It was one of the first warm days of Spring when Team LGT sat down with rapper and Green Bay native Tyler Baumgart – known by his stage name as TeawhYB (“Through every action, who has your back?”). TeawhYB talked about his music, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, his favorite memories as a performer and most importantly, his upcoming performance at UWGB.
With the help of student orgs The Optimist Club and, You Me Us and the Pride Center, TeawhYB is coming to campus next fall. The local rapper and opener DJ Drizzle Drake are putting on a show to help raise funds for The Courage House – a safehouse in Milwaukee for LGBTQ+ youth. The Courage House helps teach life skills and give young LGBTQ+ people a place to sleep and eat every day.
If you’re not convinced you want to see the show yet, read on to learn more about Tyler and the impact he hopes to have with his music today, and for the rest of his life.
How did you get your start in music?
Music’s kind of always been a part of my life. I was really into New Kids on the Block, and boy bands and stuff…I never really, like, classically learned how to sing, but I really got into music when I started writing poetry, and I started songwriting…it kind of evolved into, I was really into rap and hip-hop and stuff. And then me and my friends, growing up around Green Bay, we would just cruise around and put on a beat CD…and we would just rap, like, the whole night…we built a studio in the basement or the closet, and we started recording.
How did the benefit concert at UWGB come about?
[My sister] connected me with [Stacie Christian]…I’ve done a lot of different Pride events and fundraisers and different stuff like that, so we tried to connect and just see if maybe there was something we could do on the campus…she connected me with [The Optimist Club], and they really, the Optimist Club just took it and ran with it…I’m just blown away with the process and the professionalism that they have. I’ve never been to this campus, so I’m really excited.
How do you feel about the proceeds being donated to the Courage House?
Anything we can do to maximize those funds is definitely what we wanna do, so I’m hoping that we can get people on campus, off campus, and everything, to join in. And I’ll actually be performing on the news the morning of, on WFRV [channel 5], so I’m hoping to kinda get word out while we’re doing that and hopefully raise funds through a GoFundMe, or anything like that for people to call in and donate..I love the cause. I don’t love the reason we have the cause, and why the Courage House is there, but I think it’s one of the most important things to give back to local charities, and ones that are really gonna affect people individually, and people of our community…Regardless of how much money we’re able to raise, it’s going to make an impact on these people’s lives, and that’s the most important thing.
How did you come up with the acronym TeawhYB?
Everybody thinks it’s “TYB,” because that’s what it sounds like, so that’s why I have those [letters] capitalized…but there are letters in between. There’s a lot more than meets the eye…so I like to say, like, you need to be able to read between the lines to be able to understand the full thing.it kind of has a double meaning. Obviously…the good times, you know, who has your back when you’re out partying, having fun, or enjoying success, or you just aced a test? And also, who has your back when you are going through tough times, and who’s gonna pick you up when you’re down? The other hand of that, which we don’t think about as much, is who has your back enough to tell you when you’re wrong? And who has your back enough to say, you know, “I really don’t like the choices that you’re making, and I’m only telling you this because you’re my friend.” And a lot of times when we hear stuff like that, we don’t react accordingly, or we might be in denial of what we’re doing because we don’t see that perspective.
What impact do you want to have on LGBTQ+ youth?
When I first got back into music a couple years ago, what I originally thought was, I’m gonna start off with music, but I really wanna translate it into being more of a public speaker, and going to different schools, whether it’s middle school, high school, universities, and kind of have an open discussion about growing up LGBTQ, or growing up different, whether that’s LGBTQ related or not. …That was ultimately my goal, and then it shifted strictly to music, as of late. So, I would like to be viewed as an advocate, and someone who uses their platform to lift up the [LGBTQ] voice, as well as the different causes and taboos, to release some of those. To just be someone who’s looked up to as an advocate, supporter, and someone who’s living it, at the same time.
You’ve said that people have come out to you before. What is your response when this happens?
Usually, my response is, “Thank you for sharing that with me, I’m sure that was extremely difficult.” Because it is…I remember when I was struggling with, “Am I actually gay? Is this gonna happen?” My first thought was, “Do I even wanna live my life that way?…I’m never gonna be looked at the same. I feel like I’m gonna lose all my friends, and my parents are gonna hate me.” Even though these are irrational fears, it’s the first thing that comes to your mind. Because, growing up, it was always, like, “Oh, that’s gay. Oh, you fag.”…Those are all negative connotations, so when you are processing that that might actually be you, it’s one of the scariest things ever. It’s one of those things that some people take to the grave. Just say somebody marries the opposite sex, even though that’s not who they’re attracted to, and they have kids. They go through their entire life, and they live unfulfilled, or unhappy, or they live questioning…
In any event, it’s a really hard thing, so when somebody brings you that, you have to really take it seriously, and understand that might be the most difficult thing that person’s ever done in their entire life. So what I want to tell people is: Do it at your own pace. Do it at your own time. Do it when it feels right, and when you’re confident.
What is your favorite memory of your career?
Last Summer at Cheesefest…my sister and her boyfriend came, and they brought my nieces and nephew, and they had never seen me perform…they’re ten to five years old, and there’s five of them, and it was just so cool to see them in the audience. ‘Cause usually, they can’t go to a show, because it’s at a club or a bar. This is right smack dab in the middle of the day, so, they’re on my sister’s boyfriend’s shoulders, like, living it up! [My family goes] to extreme lengths to support me, and, you know, make sure that they’re helping me along with this dream of mine.
Are you working on new music right now?
Yes, definitely, always. I am finishing up an EP right now which I expect to release in June, and it’s called “We Would Wonder What We Were.” It’s a little different than stuff that I’ve done, it kind of blends a little more rock and guitar, almost punk-rock, mixed with pop and alternative and hip-hop and stuff. I’m actually just really proud of the work I’ve put in on that, I’m really excited to share it with the world.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I don’t wanna be remembered by personal accomplishments…I really wanna be remembered [as] someone who uplifted the community, particularly other artists and rappers and bands..because it’s more than me…It’s about building a community. A lot of people look at artistry, especially rappers, they’re like, “Oh, I’m the best, I’m the best in this city, nobody’s touching me.” It’s just like, everybody can eat at the table, this is a buffet. You know, people don’t buy music anymore, they stream it and they listen to it, and they go on YouTube and they rip it. So, who are you in competition with? You’re really only in competition with yourself…But, yeah, basically I just want to be remembered for building that community up, being someone who is approachable. I want to be remembered for, like, “Remember when we went to that show, and I did that dance,” or, like, “So-and-so did this and it was so fun.”….I feel like sometimes there’s not a whole lot going on that’s positive in the world, so [I want] to be remembered for something that, at least, was fun and positive, in general.
Tyler is excited to play a hometown show at UWGB for a great cause. For more information, check out the Green Bay Phoenix Optimist Instagram: @greenbayphoenixoptimist.
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