Exclusive: Legendary music producer Tony Visconti on UFC & his love of Martial Arts
New York native Tony Visconti is an award-winning record producer, musician and songwriter. His first big break in the musical world came when he became the in-house producer for his music publisher, The Richmond Organization.
Moving ahead 50-something years, Visconti has a discography which most musical professionals could only dream of. Beyond producing a slew of essential David Bowie and T. Rex studio albums, Visconti's credits also include titles by Iggy Pop, The Moody Blues, Thin Lizzy, Morrissey, Angélique Kidjo, and Alejandro Escovedo.
These days, beyond working on a forthcoming solo album and some David Bowie-related projects, Visconti has been working with the Reeperbahn Festival, one of the most important meeting places for the global music industry. He was among the high-profile jury members on-site last month at New York’s Rockford Music Hall, as part of the festival’s Sequence Tour, which was presented by Wunderbar Together.
Visconti is part of the Reeperbahn Festival's ANCHOR Jury, a board of artists and music industry executives -- also including producer Bob Rock, multi-faceted musician Peaches, and singer/songwriter (and G.L.O.W. star) Kate Nash -- who will convene in Hamburg, Germany to award The ANCHOR, the Reeperbahn Festival International Music Award.
When speaking with Tony Visconti by phone in July 2019, I learned that MMA and martial arts are among his passions. More on Visconti can be found online by visiting www.tonyvisconti.com and/or www.twitter.com/tonuspomus.
On his morning routine:
"I wake up every morning, I go up the roof and I do Tai Chi... I listen to classical music, sometimes jazz music... That sets up my morning brilliantly. I mean, I've really changed a little bit on my morning habits. That sets me up for the day and I'm able to work and be very productive."
On whether he's a sports fan:
"I like UFC. I mean, that's it. I've been into martial arts for years, so I do follow the UFC and the octagon... I followed Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm... I like the female fighters especially, because I think they are good role-models for women, and that's what I'm really into these days."
On when he first got into the UFC:
"Probably about six, seven years ago. I have studied martial arts all my life and that's the highest example of martial arts. But it's nice to see real fighting now and then. It makes you examine what you're studying in a martial arts school and what actually happens when people start swinging at each other. They're kind of two different things. So I watch UFC really very studiously. I really watch carefully and see what they're doing."
On which forms of martial arts he has mainly studied:
"I studied the Bruce Lee style for Wing Chun. When Bruce Lee films came out I was crazy for him and I loved him and I found out that he studied this classic martial art called Wing Chun. Before that I studied basic Taekwondo, Korean-style karate, you know?
In recent years, about 15 years ago, I started seriously learning Tai Chi again. I had started in London but then my friend Lou Reed told me that there was a great Tai Chi teacher in New York and I am still with that teacher nowadays. So you know, Tai Chi is a martial art, although all you see is what Tai Chi is like when it's practiced very slowly. But you can actually use it for self-defense very, very well."