Monty: Man On A Mission
Monty is on a mission, and inspired as ever. Carving a signature sound for a solid 3 years, the French producer has been making serious waves across the likes of 1985 Music, Critical, and most recently, Vandal Records with the diverse Soft Start EP.
Consistently striking the perfect balance of dreamy soundscapes, gritty rollers and wonky half-time riddims, Monty is just getting started, and has some serious treats in store. We took the opportunity to catch up and find out a little more about the man from Toulouse. Get to know…
Sup Monty, thanks for taking the time to chat. What were you doing 5 minutes before we interrupted?
Hi, thanks for the invite! 5 minutes ago I was boiling some eggs at my friends place…
Eggcellent (sorry). So why drum & bass over any other genre? What drew you in?
Well I started going out to Le Bikini in Toulouse a lot, where SKS organises these events called Dirty Dancin’, and that’s where I really got into the music.
I love all the different grooves and vibes you can get out of the genre. You can apply anything to it really – jazz, blues, rock, reggae, techno… I find that really special for a genre of music, as well as that feeling you get when the bass drops on a good sound system.
There’s nothing like it, is there! 🙂 How did you break into the scene and get where you are today then? You’ve been around for a couple of years but it really feels like this has been your year?
Well I’ve been producing electronic music for 3 years now, and I guess things took off when I made a half-time track called “Break It” for a free compilation called French Plates 2016 for Dnb France. When that got released Noisia picked it up and played the track on their radio show.
Around the same time I was chatting to Quadrant online a lot – i’m a big fan of his music and the stuff he makes with Iris – so I would ask him for feedback and advice about music and production. A couple of weeks later he linked me with Tom Bassi (head honcho at Flexout Audio) and Tom had heard my track on Noisia Radio as well, so I sent him a couple of demos and that’s how the link with Flexout came about.
After the Flexout release I started sending some music to Foreign Concept for feedback as well, and he liked the tracks and passed them onto Kasra. A week later Kasra asked if I was interested in releasing an EP for the Critical Binary series. Then things just started to flow from there, and people like Safire, Optiv, SKS & Redeyes and some others asked if I was interested in making some music for them…
What a ride! Do you have any advice for other artists trying to break into the scene then?
Yes, take your time! Be patient about things, and just do your thing till it works out. Also, if you are sending music to labels or artists make sure you introduce yourself before sending the music. This way it’s a bit more personal, and labels can get a bit of background information about you and are more likely to respond… And don’t send 1 minute clips of work in progress, make sure they are at least 95% finished.
Good advice! The new EP on Vandal is absolute fire! How did the link with Vandal come about?
Thanks, i’m glad you like it! Vandal are based in Toulouse and that’s where i’m living at the moment. They’re good friends of mine and we always share music between us, so that’s how the release came about. I think it’s really important to support your local music scene.
Definitely! How long did this EP take to piece together, and was it inspired by anything in particular?
It took about 3 months to piece together, and I really just wanted to try and create an EP that shows off the diverse styles of drum and bass I enjoy making.
I wanted to showcase some hard-hitting, groovy stuff (Ruff Edges), some softer and airy stuff (All Down To You), some half-time that brings out the old-school hip-hop side of things (Bring It Back & Concrete Flow), as well as the deeper, atmospheric and vibey side of my music (Soft Start & Escape Your Smile).
You managed to strike a perfect balance on there, that’s for sure! What is your studio set-up like?
It’s super basic at the moment. I have a PC with Ableton Live with a keyboard & mouse, and a pair of old Electro Voice Sentry 100A passive speakers plugged into a DENON Hi-Fi amplifier that goes into my PC with a mini jack… haha!
Get to know your speakers inside out. Get to know the down-sides and good sides and you should be alright. Of course I think a 2000 Euro pair of speakers certainly help, but are not obligatory. I also have an electric guitar and bass that i’m able to plug into my PC.
You’re constantly striking a perfect balance between gritty sounds, as well as dreamy soundscapes… Is this an intended approach and something you like to hear in tunes yourself?
It’s something that comes naturally I guess. I like to try and keep things fresh and not always make the same kind of music. That’s one of the mains challenges for me at the moment, as well as making things groove. And yeah I like to hear all kinds of D&B, from the calm and vibey stuff, to the hard and aggressive stuff.
All Down To You is a perfect example of the above. How did you get into production? Are you self-taught?
When I was 16 I studied music in the UK, but that didn’t last long and I soon gave up and moved back to France… A couple of years later I started all over again in my bedroom and got a copy of FL Studio and then a friend of mine showed me Ableton Live and that’s when I really got into production.
Yes I’m self taught I guess – just hours of sitting in front of a computer watching YouTube tutorials, digging through music forums and getting advice from other artists. I play guitar, bass and a bit of drums, so that helps too!
That’s awesome!! Were a lot of sounds we hear in this EP recorded live then?
Not many, no. I do sometimes jam on the guitar and experiment with effects in Ableton, though. I record for like 10 or 20 minutes and then cut up pieces I like from the recording to use as samples or re-sample them and then add them to my sample library. It’s quite amazing what you can achieve by re-sampling stuff. I once made a mid bass from a dog barking…
I also come up with most of my melodies on the guitar, and when i’m happy with a sequence of notes or chords I will write them down in MIDI in Ableton and then start sound designing with a synth or bass or something to apply on those chords or notes I came up with earlier.
Clever! I love your ability to switch between sounds and the fact you’re not afraid to delve into wonky halftime beats like Concrete Flow and Bring It Back. The broad scope of your output shows your versatility as an artist and confidence in your sound – who are your biggest influences and where do you draw inspiration from?
Thanks, my biggest influences in D&B are Break, Calibre, Alix Perez, Ivy Lab, Skeptical, Noisia, and the list could go on forever, haha!
I draw inspiration from music I like too. Stuff like reggae, hip-hop, soul, rock and blues, and sometimes from films too. Whatever triggers my emotions, it’s hard to say where the inspiration comes from really!
Do you experiment with making other genres of music in your spare time or is D&B / half-time your main focus?
I do yeah, I like to try all different tempos and think it’s important! You can learn A LOT of things from making other genres of music, or even just listening to them because you can always apply what you learnt from the other genres to your tracks.
I often make these kind of techno/ dub stabs with lots of delays and reverb that I picked up from techno music. I actually also have a reggae/ dub project with a friend of mine but nothing online yet!
Wicked! Would love to hear that! You made serious waves with your Hold Me Back EP on 1985 Music lately as well. How did you get to work with the 1985 guys?
Thanks, I sent some music to Alix last year and he liked it so I sent him some more, then he asked me if I wanted to make an EP for his label.
Must be quite surreal to be working with such established artists when you’ve been around for a relatively short time.. Are these the labels you’ve always wanted to work with when you were still trying to break through?
Yes it is surreal! A couple of years ago I was just going to their shows and dancing to their sets (and I still am!)… So yes, they are definitely labels i’ve wanted to work with. I respect these guys and listen to most of the stuff they release.
If you could collab with anyone in the studio, who would it be?
I would say Break, Alix Perez, Ivy Lab and Noisia… I would mention some others but I have now been given the chance to work with them so i’m not going to say who, haha!!
Ooooh, mysterious! 😉 You are still based in France, what is the scene like there at the moment?
Yes I am, and I think it’s huge at the moment and strong! Especially in Toulouse, we have some great producers here such as The Clamps, Signs, RedPill, Bl4ck Owlz and Sotilas who are making the heavy side of drum and bass, then you’ve got Redeyes, SKS, Peyo and Midn8runner making the smoother stuff. Ak-Hash is making that hip-hop/halftime stuff, and i’m sure I have forgotten some others too, haha..
More and more people are starting to produce or even just mix D&B in general, as well as host events, especially the younger generation, which is good to see as I think it keeps the scene alive.
For any fans of D&B or even just electronic music in general – I highly recommend checking Le Bikini in Toulouse at least once in your life. The sound quality in there is on another level! I have never heard any place like it yet… And you’re always guaranteed a sick line-up! I really think more clubs should take note of sound quality if they can, and not just super loud speakers that will damage your hearing.
100% agree. Sound quality makes an incredible difference! Are there any other French D&B artists we should keep an eye out for?
Yeah, a guy called Trail! Making some great stuff at the moment, so go and check him out!
What has been your highlight of 2017 so far?
The support for my music in general from labels, artists, friends and family, as well as being given the opportunity to make music with some of the artists I look up to.
So where to from here? What’s lined up for the rest of the year and beyond?
Just going to keep on making music I guess and see what happens! I have an EP coming out on Flexout Audio at the end of the year, and some other bits on various labels… And I’ve just finished my second 1985 EP too!
Oooft, can’t wait to hear all of that! Any final words?
Thanks for the interview!
Back at you mate!
The Soft Start EP is out now on Vandal Records – get it here.