There will always be something special about a group of talented musicians getting together to just jam and see what happens. In today’s music industry live electronics can be added to the group to create a mesh of human/computer collaboration. Our new friends Monotronic seemed to have mastered this with their sound.
We caught up with the talented group to dig a little deeper into what they do. Enjoy the interview here:
First off, tell us about the name Monotronic?
Ramsey: I had a bunch of names I was considering but Monotronic jumped out at me because it suggests the idea of one sound (mono) which incorporates the electronic elements in our music. I should also add that Monotronic is the title of a really great EP by friend and fellow musician Lex Sadler. Check it out!
How would you describe your sound?
Ramsey: The concept behind Monotronic was to have a group of really good musicians playing along with live electronics run through Ableton and a controller, but in such a way that the band and live electronics are interacting in real time and on an equal footing (unlike other setups where the electronics serve more as a backing track). The goal was to incorporate the kind of thing that DJ’s do with what live musicians do, to create a kind of hybrid music. One way to describe our sound would be like Daft Punk, if they could play musical instruments
Which artists have had the biggest influence on Monotronic?
Ramsey: Too many to name. I grew up listening to music on the radio in the car like most kids, then discovered The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Later in college I started going to Dead shows and that opened me up in a totally different way and led me to jazz (Coltrane, Django, Miles, Charlie Christian, etc.). When I put Monotronic together a few years ago I was listening to a lot of electronic music. I still do, but less so as I’ve been so consumed in my own music.
How does a song come to you?
Ramsey: If I knew I would tell you! It comes from somewhere within, but I guess it’s often rooted in some past experience or unique combination of body and world, like when you interact with the environment and something triggers a feeling or memory from the past.
Tell us about your songwriting process?
Ramsey: It varies from song to song. “Buy Yourself a Dream” was written in a studio in Red Hook (Brooklyn) with Eric Sanderson and Justin Wands. I came in with most of the lyrics and they helped me polish them up and we added some sections. We recorded Justin’s vocals on the same day, followed by the instrumental tracks on various days with musicians coming and going. The nice piano playing on the track is Kevin Bents. For “Kids of Summer” I put the music together first and then later worked out the lyrics over the course of a couple sessions at my place with Adam Ahuja. The lyrics for “Just Another Day” came to me during an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. They stayed in my phone for two years until the music finally came to me. The most recent release “Livin’ in a Lie” was a bit more methodical and somewhat of a montage. I had elements of other songs that I really liked, and I started out with those basic ideas and built around them (if you can hear the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” in the pre-choruses you are not imagining things!).
Your new release ‘Livin in a Lie’ seems to have a real story behind it. What can you share?
Ramsey: As I mentioned, the song contains elements of other songs that I really liked. The story is about a guy who is enjoying the single life living in NYC, until he meets a woman who breaks his heart. He then goes back to being single, but he can’t enjoy the same freedom he once enjoyed as a bachelor because his heart is broken. He nonetheless lies to himself and pretends to be happy.
What do you hope the listener will take away from your music?
Ramsey: Music has so many functions, but I would say one of the most important functions is to help people escape the stresses of their everyday lives. Hopefully, our music provides that escape. Another important function, which I think follows from the first, is to bring people together to create new worlds based on music and the good vibes that comes out of that shared experience. Hopefully, people can connect with our music in that way and want to share it with others.
Share some advice for other artists trying to get noticed in the crowded indie music scene.
Ramsey: I would say just keeping playing! If you are doing music for the right reasons then hopefully other people will feel that and connect with you. As far as getting noticed in the media sense, that’s another question entirely, which I have no idea about.
Give us a look into the future of Monotronic.
Ramsey: Hopefully in the Fall when all this Covid craziness is gone we can start playing gigs again!
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