Recently I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite artists, Monkey... erm, I mean Monky, (well, you'll see what I mean you read the interview). There are a lot of links here so, make sure and click on some of them if you'd like to learn more about the other artists mentioned. Big ups to Monky and the whole Cardiff Wales massive.
M : I'm changing my name now too, to Monky., not a big change i know, but someone said they'd heard my music but couldn't find me on the internet for months so I thought it'd be a good idea to make myself easier to find init.
P : You and Stagga we're in Optimas Prime making hip hop right ?
M : Yeah man, we were making skratching music originally, then started to work with a few MCs.
P : So, some of those same MCs from the hip hop days are they making grime/dubstep now ?
M : Nahhhh not really, none of those MCs really got into anything other than traditional hip hop sort of stuff which is a shame, but a lot of them are still doing interesting stuff. One exception thought is an MC I've worked with called Ruffstylz, hes into rappin' over all kinds of interesting music and he's got a mad lyrical style and wicked flows that really suit it.
P : I've heard from a few different UK artists, that they started out in hip-hop what got you interested in hip-hop?
M : I got into hip hop mainly through skratching.
P : What was the progression like for you in to making Dubstep ?
M : It was really refreshing to make instrumental stuff that I could finish myself and not have to wait for vocals to go on it. and i didn't have to have MCs in mind when I was makin' the beats, i could just experiment and go into the direction that i wanted to go in.
P : Makes sense.
M : Yeah man, was like when I started makin' beats init.
P : Tell me a little bit about Neuropol, how and it started and who was/is involved in putting it on.
M : A reggae DJ called Truth started it, he runs reggae sound system called Uprising Sound System as well. Nueropol is also closely linked with the main drum and bass promotion in Cardiff called Apeture. It's been a really big catalyst in getting a scene going here cos all the Djs and producers get to link up and play their own tunes and stuff and see what people are feelin' in the dance.
P : I hadn't even thought about reggae in Cardiff. Is there a Jamaican population in Cardiff ?
M : Yeah, in the docks there's always been a big Jamaican community.
P : Yeah that makes sense. I forgot about Cardiff being a port town I guess.
M : Yeah, it's good like that.
P : So, are there a few different reggae sounds ?
M : Yeah, there a few, but they seem to come and go a lot.
P : Is Uprising Sound System a going concern though ?
M : They don't really do it as much now cos it's kind of evolved into Nueropol, they still do the odd show though.
P : So, Truth started Neuropol as a Dubstep night ?
M : Yeah, well as a bass heavy music night, it took a while to catch on, Dubstep generally did in Cardiff.
P : What other genres are present on the Neuropol night ?
M : Jungle, Garage, Funky House, a bit of Hip Hop thrown in maybe it's all about bass though.
P : Is it still like that, with multiple genres, or is it more around Dubstep now ?
M : It's mostly around Dubstep
P : I've noticed a sort of coming together of bass related genres these days, not that the styles are merging but it seems like people are open to nights with bass as the focus rather than particular genre.
M : Yeah, I think Dubstep has opened the borders of dance music a lot in that way.
P : You and Stagga use a lot of reggae vocals in your productions, how has Reggae influenced your music ?
M : Yeah man, I used to DJ Reggae and Dancehall mostly init, we both did.
P : Oh, Okay, that makes sense.
M : Yeah cos it would always be better for the dance than Hip Hop.
P : So were you guys playing Reggae at those early Neuropol nights ?
M : Yeah sometimes, well before it was called Neuropol, but still not that often cos we'd still play a lot of Hip Hop.
P : What were some of your favorite Reggae tunes to play in the dance.
M : Capleton on the BushyBushy Riddim, can't remember the tune, The Danger Zone by Capleton, Ghostface on No No No tune.
P : That's not Ghostface from Wu-Tang ?
M : Yeah man, its good that tune.
P : Nice !
M : I'd have to have a flick thru my tunes to properly remember the good ones.
P : I'd also be interested to know what hip hop tunes were big for you.
M : Okay, well the tunes that I'd play out would be different to what I'd be listening to init. To play out I'd be playing a lot of commercial stuff like Timbaland, Neptunes all that kinda stuff cos it was the only thing that'd go down in the clubs, but I'd be listening to MF DOOM, Madlib, Stones Throw stuff, Necro, Kool Keith stuff like that. That was why Dubstep was such a nice switch over cos I was really into the music that I was playing out.
P : I've heard that the music scene in Wales is known more for bands, it seems like the electronic side of things is a pretty tightly knit community.
M : Well there hasn't really been much of an electronic scene ever in Cardiff, a few producers have done really well like High Contrast and Jean Jaques Smoothie, but I had never really been aware of any kind of scene until now. There was always a strong Hip Hop scene though. There was a night called Higher Learning that was the main night for ages but has stopped running now. Now there a night called Starving Artists, and Flip The Script, and there's also a Secret Was graff battle night that goes on pretty regularly. I'm sure there others that I don't know of. Artist wise, there are loads of people killing it right now, Associated Minds is like a big label Collective from Cardiff all their artists are doing really big things right now, Ruffstylz, Ralph Rip Shit, Squid Ninja's, Metabeats (who's gonna be puttin' stuff out on my label soon too) PLO, Beat Box Fozzy, Mudmouth, Willo. I'm sure they got more. Also Dead Residents have been continuously making sick music, that's Junior Disprol and Chud Jackson, Uncle Retch and a live band. Also Blaktrix is back on it too.
P : Can you tell me a little about the label Sonic Lodge, how it got started etc. I always assumed it was you and Stagga that run it, is that right ?
M : Yeah, it got started with a track I had that was getting a lot of play [from Djs such as N-Type, Hatcha, Walsh, RSD] called Volume VIP. I wanted to try and put it out myself, so I approached a distributor about a P and D deal and that's how it got started. It's just me really and anyone else who wants to get involved, Stagga does help me with it loads.
P : Any plans for the label you'd like to talk about ?
M : Yeah, the next release is Stagga - “Timewarp” and Stagga and Monky - “Glass Bong”, then Magenta - “Planets” and “Forces” and then Meta Beats and Diverse Concepts - “Embossed”, “SandFire “ and also a wicked tune they just done called “Baduka” (if I'm lucky though).
P : Is the Meta Beats and Diverse Concepts record hip hop ?
M : Hip Hop and Dubstep.
P : I wanted to ask you about the BBC 1xtra Wales thing, did you make a mix for them ? (the mix can also be found here)
M : I've done a few diferent things for them. Kaptain and I recently did a mix highlighting music from Cardiff for bbc 1xtra
P : I think I read about that on the Chrome Kids blog.
M : Yeah man, that's the one.
M : Chrome Kids is a blog my mate Kaptain started, then he would get me and Stagga in to help him with mixes and live sets and stuff.
P : I've read that blog.
M : M : Yeah man we still do it, its going strong.
P : They [BBC Wales] asked for a mix with a few Wales artists on it, and you guys made one of all Wales artists
M : Hahaha yeah man, they said "Do you think you'll be able find enough music from Wales to fill 20 minutes ?" We crammed about 30 tunes into 20 minutes in the end. We also did a promo thing for the new Cardiff e.p which has just come out on Subdepth, that was Stagga, Mr Curtamos and me, giving our top tips of new artists we were feeling and then they played some of our tracks from the e.p. Stagga and I did a few mixes for them last year as well.
P : With all the releases coming out and the recent attention from the BBC, it seems like the scene in Cardiff is really on the verge of blowing up.
M : Yeah, it does seem like its on the verge of something good here, lots of people making good tunes and it's gettin' noticed all over the world now so that's gotta be a good thing.
P : I think peoples minds work geographically.
P : Yeah, they probably do.
P : Like first people were interested in London, Croydon in particular, then Bristol. Do you think Cardiff's gonna be next ?
M : I think some times a scene develops in a place and it seems fresher cos its new, I think Cardiff has a lot to offer in terms of music so we'll have to see init.
P : Any artists you want to tip ?
M : Magenta, Stagga, Ital Lion, MetaBeats, Diverse Concepts, Ill Diddy, Lung, Max Roach, Mr Curtamos, Pdubz, Don Leisure, MASK, CRST.