Get To Know Thatmanmonkz
‘thatmanmonkz’ is a Sheffield based DJ, recording artist, and producer who has played alongside played alongside the likes of Carl Craig, Grandmaster Flash, Recloose and Phil Asher. Flat-sharing with producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A) led to a crash course in studio techniques, inspiring him to join forces with Toddla T (Radio 1) and form Small Arms Fiya. The pair have already collaborated on a number of releases and remixes which have all received impressive global acclaim.
Tell us where you are and how you are feeling right now.
I’m currently sat in my home studio putting the finishing touches to an album. Feeling pretty good, despite the UK weather and the studio tan!
Share a few artists that have influenced your sound?
I’d have to say Moodymann and J Dilla, not specifically for the genres they work in, but for the way their music actually sounds. That Rhodes, live bass, MPC thing with a rough edge. House wise, definitely people like Carl Craig, Osunlade, Kenny Dope, Recloose. I love hip hop and soul music, I listen to a lot of disco, jazz and some guitar based stuff too. But I think as you work on music, you actually become influenced by the people you physically work with more than anybody else, though all of the people I’ve mentioned and many more, have definitely been inspirations to make me want to do this in the first place.
Tell your fans some interesting facts they may not know about you.
I’ve actually been making music for a while now and was in a group called Small Arms Fiya a decade or so ago. I actually ‘quit’ for a couple of years to try and ‘grow up’ and be more sensible, but, after some small business attempts, the sounds in my head and the pull of the studio was just too much. I love cricket and watch it when I can (which I know is not considered cool!) If you’re wondering, mine’s a pint of real ale. Oh yeah, I also run Shadeleaf Music, which is a real labour of love for me and might also explain why it’s managed so inefficiently! ha
How much of a perfectionist are you? When do you decide your work is top notch?
That’s a good question and I think it’s an important part of a producer’s development. I think you get more confidence with finishing as you grow, but, I know some phenomenally talented guys that simply don’t finish their work so as to perfect it, so it may never be heard. I’ve had to become kind of a self-taught punk rocker in ethos there, as I think it’s important to get pieces done whilst they’re still fresh and also to keep making up new stuff, so I’m pretty militant with myself on finishing things and getting onto new material. I reckon an artist should always believe his or her best is yet to come and should finish off their current work to allow that to happen.
What has been your best business decision with regards to your music career?
Personally, the best decision was to commit to it full-time; going back into music, DJing and production. To collaborate with others or work on music part time is great, but to need others to be able to do it can become a little stifling. Also, taking away the safety net of a job or whatever, made me concentrate and work that much harder. I guess it’s obvious that time spent and a lack of other home comforts, would speed up any aspiring artist’s development. Also, to accept that the only way is to ‘do you’, rather than look for acceptance or popularity by sounding contemporary. Art is a privilege and a labour of love for me, rather than just work.
What’s your opinion on the current state of house music?
I’m a big fan of the underground in house and pretty much any other genre of music. In fairness, house music pretty much always has a strong and resolute underground, despite the mainstream’s occasional flirtations with it. There is so much stuff being made now that I’ll still be playing in 20 years. Acts like Kon, Kai Alce, Box Aus Holz and Seven Davis to name a few, just the same as there are 20-year-old records that never leave the box. It’s probably fair to say that we’re currently a little oversaturated in terms of the amount of it that’s released, but the good stuff always finds it way through and usually through the underground.
What would be your short list of dream collaborations, past or present.
Awww man. Right. Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Pino Palladino, Joni Mitchell, James Poyser, D’Angelo, Dwele, Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, De La Soul, Thom Yorke, Junior Murvin, Loleatta Holloway, Nick Drake, Robert Glasper, Bon Iver, Jimi Hendrix. I could go on and on and on and really geek out here, so I’d better stop! First and foremost I’m a fan of music and think its really important to know it’s history and where it actually comes from, particularly in a time like we ‘re living in now.
Finally, what’s next for you?
After this EP for Classic, I have an album coming out later in the year with Delusions of Grandeur. We’ll also have a couple more releases on Shadeleaf that I’m really excited about. I’m currently starting up a hip hop/downtempo project that I can’t say too much about yet. Plus I’ll be back in the lab creating more new music hoping that the labels I’ve worked with are kind enough to help me get it out there and that you guys are kind enough to let me talk about it!