Inside The Columbusing Album with thatmanmonkz
Coming Straight Outta Sheffield, English producer thatmanmonkz recently dropped his superb 14-track ‘Columbusing’ album on the esteemed Delusions of Grandeur record label. The album features a whole host of eclectic underground cuts, ranging from some seriously slouchy lounge vibes via Dilla-influenced hip hop, all way through to lo-fi deep and soulful house. This album is sure to turn the heads of music lovers across the globe. Seriously, have a listen, it’s quite brilliant!
- ‘Columbusing’ Album is available on Traxsource: HERE
We sat down with the man from the Steel City to discuss the album’s sublime creation, track by track, plus it’s innovative, eclectic flow, as we went Inside The Colombusing Album with thatmanmonkz.
When Delusions Of Grandeur asked me to do an album with them, I got some very sound advice from a friend. He said, essentially, that “you have to leave it all on the field” with an album project and make sure you say what you want to say with it, as you can never be sure when the opportunity will come along again! It’s really important to me to not understate the amount of collaboration that went into it, as it would have been a completely different piece of work had I not been lucky enough to have access to the friends that I worked on it with.
As for the title name, ‘Columbusing’, it came about as an idea fairly early on, as the first demos had taken on a theme as some kind of homage to the American music that had always been such a huge influence on me throughout my life. It’s something that I wanted to try and reference artistically. ‘Columbusing’ is a modern academic term for white appropriation of other cultures. When I heard it, I knew it applied very well to my own work and also the internal conflict that I have with that, given the privilege that exists and enables me to do what I do to some degree, and the state of the world today.
I’ve always been as much of a hip hop and soul head as I am a house and disco fan. The MPC2000XL is a go-to studio tool much of the time. I wanted to start the album in that way; to let listeners know I was trying to make an album, rather than a set of club tracks. As for Khalil, well, if you know my work, you know how highly I regard him. To have him on the opener was a no-brainer for me. He always manages to approach a vocal in a completely unique way. Also, it vocally suggests a change is coming; something that felt right in current times.
Despite this one being a fairly obvious hat tip to the underground Detroit sound, which has always been a huge influence on me, it’s also important to stress that there are a lot of artists today, particularly in Europe, that try to ‘claim’ this type of sound as something they’ve created. Like ‘slow house’ or ‘wonky house’, as I believe it’s being called! It’s really no different to when beatmakers started to bite aspects of J Dilla’s swing and sound in the downbeat world. We need to pay more heed to and respect our forefathers in this genre. Just as we should do in all others!
Mr.Rico is a phenomenally talented guy and really positive! We began speaking due to him doing a vocal on a Shadeleaf release and we hit it off really quickly. I sent him over the instrumental and he pretty much sent it back finished, with very little work to do at my end! As for the instrumental track, there are probably more different samples in that one track than I’ve ever used before; sort of like a very abstract house based head nod to hip hop legends The Bomb Squad.
Pete Simpson is an awesome musician, as well as being one of the best known soulful houses vocalists out there. He’s also one of the best friends I’ve ever had. This was the product of me and him jamming it out in the studio one day after listening to a lot of Robert Glasper and some Brazilian music. It was completely deliberate to throw a lot of varied influences at this and try and make it work cohesively as a deep, jazz flavoured house track.
I’ve mentioned my love for hip hop and I guess it was the Golden Era that really got me open. As a rhythm track, this is really an homage to the mid 90s and to Pete Rock and the filtered bass, sample type of production. Upon finding out that my man Recloose knew Ta’raach, I got him to put us in touch. His work with Badu, Dilla and his own stuff is pretty self-explanatory as to why, and he smashes this track in one extended verse!
Dave is the man! I’ve been a big fan of his vocals, productions, and remixes since I first heard him, plus he’s a lovely guy too. We’d chatted for a while about doing something and ‘Turn It Out’ is the result of that, with some extra key blessings from my man, Bennett Holland. The Senor Luv Daddy sample in the intro was just something we both knew and loved. His remix of this, which is out in April, is absolutely heavy too and is on my recent Traxsource live set.
A bit of Jimpster A&R magic here! This one was always coming together nicely as a raw demo, but something I couldn’t quite get to feel ‘just right’ y’know! Leave it with the man himself to offer a few suggestions and arrangement ideas and there you go; a jazz fusion inspired disco appreciation track! A lil’ of that deep house, basement flavour. Thanks boss!
This is a protest song and is intended to be! It’s a direct reference to the the Black Lives Matter movement and the I Can’t Breathe hashtag. The credit for that lies with Pete, though I’m very proud to have it on my record and fully support and agree with everything he says on the track. Pete and I had been talking about the situation with policing in the US and how insane it looks from over here. The issues he’s had himself as a man and also how angry it made us. I sent a rhythm track, Pete came back with THAT vocal.
Most people in the US will know the sample reference; most people in Europe, not so much! It’s an attempt to make a soulful track for the clubs and to subtlely reference the undisputed and colossal influence that gospel has had on pretty much everything in modern music. My main man Bennett on the keys again.
Antonio Gallucci and Tony Salviato are really highly regarded jazz players in Italy, and Kali is definitely one to watch as a producer. Kali and I had been chatting for a while and when the chance to collaborate on the album with Raw Standard (as those three guys are known) came about, I wasn’t going to pass it up! It’s a deliberate mood change in the context of the album, though I love it as stand alone piece too. It doesn’t feel just ‘mine’, more ‘ours’, which is the vibe I was going for with all the collaborations on the project.
As a Sheffield based musician, I’ve listened to a lot of Dancehall influenced music over the years, as well as techno and the like. In many ways, this is one of the more unusual tracks on the album as it’s a slight diversification from the theme and more of an experimental piece. It’s where I attempt to fuse a lot of singular influences I’ve been exposed to since I moved to this town. If it comes across as a little unusual, then that’s a little clue as to the creative arts scene here!
Though this started life as a piece of machine future soul in my head, upon playing it to Malik, he saw it the same way but with more of a ‘post hip hop’ feel. The next project I’m working on after this is his album, which we’re about half the way through. He really is an incredible poet and MC. His flows and cadence, let alone lyrics, really are something special and this is a great introduction to him for those who don’t know.
Jimpster described this as ‘Prince in the 80’s after a three day bender at the Panorama Bar’ which is hella flattering. That was pretty much the vibe Khalil and I were aiming for, so, I’ll just leave that out there!
This is both me trying to close out an album, and to say something musically to my best friend and my father, who both passed away in fairly recent times. I couldn’t not address that in some way, but, didn’t necessarily need to talk about it in interviews either y’know? All said and done, I guess this one is kinda for me.
“So, that’s “Columbusing”. The aim here was to really try and make an album that could be listened to as a whole piece and something that paid obvious homage and reference to it’s inspirations. I hope i’ve succeeded in some way to that aim. I hope you dig it and I hope I see you all out there on the road sometime….”