Monki & Friends

London Editor / August 28, 2014

After the intense fortnight of creating an EP with her mates, we caught up with Monki to see how it was for her.

If you had to explain to your nan what you were doing in the studios, what would you say?
Do you know what? The other day – I don’t think she really knows what I do – but she asked me how the disco was, so I think she vaguely knows. If I had to explain this one I guess – she understands what a studio is and stuff – I guess in simple terms I’d just say me and a bunch of friends are going into a studio to make some music and give it out to our internet friends, for free, and Red Bull are helping us do it.

How did you choose who to work with?
I basically wrote a massive list of people, I say massive, maybe like 20 people that I’m sort of really feeling at the moment, or that I have really liked since I was younger. The prime example is Joe Goddard. So obviously out of everyone I think he’s been around the longest, everyone else is pretty new. Yhen I messaged them or caught up with them on the phone and was like ‘look if you’re free for these dates it’d be great to have you down’ and everyone who was actually free just said yes. Originally, Joe was actually writing a new Hot Chip album but I moved the dates and then I bumped into him at XOYO at his residency and I was like, "I moved the dates can you do it?" and he said "YEAH" – he’d had a few drinks and I was like, "I’m so holding you to that." And he did it.

This is your second Monki & Friends EP - what learnings did you take from the first one into this?
Yeah, this one’s gone so smoothly that I’m a bit scared, I feel like something had to go wrong. I was ill for a week, but I got through it, it wasn’t a problem. Last year it was the first time we’d done the project and we had such a short amount of time to do it in, it was so hectic. You forget that people have publishing deals so there’s an issue with them doing certain things with brands etc etc., which is another reason we just give it out free. And no one bloody buys them anyway, might as well give it out for free! It’s not about that anyway, it’s more about getting in the studio and having a laugh and seeing what happens. I’ve definitely learnt stuff since then, I’m not a producer myself so last year was the first time I’ve sat in a studio with producers for two weeks and watched them work. In terms of what things are called, what things do and stuff like that I’ve learned in that respect, which means I can get involved more. Even if it’s just saying, "take that high hat out the 16-bar loop and put it later on in the track." I know more what I’m talking about now, last year was almost like an experiment. So yeah, in that sense I have learnt technical things and everything’s gone really smoothly.

Is it nice to take your focus away from performing - as a DJ or as a 'DeeJaay' - and sit in the studio, getting funky?
Yeah it’s wicked. I think that’s the whole point of why I did it because I was a broadcaster first and foremost and then a DJ. People were like, you should make music because it speeds the process up of you playing bigger stages. But I’ve never wanted to make music off my own back. People were always asking when are I was going to produce and that I should start producing, but I didn’t want to start just because they were telling me to. The whole reason I got into radio was because I love it, so everything I do off the back of that is a production of radio – I get to DJ because I have a radio show, I get to have a label because I get to listen to music first because I have a radio show. Production wasn’t really something I wanted to delve into really deep but I still wanted to get involved. I still wanted to know how a studio worked and I still wanted to watch producers work and find out how they worked. And because I’m not a producer, I’m a taste maker – I hate that word but – the whole idea of this was to like, taste make an EP so to get someone I like, like Joe, and get someone younger like Kidnap Kid and put them together and see what happens. So this is the closest I’m getting to producing, which is cool by me, it’s a load of fun.

It was pretty packed while you were here with people working in both studio spaces. Did you enjoy the madness of getting an EP together?
Yeah it’s really fun and I found myself going home really late at night and being really tired but waking up and being really glad to come back. It’s nicer being upstairs because there’s a real life window but when you’re down in the basement with seven grown men in a small room it can get a bit... intense. But it is exciting because it’s two weeks of the whole year where I’m doing something different to DJing and putting together a radio show. These guys do it every day but I only get to do it two weeks in a year so to pack it all into two weeks is intense. Everyone on the EP I’ve either DJ’d with once or I’m friends with so they’re a lovely bunch of people.  

Did the parameters of having to do it in two weeks helped or hindered?
I think if there was more time we’d have too many ideas. Cause And Effect and Predatah, on their first day, made five tunes and when they came in the second day they made another one. Of course, because there’s only one track from each paired group, I was like, "we have three hours we really need to pick one!" We went back to the one we all liked the most, then got a brain block, then got inspiration in the last 15 minutes of the session and ended up staying really late. So if we had even more time we’d be unbelievably indecisive. And with Joe Goddard, when they made their track, he literally pulled up a file that he’d been working on, Moko got in the booth and wrote a melody in ten minutes, wrote lyrics in another 20 minutes and in half an hour we had a top line and that was it. So I think if we had more time we’d end up having a bloody album, or we’d all fall out, and it’d be Monki and none of her friends. 

Download the Monki & Friends 2014 EP right here.