Does the name Monoman mean anything to you? How about “Matty Lopez”? “Matthew Johnson”? They are all aliases of one and the same guy, whose elusiveness is at least partly by design. “I guess a big influence of mine – Mr. Carter – did it through various guises,” he told me, “and made searching for music more about the music and less about the name.”
Monoman is releasing several new projects in the coming months on Defected, Ambushed & DJ Sneak’s Magnetic in the coming months, and whatever the name on the label, in a world of disposable music these are definitely worth your consideration. I had a brief chat with him over the summer (a portion of this appears in the October 2011 issue of 5 Magazine).
I had a bit of nostalgia doing this, because I’ve been a fan of your music but haven’t had the slightest idea of who you are. It was a bit like seeing random aliases on a vinyl label and finding out later who it was. How long have you been in the game and where did you come from?
Thanks for taking the time to look up the artist! Music has become so disposable these days that its easy for people to forget who you are and what you have done. I guess I didn’t help myself by releasing a bunch of music under different names, but like you I would dig to find out more and so it brings back the old days of… “Who is that?”… again, although this was not my conscious intention. I guess a big influence of mine – Mr Carter – did it through various guises and made searching for music more about the music and less about the name, maybe.
What I really dig is that you’ve got a lot of tunes that go over well with Jackin’ House but they have an edge to them – like disco batter-fried in a tracky Chicago House sound. In terms of making House tracks, who do you consider your spiritual ancestors?
I like the description and might use that! I guess my influences are from all over and not all house. There’s a few obvious ones on the list like Carter, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, I also like the French guys like David Duriez, Phil Weeks, Sebastian Leger… I also respect a lot of producers outside of that circle like Quincy Jones, Dre, etc., so my ancestral ears are spread wide.
You’ve got about a half dozen aliases that are just bizarre. First, where does “Monoman” come from and will you hurt me if it’s not capitalized? And what about the “Matty Lopez” (which I thought was your actual name) and “Stereo Gangstaz”?
No, I just thought it looked better in capitals that’s all! Monoman came about when sitting with friends trying to think of names to call ourselves. All three of us were in a production trio and were also working on solo material too, and were sat around trying to think of solo names. I ditched the idea of “Stereo Boy” and “Speaker Man” and settled on MONOMAN.
As for Matty Lopez, a few people thought I looked Hispanic and Lopez was a better artist name for me, so I ran with it for an alias. Stereo Gangstaz is another story.
You’ve done a ton of stuff with Sneak and on his label Magnetic. Since you’re often on different continents, how did you meet and has the relationship been good for you?
We met some time back and I can’t recall exactly how. We had good ideas in the studio and tracks just kept rolling out the door. Sneak would provide the disco samples and I did the technical stuff, it worked well. Following this I have done a lot of ghost production work recently, so keep a close eye out for that. I’m not sure if the Good Charlotte one ever came out, but I’m still proud and thankful that I got the opportunity.
From what I gather, you have a degree in sound engineering, and once I say this I’m sure that everyone who’s ever spilled a drink on you is now going to ask you to hook them up with mastering. Do you use this in your day job? And since you’re a pro, what’s the biggest mistake you hear with some of the self-mastered tracks you get sent?
I wouldn’t say I was a pro, as I like to think that I am always learning, be it technical or industry stuff. I do use the knowledge but I guess it’s like learning to drive. You learn for the test and the real skill comes from practice and being on the road.
Self-mastering is convenient so even I do it, but as a rule, it’s best to let someone else polish your tracks. Mastering is not just about throwing some “make it loud” software on a track, but often the process is blended with pre-mastering or simply having it loud to play out and this becomes the final version. Mastering is really subjective.
I really liked the Guesthouse EP you did, Street Walker, and you’ve worked with a number of my favorite labels. What kinda stuff are you working on next?
I’m working on a bunch of things actually. I have some ghost stuff I did with Sneak coming out soon on Defected and Snatch. A new MONOMAN track features on a new sampler for Robsoul. Deffo some home grown beats coming out on my favorite Guesthouse, and plenty of bits to come on Ambushed. I’ve had small break as you know but I should be back up and running again very soon. Stay tuned!