Jamie chats to DJ Monk, one of the unsung heroes of the jungle scene about his release via Nicky Blackmarket’s Kartoons, the history of his production plus much more.
Your production has always been very true to the roots of the jungle and predominantly driven by ragga lyrics. Take ‘I Spy’ for example, a true anthem of the early scene. Why do you think you followed this theme throughout your music?
Being born in the 70’s in Ladbroke Grove, West London reggae was a part of life growing up. My parents were always playing music at home and we were lucky enough to have Notting Hill Carnival and the famous Dub Vendor record shop round the corner which is where I spent many Saturday afternoons.
Around the age of 13 or 14 I was involved in a sound system with a guy named Tico who I also produced ‘Good Body Girl’ with. We would play 80’s soul, hip hop and course reggae and as dance music evolved and producers started using sound system influences more, it was a no brainier for me as a producer as I had a great knowledge of the reggae scene.
Talking of ‘I Spy’, what was your inspiration behind it? Massive tune.
‘I Spy’ came about as it was a reggae tune I knew very well, I’m surprised no one had thought about it already if I’m honest! I wasn’t that mad about the track when I first finished it (could be due to hearing it 1000’s of times whilst producing it) but then Micky Finn cut it on dubplate and dropped it at AWOL on a Saturday night and it smashed the gaff up!
The tune is still getting played after 27 years so I suppose I did something right
Aside from the obvious release on Kartoons, is there anything else pending for 2021 production wise?
Yeah there’s a few things going on right now. I recently had a release on Ghetto Dubs for Rachel & John in Bristol, another track is due out on the mighty Dread Recordings for Ray Keith and an old school style thing due out on my label KLP Records with 2 producers from Canada (Dublic and Luk Peers).
I’ve also been giving away a few bootleg tunes via my Bandcamp and I’ve got a shit load of tracks I’ve started (like most producers). A remix of Kenny Ken’s ‘Everyman’ plus more.
I’m one of those producers who likes starting tunes but hates finishing them, I think I just get bored.
Talking of the Kartoons ‘Superhero’ remixes, why did it take so long to release the ‘95 relick? Was this just a dubplate back or was it more about red tape etc?
My ‘95 remix of The House Crew’s ‘Superhero’ was a strange one. I’m good pals with the Production House Crew and I was honoured to remix such a big iconic tune. It was getting a lot of play back in the days on dub but I think I might have missed the deadline although that was a long time ago and the early 90’s was a bit of a blur if you know what I mean.
Luckily I did the original remix as I still had the parts which enabled these current remixes.
I hear you keep making UK garage with the wife? Is this a new production duo for KLP Records? Must be a cure for lockdown boredom!
Making UKG with the wife is a touchy subject as it causes a lot of arguments over things like whether there should be more maracas but yes, we have produced a couple of old school style UK garage tunes and to be honest, it was out of our love for the genre, not for the wife ha ha.
I don’t think it’s something I would release on KLP Records and it’s not a new production duo. I actually need to get them mastered and will probably give away as free tunes but we will see what response I get from the tracks when I give to a couple of DJs.
Any producers out there who want to split up with their partners…Make a tune with them and thank me later ha ha
‘Love Me Sess’ got a wicked repress by Deep Jungle back in June this year. That must have been a huge success? Certainly a tune that’s wanted by most die hard junglists
Yeah ‘Love Me Sess’ was something I produced in the early 90’s but we never had the rights to the vocals back then but due to recently working with Top Cat on a ‘Lighter’ remix I approached him and licensed the vocals which gave Deep Jungle Records the green light to release it and I believe it sold out on vinyl on the first day!
Wheel back 2013 somewhat to 1997 and the massive Helter Skelter event ‘Energy 97’. The Rush Hour collective featuring yourself, Spinback, MC MC and Prince was no doubt one of the most electric sets of the evening. What happened to the crew? The Rush Hour brand seemed to come and go quite quickly.
The Rush Hour was something put together by MC MC. The idea behind it was rather than just the usual DJ & MC we would put on a show. We had a DJ, 2 MCs, dancers, a trumpet player and exclusive tunes that MC MC & Prince would perform live.
We certainly had some great great shows at events such as Helter Skelter, World Dance plus a few festivals. In the end it was hard for MC MC to keep it all together with so many artists being involved and life certainly got in the way.
We had some great nights and made many memories, who knows we might see it again?
You were also involved with the Yardrock show via Kool London. Is this still a thing? What’s the deal with legal and pirate radio shows at the moment?
The Yard Rock Show on Kool London was ‘Mr Hitman’ Marvelous Cain’s show. He invited me up as a guest one night and I ended up doing that for just under a year due to the regular guy Keith Rinse It not being able to commit due to health reasons. I had some great shows on Kool with some amazing guest DJs and MCs, to be honest with me and radio it’s a bit hard to commit due to my limited spare time.
What’s the plan for 2021? Are you back producing in your spare time again now? Anything on the bucket list you want to tick off?
Who knows what this year will bring for the music industry in general due to this COVID thing. I will defo keep producing and running my own label and as for a bucket list, I would like to get involved with the festivals when they start up again, I just hope for everyone involved with the music scene that things get back to normal soon.
Big thanks to everyone who enjoys and supports what I do and have been doing for over 30 years. Peace.
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