When Monoak dropped ‘Sync Sequence 1’ in the State inbox last month, we were intrigued, and then disappointed once we saw that the Dublin producer has shared a mere three tracks with the world. That most recent track finds him experimenting with pitch and tone but not straying too far for his sound, established as a glitchy, metallic take on downbeat electronic, and we look forward to hearing more in the coming months. Known to the taxman as Johnny Oakley, Monoak took the time to answer a few of State’s questions….
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Johnny? Where are you from and what were you doing before you moved to London?
I’m from Dublin. Before moving to London, I was living in Berlin for about a year. Berlin was great but an impending cold winter and serious lack of money made me re-consider and move to London where it is easier to find work and, of course, has a huge music scene. I’ve been living in London for nearly four years now.
As we know, a lot of young people are emigrating from Ireland, what were the reason behind your decision to base yourself in London?
Yeah, it’s a shame so many people are leaving Ireland, there is very little on offer for musicians there, I found. There is no real industry to speak of, especially for dance music. Although there are some dedicated artists still there, proving people wrong and doing well for themselves. Licensing is a real issue for the club scene in Ireland. It seems to have put a strangle hold on things, limiting promoters and performers alike. There is always a huge pool of talent there though, most of my influences have been from guys I grew up with or met through Ireland’s small but dedicated scene.#
There appears to have been quite a change in your sound and style from ‘Dawson’ to ‘Sync Sequence 1’. Could you talk a little about that?
I sample a lot, so that really determines the palate of sounds I use. I get bored with the same old sounds, so it changes as I go. This may be reflected in the different tracks I’ve posted but I have a lot of unheard tracks I want to release, which I think give a solid reflection of my style.
The new song sounds to me like you’re messing about a bit and experimenting – it speeds up, slows down, you don’t know where it’s gong to go next. It sounds great, but it doesn’t have that intense, repetitive energy of the other two songs you’ve posted. What were you setting out to do when making that track?
There is no real plan to be honest, I do have a huge focus on my live set, so I may have been trying to do something I thought might work at the beginning of the set as a warm up or something. I love the methods of speeding up and slowing down samples to give completely different sounds and melodies, it is something you will hear in my music and features heavily in ‘Sync Sequence 1’.
It must have been exciting to have XLR8R pick up ‘Dawson’. What kind of opportunities did that open up for you in 2013?
Yeah, it was great and very unexpected! It showed me I was somewhat on the right track with the music I was trying to make.
You’ve gigged in London and Berlin, do you play your own stuff or do you do mainly DJ sets?
I only play my own stuff live with two MPC’s and outboard synths, which makes it more fun for me and the listeners and also allows me to leave computers out of it all together.
What are your plans for 2014? EP/album, more touring?
I have had some good news recently regarding releases and gigs but it has to stay quiet for now as its planned for later in the year. 2013 was rather slow for me so I’m working on a much higher output this year!