For our 5th huddle podcast we’ve enlisted the services of Sheffield based thatmanmonkz. A superb producer and DJ he's been inspired by a wide range of influences including Moodymann, J Dilla and Brian Clough.
He’s delivered a mean and moody mix straight from the basement. Check it out above
Monkz has just launched a new label in Shadeleaf Music. The first release is super dope and can be grabbed from Juno HERE. The release features the vocal talents of the fantastic Dnae and a rather tasty edit from Chris Duckenfield. Check the clips below on Soundlcoud.
We caught up with Monkz for a quick fire Q&A session....
We love the first release from Shadeleaf. After so many years of making music what made you want to start a label now?
To be honest, having my own label has always been part of the plan, particularly after returning to production. I didn't think it would happen this soon, but, the opportunity presented itself and I pretty much had to take it.... Having my own outlet for releases gives me a greater degree of freedom in the studio, as well as the opportunity to manage the timing of releases. There's a lot of work though....
Having answered to several different label bosses for a few years it must be a good feeling creatively to be calling the shots on your music?
Yeh, it does to a point, definitely, though I've still got great relationships with a lot of the label's I've dealt with, and am still planning to release regularly with other people alongside doing things for Shadeleaf. I think it more stems from me going full time on working in music.... I felt like it needed my full attention to develop technically and artistically, and, inevitably, that has increased the amount of music I actually make. It also opens up the opportunity of producing for vocalists and musicians, rather than just featuring them on my own material, which is challenging and exciting to do.
Is the label purely going to be a vehicle for your music or will you be signing material from other artists?
Though i'm going to be fairly heavily involved in the early releases, and the first is one of mine, the second release is actually from Khalil Anthony, a vocalist from the states, and is some reworks i've done for him of tracks from his recent album. He visited a couple of weeks ago to work on some original demo's.. I'm also working with a really talented singer/songwriter from London called J.Gordon, have much more stuff in the pipeline with Dnae (who's on "Burnin Up" on the current 12), and Pete Simpson, who helps me out a lot with live instrumentation, will hopefully want to get onto something vocally soon enough too.... Also, i've already chatted to a few people I'm into about signing up some material, and definitely see Shadeleaf going that way in the future.
All of your releases seem to come out on vinyl, is seeing something physical come from all your hard work important to you?
Yeh, definitely. As a collector myself, I like there to be a tangible 'thing' to buy if you want it, that's really why we've started as a vinyl-only operation. I'm sure we'll get to digital releases in the future, but, it seemed like the right way to start off and let people know what we're about.... It's great that it's become possible to do this again, with the resurgence in vinyl sales, and i've been getting invaluable advice and help on the label from Chris Duckenfield, who knows this game backwards, so, that's definitely helped!
You seem to embrace the chance to collaborate with other artists, such as Toddla T and the Small Arms Fiya stuff or Danimal Swainger under your S & M guise, how do the two processes differ?
They're very different ways of working, and, within that, each collaboration is unique too. Personally, I've always loved working with other people. It gives you the opportunity to try new things, or to have influences in a track that maybe wouldn't find their way there on one of your own. Also, i've been lucky enough to work with people who have different strengths than mine in the studio, and that's a great way to learn new techniques, and to make music outside of your comfort zone. When I started out I was mostly working with other people, and I was and still am, getting advice from people like Ross Orton and Pete Simpson when I need it, so, in reality it's the collaborative process that has helped me develop to a point where I feel comfortable working alone.
Aside from T and Swain that you've mentioned i've been working a little lately with Squarehead and Oushe Music, Walter Ego, and S-Unit (on the Ex P's stuff), and, as with pretty much everyone i've ever worked with, they've taught me something, or brought something to the studio that I don't..... Thinking about it, every time a vocalist or musician comes into the studio, you have to go through some type of collaborative process, that's one of the parts I like most about the studio, the trade off of ideas.
You've mentioned collaborations with Squarehead and Oushe Music, Walter Ego and S-Unit, all Sheffield based producers. How do you rate the scene currently in the Steel City?
It's pretty healthy right now. There's a lot of younger guys and new stuff happening, along with a resurgence for some of the more seasoned veterans of the scene up here. People seem to be really supportive of each other, and the return to popularity of genres like house (and old school hip hop), are making the newer and older crowds, artists, promoters, and deejays integrate in a way I haven't really seen for a while. That said, there's never been any shortage of creativity and artistic integrity here in Sheffield, but, personally, it is really cool to see the city embracing the kind of thing I naturally gravitate towards....
What can we look forward to from thatmanmonkz and Shadeleaf in 2014?
Hopefully lots! I'm getting around and about deejaying and spreading the word, which is cool, and i'm bound to say that we've got exciting things in the pipeline, but I genuinely mean it... The Khalil Anthony release is due in January, i'm finishing up the third as we speak. I've got a couple of releases on other labels due in the early part of next year that i'm really excited about, and the fruits of some of the collaborations we've mentioned will be out there too. Alongside production for the vocalists i've mentioned on their own stuff, exploring some other genres again, and soundtracking a short film the inbox is looking pretty full! To be honest, i'm just grateful that these opportunities have come along, and i'm really enjoying it.... Thanks for speaking to me too, big fan of your guys, so, much appreciated!