LTtheMonk begins his independent work. This uniquely inspired musician, who has made a name for himself through a handful of tasty songs.
His music is unclassifiable, but it has no rival. Close your eyes and let the sensations flow.
Can you us a little about your experience? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
I'm originally from London, growing up in the Bromley area, and I got into music through my parents. My Mum is Jamaican so she exposed me to a lot of great reggae music, and my Dad, who was born in Dublin, was showing me rock music any time we were in the car together. But the defining moment was actually through them both teaching at Hayes School in South London, as when I was around 7 years old, there was a student showcase there, and one girl did an amazing performance of Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' video. I immediately fell in love with music there and wanted to be a musician, and thinking back to that still inspires me many years later!
I feel like the underground scene will continue to persist. Do you think we can go back to "normal" events and festivals?
I think we can, the connections that we make as artists with music fans at events and festivals is too important not to come back in the future, so I think everyone will work to do their part to make it happen! Even if shows and festivals have new rules and regulations to be safe for a few years, it'll be great to get all the musicians back on stage and all the fans back in the crowd, and then I'm sure after that when everything has been proven to be safe, we'll be back to what we consider "normal". I for one miss the stage way too much to not be optimistic for the future, and I'll be doing everything I can to make the return to "normal" happen in the future!
How is your sound evolving? What artists and genres do you enjoy mixing right now?
To link with your last question, my sound is evolving with the stage really. I perform with a live band, so the 'On The Wall' album was written and sequenced specifically for live shows, with my musicians. And I think my sound itself is evolving further in that direction, wanting to make groove-based music that I can dance to on stage, that my musicians can really make funky, and that the people at the shows will want to move to as well. And as I think about these answers I'm listening to Earth, Wind & Fire, after having enjoyed some Benny the Butcher, some Sade, and some Smino this morning!
How do you feel that your music influences or impacts your listeners?
2Pac (one of my heroes and true inspirations) said that you're either going to make the listeners dance, or you're going to make them think, but I think I do both with my music. I think my groove songs that make people dance give people a feeling of freedom, an escapism as they get lost in the music and the movement, but then I think my political songs really make people think, think about race, racism and all the social problems that I discuss, and hopefully make them feel politically represented by my songs.
What projects are you working on right now?
I'm always writing, but right now I'm mainly thinking of concepts for the music videos to accompany the 'On The Wall' singles. I love telling stories with the videos, making them into almost short films that turn the songs into soundtracks to the scenes, as opposed to just visuals to go with the words. The new 'Dark Italians' video has especially had a great reaction, so I want to keep thinking of good concepts to make powerful statements with the visual side of the art.
How was Dark Italians born? What did you want to convey?
Dark Italians was born from Spike Lee's 'Do The Right Thing' movie, my favourite movie and the inspiration behind the 'On The Wall' album. Spike Lee's character pointed out that Southern Italians have darker skin, and specifically Sicilians because of the invasion of the island by the North African Moors many centuries ago. So I was thinking about the African heritage of Sicilians, and the fact that Black rappers have often been obsessed with Sicilian Mafia culture (the Mafia being born in Sicily), and I realized that no one had made that cultural link in song before. So in my song/video I wanted to convey this image of me being a young Black Godfather, inspired by hip-hop, the Mafia, and the bloodline that takes us all back to our African heritage.
What was your production criteria?
I was sitting with my drummer Lucas (known as DeltoidTheNEW as a producer) in summer 2019, and I gave him the concept of the 'On The Wall' album that was in my mind, and the criteria for the production was anything hard-hitting that was at the highest musical level we could make. Going back to the 'on stage' mindset I had, I wanted live instrumental solos (the reason for the guitar solo at the end of 'Dark Italians'), songs that my musicians could really groove with, and that would give the listeners energy and make them move, and that's what inspired the album's production. And luckily, I was able to work with some great people like Deltoid, goneboy, Jay Gogna, ROYOS, RenderVerse and Luke Martins, who all understood this concept.
How would you define your sound?
Sometimes it's hard to define because some of my songs are very classic hardhitting hip-hop, and some songs take inspiration from jazz or rock music, but I would define my sound generally (and the sonic direction that you're going to see me move further into with my future music) as lyrics that make you think, over instrumentals that make you dance.
What piss you off?
Discrimination. Fake artists that don't really love music, that just love fame. And any time Manchester United lose.
What makes you happy?
Laughter. Real music and seeing people that really love music. And any time Manchester United win.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Always stay optimistic, as joyful and humorous as you can be, and keep working hard, because success will come your (our) way if you (we) attract it.