We caught up with producer, performer and label owner John Monkman to discuss his new single, his creative process and more…
John Monkman - Interview
Hi John, welcome to Minimal Mag! Where do you find yourself right now and how have you been?
Hello hello, I am good and thank you for having me. My wife, son and I took the plunge and moved to Ibiza in November 2021, and we are now up in the north getting into Island life.
You are releasing a new single, Entropy, can you tell us something about the track?
Entropy is a trip down the rabbit hole. I’ve become obsessed with the Buchla Modular over the last couple of years. If you’re into its sound, there should be some familiarity here.
What I’ve found and been drawn towards recently, is that you can get away with a lot of randomness/wild soundscapes/sound design, but when you ground it with a structure /arrangement that is approachable, you know as a dancer/listener what is comíng, then the craziness is contained, and people know what to do – This combination is powerful.
What’s it like running your own label, Beesemyer Music? What’s the project’s vision?
I like that I get to oversee the full spectrum of activities that are required to get music in the right place – from the artwork design to forging new relationships with PR/marketing teams. It’s nice when there’s a team working together towards the same goal.
We’re not putting out huge amounts of records, so In the end, it’s always down to the right music, as well as the music being complemented with a strong visual identity.
Can you tell us something about your audiovisual live shows? How did this come about and what’s the ethos behind them?
Crafting visuals is similar to writing music – It’s about exploring and representing ideas within the music with colour and structure. Like the music process, there are infinite paths you can go down when making visuals/Digital art – I like the reductive nature of the process and committing to an idea.
It’s always evolving as I learn and develop new skills. I’m either working in After Effects, creating clips or using software that sits inside Ableton and utilizes Max for Live. Here I create custom visuals that react to inputs from the music.
John Monkman - Entropy
How did you develop your musical skills and what challenges have you faced along the way? Equally, what have been some of the highlights of your career?
I started tinkering in Cubase back in 2000 – I’m self-taught, in a time of pre-Youtube tutorials, so I really had to figure things out, there was a lot of reverse engineering going on i.e if there was a sound I liked, I would try to recreate it. More so than often, where I ended up wasn’t how they had made it, but the process of trying to work it out, led me down a path where I began to create sounds that I could reality connect with.
My recent Live set at South Africa’s Origin Festival was simply sublime. It was one of those truly special dancefloors, nestled into the woods by a lake with a solid dancefloor kicking up dust. After the Covid pause, it was precisely what was needed.
Working alongside Bryan Ferry on his album Olympia – two of the days involved going deep in the studio with David Gilmour, from Pink Floyd. As someone who worshipped Dark Side of the Moon, this was a real moment to be cherished.
What’s your process when creating new music? You are a known studio wizard, has your set-up and approach evolved over the years?
For me the most important part is coming up with that initial idea – this could be a sequence, melody idea, a tone – something where I feel I’ve tapped into another world and will form the basis and character of the song. When the foundation is there, then I start going through the mental checklist of production and mixing techniques to get the song up to scratch, so it delivers the goods.
What’s next for you and the label?
The web3 space has grabbed my attention over the last couple of years – from the artist and label perspective, it creates some interesting new opportunities and concepts to explore – The web3 artist perspective really supports the ‘do it yourself’ mentality, which I like and as a label. I’m looking at ways we can integrate the artistic aspiration so that it co-exists and we can evolve in tandem.
John Monkman - Links
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