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INTERVIEW: Liquid Monk

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Great! Busy but very excited to be releasing our debut album this fall.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “On The Rocks”?

We were going through a transitional period after our first EP “Yaga, which was rooted more in fusion and jam. We wanted a sound that would encompass our previous work, but also have more appeal. We sent a few instrumental sketches over to Jaye Prime and before we even knew she was down to work with us, she sent back an almost finished copy of the song. We were all blown away when we heard it! The idea to include Hugo Biggs on the track was a happy accident, we were tracking vocals for his tune, “The Vibe” (also on this upcoming album), and asked him to freestyle a verse over “On The Rocks”. It set the tune off, so he penned some lyrics and we laid it down within an hour.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

We had been experimenting more with synthesis during this time and Mike made a transition from guitar to primarily keyboard / synth. This changed the soundscape and set the tone for more of an electro-soul / dance type direction. Our initial concept was to create a live set that we could perform like a DJ but in the context of a live band. We had a bank of grooves, harmonic ideas and simple melodies that we began layering and tying into a 45 minute set that could be performed without stopping. However, as these ideas developed and we started collaborating with vocalists / rappers, they developed into full fledged compositions. Meeting Jaye and writing “On The Rocks” and “Hollywood” was definitely a turning point. It helped define the new album and direction for the band.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes, we actually just finished shooting a video for the song, it is a live performance video. It should be premiered within the next month or so. We are also getting ready to shoot a video for our second single, Nighttime (feat. Kameryn Ogden), coming out in August.

What was it like to work with Jaye Prime and Hugo Biggs? How did those relationships develop?

We got connected with Hugo via a tip from a friend of ours. We listened to his SoundCloud and were very impressed by his voice, approach, lyrics and flow. We reached out and Hugo began to work on some ideas in the studio.  He also did a number of live performances with us towards the end of 2016. As for Jaye, Dan was familiar with her via some studio work he had done in Detroit with Eddie Logix and Mega Powers, so he contacted her and she was down almost immediately. It was remarkable how quickly she could write such strong material. Both are incredibly talented and passionate artists, it was very inspiring to work with them.

How much did they influence the song?

They influenced the songs and album heavily. Each vocalist added lyrics / melodic ideas to the instrumentals and then we took and fully developed them. It was kind of a layered approach, we had the initial concept but really did not know the full direction of the tune until we heard where each collaborator was taking it vocally. That is an exciting aspect of working in this environment, each individual becomes embodied in a collective sound that is a sum of its parts.

The single comes off your new self-titled album – why naming the album after this track in particular?

We chose to self-title the album because it represented a change in direction for the band and we feel like we finally found the sound we had been looking for. We wanted it to set the precedence for what Liquid Monk sounds like so it felt right to self-title it.

How was the recording and writing process?

We did a number of sessions in our rehearsal space last summer and then took these concepts to High Bias Recordings in Detroit last fall.  We laid 9 tracks in an 8 hour session. We kept them pretty bare, mainly just tracking drums, synth bass, rhodes and some keyboard parts. At the time we were doing this, we had a hip hop tune with Hugo and a soul joint with Cousin Mouth, the rest were planned to be instrumental dance. We were still considering linking them together to form more of a DJ Mix. It changed the script once Jaye wrote over two of the instrumentals and Kameryn on another. All the vocals and production work was done by Dan either on site with the vocalist or in his home studio, it took about 4 months after the initial High Bias recording session.

What role does Detroit plays in your writing?

The city has a lot of resilience and that is something we all identify with. We have played with many different bands/projects over the years. It is easy to get burnt out, discouraged, etc. However, we stay focused and continue writing, performing, recording because of our passion for music.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

All of our collaborators wrote their own lyrics. The vocalists we reached out to were chosen because we loved their voices, songwriting and lyricism so we didn’t want to step on that when working with them.

Any plans to hit the road?

Aside from playing in MI and the midwest, there has been some early discussions of doing dates in the UK.

What else is happening next in Liquid Monk’s world?

Festivals this summer, a possible remix and then working on a follow up album.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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