Many producers tend to have musical “split personalities”, the likes of Luke Vibert and Aphex Twin who release stuff under a few different names depending on the style. The same can be said for Irish producer Dave Mono.
From starting off producing Dubstep and 2-step under his DROKKR alias, he’s slowly moved to the more Electro/Ambient/Acid sounds of Dave Mono. As someone who takes influence across the musical spectrum from metal to electronic, it’s this “split personality” that keeps it all interesting, and gives him scope to feed his love of different sounds.
With a new fortnightly show on Future Music FM, as well as making heaps of new tunes, he’s nothing if not a busy man. However, he managed found time to sit down and answer a few questions for us, as well as lay down an exclusive Dave Mono mix which features all his own productions and give us an insight into his head.
Starting from the beginning, when do you remember getting into music? If I’m correct you were big into metal before getting into electronic stuff (like most of us)?
My earliest memory of music that I loved is from when I was very young and asking about Glenn Miller, a big band/swing artist from the early forties. After that (and from then on) it was a case of everything and anything as the radio was always on in our house. Then came Hip Hop and Metal kind of came at the same time for me when I started secondary school.
Honestly, being a teenager in the nineties was very exciting when it came to music. Something that I consider vital was watching No Disco – it changed everything as it opened my ears and eyes to a whole new world of music. By the time I was finishing secondary school, I was very much in love with music.
As obvious as it may sound, I love it all. From Acid House to Grindcore, Hip Hop to Dubstep and pretty much everything and anything in between. Drexciya are at the top of the pile. I must not to forget to mention all the input from and running around clubs, pubs and sessions with all my friends over the years, that where I found the real gold.
When did this love of music translate into producing? Did you play any instruments before this?
I had a poke around on some software (including on my PlayStation!) and had interest in how certain sounds were made and so on. I was very aware of Knifehandchop or even one hit wonder, White Town for making electronic music at home but never really was bothered production until I saw Phuture at BLOC Weekend in 2008. My life changed at and after that set. I came home and pretty much dumped myself into learning about producing music.
Never really played any instruments but looking to start a collection of wood percussion instruments soon.
You started off under the moniker DROKKR, could you give us a bit of background on that side of your production? How has it evolved over the years?
It started off, quite simply, with me wanting to learn how to do things. I never thought it was going to go much further than that to be honest. It was initially very raw, where I was just making music and not thinking about it. It was quite pure now that I’m thinking about it, and super exciting times too.
Around then, I was making Dubstep and bits of 2-step. These days, a DROKKR gig is wide open from 140bpm and everything else beyond that.
Currently you’re producing more and more under the Dave Mono alias, what were the initial thoughts behind this? What’s the big difference between the DROKKR stuff and Dave Mono stuff?
Dave Mono came about after some advice where it was suggested I should draw a line in the sand in what I was doing. There was a period where I was making some ambient and techno but it sounded like a whole other person was making it, and it was never going to fall under DROKKR. With this the gears started to change and this advice pretty much gave birth to Dave Mono.
On the creative side of things, I have some sort of a musical spilt personality. Undoubtedly, I’m in a different headspace when working as one or the other but it’s not a conscious decision – what happens, happens.
Can you give us a bit of background on your production setup? How has this evolved over the years and what are the main components of your studio now?
Hardware from Korg, Novation, Focusritre, Akai, Native Instruments and Yamaha and on the software front, I’m running FL20 and Ableton Live with a bunch of third-party VSTs. FL is the workhorse though. I wouldn’t say the setup has evolved a great deal, but I feel like I have in my approach. Besides learning every day, my workflow. ideas, and knowledge about what I’m doing and want to do go beyond any gear I could have.
Every producer ever has the debate about software vs hardware, where do you sit in this debate? Do you notice any benefit one offers the other to your own sound?
Each to their own. Whatever you use, it is just a tool to create your music, your art. Don’t ever let someone tell you the equipment or technology that you use is wrong.
You recently had a health scare with regards your brain and it almost seemed like you might not be making music again. What effect has this had on your music do you think?
It has been a blessing in disguise. My approach has been refreshed and my appreciation for all kinds of music has been invigorated. As mind meltingly terrifying as it was, I am taking nothing but strengths from it all.
How do your gigs work? What kind of setup have you got for them, and is it mostly live or DJ, or a mixture? How do you approach putting a set together?
As with my production, gigs are from 2 angles. Currently, Dave Mono is built around a core of loops and and edits of my recent output all backed up with some improvisation. If I’m DJing as Dave Mono or DROKKR, it’s 4 channels of tracks with 3 channels of way too many loops of mine. Whichever way it goes, it’s busy enough to keep it all very fun.
What’s the biggest tip you’ve learned through years of producing? And what tip would you give to producers starting out?
Layering. From snares to FX, layer and layer some more. You have to make it your own.
My tip is simple and in 2 halves – don’t put anything on the master channel. Ever. Also, trust your ears – you’re making music because you love music. You’ll know if something sounds good.
What DJ’s and producers are you listening to at the moment?
I could almost write a book on this one.
At the moment, everyone here is on rotation and I keep hitting the Digital Distortions mixes too.
Producers: Drexciya, Sully, Monster X, Scanone, Yussef Kamaal, The Exaltics, everyone on Brownswood Recordings and Houndstooth, Neil Landstrumm, Sync 24, Jensen Interceptor, Eomac, Mantronix, Posthuman, Ontal, Ben Pest, The Satan, Somatic Responses. I should stop there.
What does the rest of 2018/2019 hold? Have you any more projects planned?
Just started a new show on Futuremusic FM – Noise Farm, which is a two hour adventure into my music collection. Really happy that it’s off the ground now. I’m also looking at putting on a few nights again in Cork too.
On the production side of things, I have two remix projects going on now and there’s a second Dave Mono album underway and I’m also in talks with some lovely people about a Dave Mono ambient/experimental release, as well as slowly putting together a DROKKR self-release for my Bandcamp. Looking forward to getting some bookings coming in again too.
Big thanks to Dave for the interview. Check out his mix below and make sure and keep an eye on his social profiles for upcoming gigs and releases.
DROKKR – Untitled
DROKKR – Untitled
DROKKR – I Will Not Break
Dave Mono – Suspend
Dave Mono – Gravity Drive
Dave Mono – Blocks
Dave Mono – Different Sky
Dave Mono – Mooveupp
Dave Mono – Begin Search
Dave Mono – Nucleus
Dave Mono – Surrft
Dave Mono – Chained
Dave Mono – The Man In Black
Dave Mono – All Aboard
Dave Mono – Annoy
Dave Mono – No Phones on The Dancefloor