Focus: interview with Mr. Monkey (IT)

December 22, 2020

1. Bologna is the birthplace of the Hip-Hop counterculture in Italy, and the city has always stood out for its multicultural identity and openness to all types of art. How important was the Bolognese environment for the development of your creativity?I have always lived quite far from the city center, above a mountain lost in the woods. Probably, my creativity began to develop between free time, boredom, and solitude, not frequenting clubs and musicians. That said, unlike other big cities, Bologna is a place where art, for better or for worse, has always remained pure, niche, and uninfluenced by trends because it is external to certain dynamics; we are not in a frenetic city where people pursue opportunities, here it is chill, if you want to do or create something, you have to do it yourself! And it is precisely this concept that drives art in a more authentic direction.

2. Beyond music. What are the activities that you are passionate about besides music? Mr. Monkey, tell us about Matteo.I reserve a lot of my time for music, but I also love skateboarding, which I recently took up again. I was super excited about it when I was a kid, then slowly I didn't have time anymore, and I was always sore, but the flame never went out. I have many other small interests, especially in other artistic forms outside of music. For example, drawings fascinate me a lot.

3. You are one of the few Italian producers belonging to the Z generation. What do you want to say to "boomers" who tend to discredit young people today, perhaps not fully understanding the contemporary world? Describe your generation.
Maybe in a hundred years, someone will be really able to define this generation. I think the real problem lies in the impossibility of seeing and therefore building a solid future. I don't want to get into the various reasons that cause this circumstance, but growing up and living in this way leads to adopting a mentality and thought patterns that are drastically different from those of the past generation. Not to mention that we are almost all "slaves" to social media. I say slaves because they are a real brain drug, they distance us from reality by selling us a magnificent and utopian reality. I don't know anyone in real life who is happy and carefree as they appear on Instagram; we live in a period where reality is so camouflaged that it becomes fiction in every respect, but we continue to call it reality. If you, "boomer," who are reading this response, try to open your mind by questioning those principles that you firmly rooted and try to "update" your view of things, you would probably better understand young people.

You have been playing for practically forever. One of the first approaches to music happened thanks to the Guitar Hero guitar on PlayStation. How do you think the relationship between musician and music has changed with the advent of technology?

think technology has made everything more accessible. Fifty years ago, it was really complex and expensive to make a song, today, with a few hundred euros, you have the necessary means to make music. It is not even necessary to learn how to play an instrument, production programs allow you to create a song only and exclusively using the mouse. However, I want to clarify a point that is often not clear, the producer does not necessarily have to be a musician, the role of the producer is to direct the work following his artistic vision to create a coherent and well-packaged product.

2. Considering your studies, we can define you as a complete musician. You were born as a guitarist, then drums, piano, and bass. What are the reasons that led you to the world of digital production?

I have always dreamed of a band, I tried for years to create the right formation, but I always failed, and that's why I chose to do everything alone. When I started producing, I didn't even know about the existence of the figure of the producer; I listened to rock music, and in my mind, the music was made by the band members. I recorded guitar tracks on other guitar tracks, adding sounds that I liked, it was music without genre, today I would say even without sense, but it was purely done for pleasure, I never thought of publishing those "songs." In 2015, I approached the rap scene, everyone around me seemed to want to be rappers, so I tried to convert my musical skills into beats. Initially, I underestimated electronic music a lot, realizing later that actually making beats was much more complex than I could imagine. (Try asking a die-hard rocker what they think of electronic music, and 90% will tell you that if there are no musicians, it is not music, and that anyone can make music on a computer. I was a die-hard rocker).

3. On a musical level, what are the sounds and genres that most excite you? And which of these influences can be found in your work?

I have been told of all colors. Some hear funky influences, some hear old-school hip hop, and some hear vaporwave. I am a fan of all musical genres, rock music is the one that touches my heart more than anything else, but I really can't say what influences my work. I think that every artist, in some way, always has their ears open, I could have been influenced by the sounds of the Transformers movements as far as I'm concerned. When inspiration comes, the music comes out, and that's it, I don't care what genre it is, what the purpose will be, etc. I keep adding elements until I create a mood that can express and satisfy my mood.

ROME1. Recently, you have worked with artists from Rome such as Psicologi, producing "Festa" and "Vestiti d'odio feat. Tredici Pietro," and Vipra with the single "Bene dai." Tell us how these projects were born and what struck you about the artists."Vestiti d'odio" is really a song that came out on the fly. I remember I made another beat for that collaboration, but it didn't work, and as a second attempt, the instrumental of "Vestiti d'odio" came out. The vocals were written and recorded in just one afternoon on the first day I met the guys in person in Milan."Bene dai" instead came out in a two-day session in which I hosted Vipra at my house. We locked ourselves in the studio and simply had fun, in two days, we closed two pieces, the other one is even better, and it will be released soon! I have great respect for the artists I collaborate with, Psicologi are undoubtedly the official spokespersons of our generation, and Vipra is a respectable author, always a few steps ahead and with melodic intuitions that personally make me fly.

2. Which artist from the Roman scene would you like to collaborate with in the future?Choosing only one is very difficult because Rome is full of very talented artists, but given my musical influences and background, I really have a great weakness for Ketama126: he is the GOAT.

3. Tell us about your experience at Touch The Wood-Goa Club. What do you remember about the evening of December 14, 2019? How important do you think live shows and clubbing are for music, considering the particular period we are living in?It was a crazy evening, formidable organization, and a very warm audience. Live shows are essential for music, both economically and as the real moment when a connection is created with the public. Clubbing is also fundamental, both for the experience itself, which I personally miss terribly in this period, and for the spread and discovery of new songs.

By Diego Fei

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