Exclusive Interview & Guest Mix: Monita

We are extremely excited to post this interview together with an amazing guest mix from the one and only DJ Monita. No need for an introduction, let’s just put that mix on while reading!

I usually start from the beginning to get to know a little bit more about your background as an artist, and how you ended up doing what you’re doing now. Tell me how it all started.

It all started around late 1991 I think, when a guy from my estate approached me. He knew I was a DJ into hardcore/rave and said he had just got some sampling and sequencing software for his PC and if I fancied taking up some vinyl to his to sample.
I took a bunch of vinyl up there and started sampling some breaks and noises. We got as far as looping up a break and throwing some noise over it, but he didn’t really know how to use the software properly and I got easily bored after a couple of visits. It really gave me the bug though and I wanted more, so an old friend introduced me to a guy (K-Rox) who had quite a decent studio set up in his home bedroom.
That basically was the beginning.

I know you started the label in -92, what made you want to start your own label?

After a few sessions at K-Rox Studios I ended up with two completed tracks, ‘System Crashed’ and ‘Luv Ta Luv Ya’. I had a little bit of money and was really keen to try to get them pressed to vinyl. So rather than approaching labels, I enquired about getting 1000 copies pressed up myself.
Originally, I was going to go with a standard white label with a hand stamp on each, but someone showed me a logo that they saw at a car show of a skull & cross bones which I quite liked the look of and after a few little changes, the original Skeleton logo was created. All hand drawn!

Where did the name Skeleton Recordings and Monita come from?

Back in them days I used to knock about with a bunch of skinny guys that had the name the Skeleton Krew, so Skeleton Recordings seemed very fitting to match the logo. It was that simple.
Monita was actually something that an old friend and I came up with. I had been DJ’ing for about 3-4 months when she said I needed a DJ name. We both sat down on her bed, pen and paper in hand and started coming up with some names. Some really bad names!!
Monitor was favourite choice for us both, but I decided for one reason or another to spell it incorrectly like I did with Luv Ta Luv Ya. It’s caused me a few headaches over the years though, as quite a few think it’s pronounced Mon-ee-ta, which to me sounds like a European female DJ!

You stopped in -94 due to personal and financial reasons, was it a hard decision?

Not really, as I was pre-occupied with my eldest child by then and had started full time work. I got taken for a ride by the distribution company that were supposed to be selling / pushing Skeleton and they ended up just sitting on the last two releases (SKEL012 & SKEL013) which caused me to lose money.
Also, I didn’t really understand and appreciate just how much the label was recognised back then, so I didn’t think it would be missed much.

20 years later you re-launched with the 20th anniversary release of The Razors Edge but before that you had releases on Moving Shadow. Was it difficult to balance being a family man, working and also producing tracks together with Dom&Roland?

Yeah, it was very difficult. Working and earning regular money was my priority, as I had to look after my little family.
Dom was local to me, so we used to get together to work on bits as much as my time would allow. He is an absolute legend, as we know and it was always fun working on beats with him.

Has it always been drum&bass/jungle for you, or have you explored other genres as well?

My love for Drum & Bass comes originally from my 80’s electro days when I used to be a breaker. It certainly was the foundation for what has become my love for D&B.
I am quite open to all kinds of music. 70’s soul, 80’s and 90’s Hip-Hop, as well as some other stuff from some bands. I’ll probably get slated for admitting this, but I’m quite fond of Coldplay.

Exciting project for you and Skeleton to celebrate the 25th anniversary, what can you tell us about it?

Basically it’s 20 tracks spread over 5 vinyl releases to celebrate 25 years of Skeleton. The whole project took around a year to get to a finished state and ready for release.
The plan was to release the project over 4 months. Volumes 1 & 2 in September, Volumes 3 & 4 in October, the final part Volume 5 as a picture disc in November and then the digital release in December.
I wanted to do something for the vinyl collectors and decided to do some sort of collector’s piece. The artworks from Volumes 1 to 4 when pieced together make up one big piece of art of the original Skeleton logo. Also, giving exclusivity to the people that buy vinyl by me not releasing the digital versions until after all five volumes have been released.

How did you find the producers you wanted for this project? You’ve included some lesser known names on the first four volumes, did people recommend producers for you or did you go on a hunt for them?

Some of them have had their own release on Skeleton and I now class as friends rather than music associates, so had to have them be a part of it.
Everyone on there I rate as a producer and don’t get me wrong, it was hard work cracking that whip on some of them to get stuff finished and the track sounding right for both myself as well as them.
Yeah, each of the first four volumes do have an artist on that I felt just needed a little push. So, in my eyes, including them into a project that includes some household names from the scene was the right way to go about it.
They were people I was already in contact with anyway and were already sending demos over to me. There were more artists I could’ve gone for, but I chose the guys I thought fitted in best with the plans of the project.
There’s not one bad track on this project in my opinion and the lesser known artists really held their own.

What do you enjoy the most; djing, producing or running a record label?

Easily DJ’ing. I like being able to test out any new bits for the label and get a nice crowd reaction if things are going well during a set. People make me laugh when they say I look moody and not enjoying it when I’m behind the decks. But I love it. That look they see is my ‘focused’ look, not ‘Moody Monita’.
I haven’t produced for many years now, but always did enjoy being in the studio and having made that finished track that you and others can finally play. Maybe next year this will happen again. There’s been plenty of offers, so who knows?

What’s the hardest part of running your own label? What’s the best part?

The hardest part is definitely having to deal with the stuff to make the end product right. Tracks not mixed down quite right, pressing issues, delays in manufacturing when you have deadlines to meet etc. These are the things that most of the public don’t see.
The best is seeing all the posts, photos and comments from the supporters and also getting feedback and recognition on releases from some big names in the scene. To know that people appreciate the end result really does make all the issues that were dealt with to get that result worthwhile.

Do you ever go out raving when you’re not playing?

I try to go out as much as I can to support and network, although it has been known that I do actually shake a leg now when out.
Problem is that there’s so many good events on now that I do have to choose wisely or I’ll be out every weekend. The main ones I try not to miss are Rupture and Metalheadz events as they are always good nights for hearing quality music and socialising.
There’s a nice little group of people around at the moment that are always to be found at one event or another, so even if I go out on my own there’s always people I know in the venue.

Do you have any Skeleton nights planned?

I actually had an event in August which was done alongside Repertoire. We held it down in Rye Wax, SE London, which is a nice little intimate venue with a capacity of around 120.
Myself, Law, Dead Mans Chest, Tim Reaper, Future and Charlie Turbo were on the line up as these have represented either label with a release. The night seemed to be a success. A lot of the crowd have been asking when we are doing another one, but I haven’t thought too much about it yet. Maybe next year. Who knows?

You’ve also made a mix for us, thank you so much for that! What we can expect to hear?

You’re welcome! I quite enjoyed doing it to be honest. It’s a short 40 minute mix of Skeleton tracks which are all vinyl releases.
There’s a couple of older bits in there, quite a few selected from the XXV Project and also a couple of VIP remixes to be released in the near future. A little exclusive for Drum+Basics.
One of the remixes being a VIP of my ‘Nightmares’ which has been done by Ricky Force, this is being pressed to vinyl. The other is a rework of another of my tracks, ‘Smart Kid’, which has been done by Threshold and Theory, which again will be coming out on vinyl alongside something else which I’m not going to say too much about at the moment.

When you’re at home and want to relax, what music do you listen to?

I tend not to listen to music at home to relax. I try to catch up on movies or TV as I’m surrounded by music for most of the day.
Other styles of music I listen to though are old school 80’s Hip-Hop and 90’s rap. They are my favourite outside of D&B.

What 3 things would you bring to a desert island?

This is an easy one. My 3 kids. I couldn’t survive without them. Although I’m not quite sure they would feel the same!

What’s next for Monita and Skeleton?

Just planning and scheduling for 2018 now. The final part of the XXV Project has just been released, with a double CD of the full album coming in the next couple of weeks.
I have a nice little vinyl release out in December.
Januarys release, which is SKELR11, has just been mastered and cut and I have already finalised the releases for SKELR12, 13 and 14. Plus a few things to tie up for a couple of other releases. So 2018 is all go at the moment.
I also want to start gigging on a regular basis as I’m really enjoying it when I play out. So if anyone is interested, then you can get in touch through my social media or email info@skeletonrecordings.co.uk

Any famous last words?

Of course I would like to thank all the fans and supporters of the label. There has been a lot of love and support shown this year and I really do appreciate it.
Thanks to each of the artists that have appeared on Skeleton releases over the years, especially those on the XXV Project that I gave a lot of stick to to get things right and finished on time.
Thank you also to Jenny Jo and Mary-Anne for asking me to do this for Drum+Basics. It’s been an honour.

Here’s to the next 25 years!!

If you want to download the mix, do it from here

Tracklist:

DJ Monita – Nightmares (Ricky Force VIP Remix)
Threshold – Don’t Ask Me Why
Gremlinz – Untitled Bleeps
Response & Pliskin – Ask Yourself
Threshold – Rumours
Steve C & Monita – The Razors Edge (mSdoS 2014 Re-Work)
DSP – Lion
K-Rox & Monita – Smart Kid (Threshold & Theory 2018 Remix)
Antidote – Dead Cities
Tim Reaper – Lake Volta
Future – Time & Space
Sicknote – SCM
Ricky Force – 147

Follow Monita/Skeleton recordings here:

Skeleton Recordings Bandcamp
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