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Rising Artists: Monto

Take me down to Monto, Monto Monto..,

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The second piece in our Rising Stars feature is on solo artist Monto aka Ross O'Sullivan and he sat down to chat with Bodytonicmusic.com Staff Writer Jimmy O'Sullivan (no relation....well, in fact we don't know, we never asked but it's a pretty common Irish name so let's go with 'probably no relation')...

Monto (Ross O'Sullivan) is quite possibly the youngest producer to impact on the Irish electronic scene in recent years. Already cited in the bastions of print media in Ireland and making sizeable waves in the Irish music blogosphere, the fresh-faced 19 year old has been going from strength to strength since signing to Northern Ireland's very own 'Melted Music' label last year.

With a wide breadth of releases ranging from Blake-esque hip-hop reconstructions to finely balanced chillwave opuses, Monto has more than proved his production chops and is fast becoming a stalwart on the Irish live circuit. In the second of our regular feature on upcoming Irish live electronic acts, we join the Wicklow-based producer for a short chat about life, music and his experiences breaking the Irish scene.

How did you get into producing?

A couple of years ago I bought an MPC500 so I could make some hip hop. After I couldn’t figure out how to get the songs from the machine onto the computer I gave up on hardware, got a copy of Fruity Loops and went from there. A lot of the stuff I was making back then wasn’t exactly deadly, old soul loops thrown over drums. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of using VST synths either, never seemed to sound as good as the samples. As soon as I got some sort of grasp of using them I started making more electronic stuff. Thank God, I’d probably still be making shite hip hop beats if I hadn’t.

You've been compared favourably to Gold Panda amongst others. If you were to name your biggest musical influence(s) at the moment, who would they be?

Yeah I love that comparison; Gold Panda makes great music. I’ve absolutely no idea who my biggest influence is. I listen to a lot of different music, so I usually get ideas from whatever I’ve been listening to the most recently. I’ve been enjoying listening to Mount Kimbie a lot recently, the organic sound they have is so nice. If I fall into a decent amount of money soon I’m going to buy a field recorder and just fuck around all day recording different sounds to use in tracks. Ambience album out 2k12.

How did you find trying to get gigs and label attention at such a young age? How did getting signed to Melted Music come about?

Ah it wasn’t that bad, I was never actively looking for gigs, and to be honest Melted Music was the only label I shared the music with because I knew the manager Matt from a website we post on for a couple of years. Up until the signing in the summer last year I was only making music for myself and a handful of people online, Matt being one of them. I got an email from him one day saying that he was enjoying the stuff I was putting on Soundcloud, and wanted to know if I’d be up for joining the label. I knew that they already had SertOne on their roster. I’d consider him one of the top beat-makers in Ireland at the moment, so it was pretty obvious this was the right place for me. A couple of months down the line and it was you lads at Bodytonic that gave me my first gig in October for the Beatyard festival (thanks!). That came as quite a surprise as I hadn’t really wrapped my head around the idea that there was people out there that wanted to see this stuff done live.

Could you run us through your live setup?

Sure, It’s pretty primitive at the moment as I just rely on an MPD32 (Akai's MPC like Midi-Interface) & Ableton Live. I’m looking to expand it a bit though, get a midi keyboard at the very least. I was actually talking to a lad in my course about getting him to play live percussion for some gigs. Haven’t practised it yet but if all goes well that could come as a nice addition to the show.

Do you have a 'weapon of choice' when producing?

Haha, I hate saying this. Massive (Native Instrument's infamous software instrument). I know it’s known for Dubstep and shit but I think it’s great. Almost all the synth chords & solo lines I use in my tracks end up being made with Massive, such a versatile little chappy.

Have you any anecdotes from disastrous gigs?

Yeah, every fucking gig I do I manage to mess up at least once. Plugged into a soundbox at the twisted pepper and the bass from the stage made the box fall off the table, everything cut out. Played a gig in the Electric Lounge last week and set a knob on my MPD to control tempo. Was going a bit gungho on-stage, twisted the wrong knob, set the speed to around 250bpm... I’m a disaster, haha!

Do you feel that the scene in Ireland for live electronic acts is a welcoming/nurturing one? Is there anything in particular you'd liked to see change about the Dublin scene ?

I really do to be honest. At the moment it’s still a small scene, like most of the artists know each other pretty well, or have at least met each other once or twice. I’m still fairly new to all this but from what I’ve seen and experienced so far I love it. The Dublin scene is pretty perfect for me, as for Wicklow, I just wish there was some sort of scene in Wicklow. Even a club night. Anything.

You must be delighted to be billed for the Airbound Weekender in London this Easter weekend; Have you anything else exciting lined up for the future?

I’m ecstatic for that one man, will be my first time in London too so experiencing the city while on a boat party on the Thames will be great fun. More recently than that I’ll be part of the Lightbox tour of Ireland that runs from the 18th February to the 1st of March. We’ll be doing Cork, Dublin, Galway , Limerick & Belfast, and we’ll be doing workshops before every show so hopefully that will convince people to head down. I’ll also (fingers crossed) be releasing a split vinyl EP with SertOne in the coming months. After that hopefully a couple of festivals around Ireland in the summer, followed by world domination.

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© Jimmy O'Sullivan Images by Josh Gordon

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