IAA SPOTLIGHT: GET TO KNOW – DRUNKEN MONK – LOUISIANA’S HOTTEST STAR!

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IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?

DRUNKEN MONK: I was born and grew up around Shreveport, Louisiana.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?

DRUNKEN MONK: Like many southern blacks I grew up singing in the church and being exposed to that sound from early on. I also sang in school choirs. In high school, I studied piano at a School Of The Arts in Shreveport. After college, I ended up in New Orleans studying in the health care field. During that time, I began doing open mic and spoken word poetry. I also experimented with what I now know as music production on older computers. 4 to 5 years after that I continued studying production and piano performance in Montana and then the Bay area in Berkeley and Oakland.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?

DRUNKEN MONK: My songs are about my life experiences and about what I have seen and experienced. My songs are about love, hate, life, death, struggle, dreams, hopes, mistakes, having fun, wishing and hoping for more or sometimes less in our endeavors. At the end of the day, I want my songs just to be about giving the listener a moment of enjoyment in their day. I want to convey a story or feeling to that person that I myself have enjoyed. I feel like my African heritage connects me to the traditions of the old griots who were African story tellers. It was a role they lived and from my understanding, it was a job only a select few could perform.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your favorite song to perform and why?

DRUNKEN MONK: My favorite songs to perform? Wow that’s a hard one because I like them all. My first rap album was produced by a friend in the Bay who performs live Jazz and myself. We did several of those songs in a small Cafe in Berkeley, California in front of a small crowd and the connection and energy was amazing. I noticed people respond to rap differently when it is performed with a live band. We performed on of my songs titled “ Cool Like Dat” which was a tribute to the group Digable Planets. Due to challenges of getting live bands together I haven’t performed that song live since then. I’d have to call that song a spoken word style of rap.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What has surprised you the most in the pursuit of a career in music?

DRUNKEN MONK: How much competition there is to be heard and the amount of good artists that are out here still waiting to be heard. I started writing in the 6th grade and poetry was my first art form. I’ve learned even if you craft and hone your skills over a lifetime there is no guarantee you will be heard in today’s world .You have to learn to communicate via multiple outlets and if you don’t you will likely be a lone voice in the wind.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?

DRUNKEN MONK: Blues and Jazz have definitely been a big influence and is the structure that I use when I am putting together songs or produced tracks. I listened to a lot of Miles Davis and Bebop when I was early on in my music studies. The early pioneers of the jazzy hip-hop sound influenced me as well such as The Digable Planets, Guru, and Tribe Called Quest. I listened to 80’s and 90’s rock often while growing up. Groups like Prince, Duran Duran, and The Cars influenced me. I think this is why when I produce I pull from such a huge palette of sounds. Of course I listened to artists such as Tupac and Cash Money records being from the era where you heard them develop their sounds off the rip. Later when I was living in Nashville, the UGK and 666 Mafia sound came to my ears. I can definitely hear the influences from the early trap music in my production style.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?

DRUNKEN MONK: My music is modern electronic funk and trap style with splashes of electronica, blues, jazz, trip-hop, and R&B influences. Though when you listen to songs I have done such as “Hatter’s Love” or “Rumble Young Man Rumble” you can see I have a highly experimental approach towards hip-hop. I attribute to my love of Avant Garde jazz music such as that of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Paul Bley, and Marzette Watts.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?

DRUNKEN MONK: I approached hip-hop first as a musician and at the end of the day I am a musician who is still learning and evolving. I use hip-hop and blues based music as the art forms which I choose to develop and challenge my artistic development. One of the first tracks I have ever recorded was with a blues musician named Martin Lang. He was actually the first one who showed me how to use a multi track tape recorder to overdub music. We were both going through a rough time in our lives but shared our love of blues. Over a 3 month period we bonded and he helped me learn more blues and musically became a friend. The point of that story is to say that I carry on the tradition of the old blues and jazz musicians. I carry on an oral and listening tradition that was handed down and learned from those who mastered it before us. I am just one of the few blues men who chooses to do modern hip-hop because to be true to myself I have to do the music I love the most and that is hip-hop music and jazz.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What would you like to see changed in today’s music industry?

DRUNKEN MONK: I would like to see artist connecting more directly with the fans which is happening due to social media. I would like to see the strangle hold big labels have on who gets played on local radio and who most people choose to spend their time listening too loosen up some. I know the music has to be curated because there is just too much of it. The quality of some of it is questionable as far as how much heart, soul, and craftsmanship went into making it. Due to this, we are passing over a lot of quality artist. Hopefully technology and a different mindset on the value of art and music will allow us to open the door for more artists in the future.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects that you are currently working on?

DRUNKEN MONK: Right now I am just trying to find more venues around the United States and World to perform at and put together a tight stage show. I am also working with some new artist like Lucid from Wichita Kansas. I will have some singles with him coming out soon. I became aware of the Wichita rap scene after listening to an artist from there named XV. Also, after hearing Lucid I reached out and he was down to do a collaboration. I recently just put out a 5 song mixtape called Throw Singles which is a group of singles I did over the past 6 months. I produced a track recently called Duffle Bagz with Lil Wayne, Pac Millie, and Drum Lord on the vocals. The track has been doing well. As I write this I am working on a single with Young Thug on the hook. I have been doing projects with some of the more popular hip-hop artists on the tracks. These are artists that I listen too myself and enjoy and not really me just trying to get a co-sign. It’s music I would bump in my truck regardless of who produced it. If you could get the Miles Davis sound on your jazz record you would because of the sound of him on the horn. That is how I think about who I want to hear on my records. I go for the voice and feel just as much if not more than the words since I was trained as an instrumentalist first.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

DRUNKEN MONK: I really want to continue to grow my catalog of good music and perform it on stage for as long as I can. I want to continue experimenting with sounds. I want to get back to an acoustic based show one day. I want to have live band recordings be as much a part of what I do as the production is. I see myself continuing to grow as an artist and business man in the music industry. I see myself outlasting those who are not doing it and having fun with it. I can tell you that being on that stage and connecting with people is very fun and addictive for me. I see myself developing at some point a hybrid sound such as, that of the artist Ghost Poet or James Blake. The experimentation will eventually bring out my own unique personality even more than it already has and hopefully it will be something people want more of.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?

DRUNKEN MONK:

Twitter @DrunkenMOnk3

www.jgraymusic.com

Soundcloud   https://soundcloud.com/jimmygray

 

 

 

 

 

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