I’ve been waiting for the right moment this year to tell you about 23 year old Monty Brimley, or simply– Monty. His genre-defying sounds have blown up 2016 with pushes from Noisia, Plasma, and Critical artists, releases on Red Light Recordings, Flexout, and Cyberfunk. His fresh, deep takes on drum and bass have consistently yielded some of my favorite and most-played out tunes of the year.
I got the chance to sit down with France’s most promising producer last week and ask him a few questions about where the hell he even came from, and, more importantly, where he’s headed in 2017.
To me, your music is a very progressive take on modern drum and bass, with several half time elements, and blends of other genres all affecting each other. It’s a very interesting amalgamation of different sounds, that are portrayed in a very clean and almost minimalistic way. Where did the influences for this sort of sound come from?
I’ve always listened to a bit of everything in my life; dub, reggae, blues, jazz – because my dad was a musician before, he played in a jazz band – my brother, he plays the drums in a metal band. So I always grew up around that, really. And then when I was about 16-17 I got into electronic music, so I went and studied in England and that’s when I discovered drum and bass and all electronic music, really.
So I know you bill yourself as a French artist, but also spent some time in England, were you born in France, or did you move there?
Na, I was born in England. I left there when I was about 8 and came to France , and then went back to England when I was 16 to study, in Central England and then I came back to France when I was 18.
At least in America, France is largely known for the unique take on house music, what makes French drum and bass special in that same way? And how has growing up in the French dance music scene affected you as both a person and an artist?
When I first started getting into drum and bass in France, I was about 18. I went to this club called the Bikini– and they do everything, they put on all sorts of shows, not just drum and bass—to a party called DIRTY DANCIN that SKS organized. In the area, we have artists like The Clamps, Signs, Ak-hash, SKS, Red Eyes, Black Owls, so the drum and bass scene is actually very strong in France. And the community itself is very strong and connected as well.
You went to school for sound engineering, how has learning about all the fine, subtle points of audio production helped you grow as a musician?
Yeah, I went to school in England for Music Technology, we studied on this program called Sonar. Just to learn basics; how to make a drum pattern and explain different effects and such. So I guess that did help me a bit, but from then until I was 20 (I was 16 then), I didn’t really do any music at all, I just went to the parties.
How has your sound progressed? You’re at a very creative point right now, have you always been bending genres and experimenting with combinations of sounds, or did your past work lead you to where you are now? To expand on that, can you already sense any clues in your production style that hint at where you may be going, or do you try to just let creativity run its course?
It’s evolving a lot, I think, from what I first did. I don’t want my music to be the same all the time, I want to keep trying new things cause otherwise I get bored, and I try to keep it fresh. I do use a lot of vocals in my tracks, and hints from reggae music in my tracks, you’ll also hear a lot of dub effects and such. So there are certain elements that stay somewhat similar, while I still try and find ways to make new sounds.
Your music feels very out of the box for me—both in terms of arrangement and sound design—what are your favorite things to use in the studio to create that sound?
My tracks are pretty straight forward, to be honest. I just start with drums, then go and look for interesting samples online. And sometimes I’ll start messing around with sound design. I use Ableton for my DAW, and I use Operator for all of my basses. And I’ve actually been using a lot of old school hip hop sample packs. But it’s really about messing around with it, you know, a lot of layering kicks, layering snares, stuff like that.
Do you recall your first experience with drum and bass? Was it an instant love affair or did you work your way into the drum and bass scene from other areas of dance music?
I’d say it was when I first heard Chase & Status’ album, More Than a Lot, and specifically the track, ‘Hurt You’. And I first heard it when I went to V Festival in England, that’s the first time I heard drum and bass. It was really cool to me, it sounded like someone was really drumming, and it was really fast-paced and energetic, but the bass is what really blew me away.
2016 has been a breakthrough year for you. If you could cite one moment this year as a real stand out, what would it be? Did you ever have a really, “ah-ha!” moment where you realized that you were starting to go somewhere, or was it more of a subtle progression?
I guess when Kasra contacted me for the Binary EP, that was a big deal, that was definitely one of the highlights of the year. Halogenix from Ivy Lab asked me if I wanted to make a track with him, and of course meeting people lots of new people was big for me. Yeah, it was really just everything at once. I did the Flexout EP, and then everyone – Critical, Plasma, and Thys from Noisia contacted me – all at once. So yeah, everything kinda happened at the same time, it was a little overwhelming, honestly.
This clip of ‘A Flash of Luck’ is a perfect example of the massive, polished, rounded, elastic-band sounds of Monty–
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Thanks for joining me, and Happy Friday!