The 203rd episode of our 12 Questions segment features production duo Monofade.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
Las: I’m Las, 26, I currently live in the UK where I met Tom. We became mates and together we formed Monofade in 2013. We had both been DJs in our native Hungary and had produced music in the past. Soon we’ll both be based in Hungary and producing music locally.
Tom: My name is Tom, I’m 32. I’d moved back home to Hungary from the UK a few months ago. I’ve been DJ-ing and producing music for roughly the past 14 years. Currently my friend and co-producer Las and I comprise Monofade.
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
Las: For me at least – and I think for most of our like-minded peers, – our love of electronic music probably developed at an early age. I remember getting my first cassette tape at around age seven, it was Scooter. When I was about eleven though, a Nick Warren mixtape completely altered my musical tastes and from there on there was no stopping. I became so obsessed with the progressive house of the time that I realised that that was what I had to do with my life
Tom: My father was an avid lover of music, mostly a big fan of classic rock and I guess I grew up with that sort of stuff. Then one of my childhood friends put me on to a radio show that was popular at the time, it was all new, electronic music – this was in the early ‘90s, around 1991 I think. I was immediately hooked: I fell in love with all the early house I heard. The next milestone for me was Sasha, his San Francisco album. It was so completely new and different from anything else I’d heard, it defied definition. I was 15 at the time and I knew I had to follow his (Sasha’s) example.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
Las: I tried a number of different music authoring tools, but Ableton Live seemed the most straight-forward and professional. I made a massive amount of really bad “music” in the beginning. I think I would laugh if I were to listen to in now, with experienced ears. Later on, I met Zoltán Hedrick (Snake Sedrick, aka Son-Tec) and I picked up a couple of tricks from him. Then of course there’s Tomi, we learnt a lot from each other and still do. We both think that on this scene, constantly learning and evolving our technique and sound is paramount.
Tom: It was really difficult in the beginning: I’d never attended music school, didn’t know anything about computers. The first piece of music production software I’d ever used was Propellerhead’s Reason, running on a friend’s computer. I was fascinated by its complexity and its level of detail: it took me a full two months before I could squeeze a single sound out of it. Later, I’d buy books on the topic and worked out the mechanics on my own. This was a very slow but undeniably very exciting period for me. No one I knew or knew of nearby was interested in producing music, so it was a steep learning curve on my own.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
Las: Like most people, we try to write most of the track and then build on it and tinker with it. Needless to say, the process of refining a track constantly evolves the track during the course of polishing it. Having said that, we had written tracks from the ground up without any ideas whatsoever. The most important thing is that we know which direction we want to take our music in.
Tom: For me, the most difficult part in the process of producing music is the technical task of overlapping and splicing together of ideas, when we’re pasting tracks together and trying to achieve a unified piece of music from the many separate parts we’d been working on. Ideas we have plenty of, so this often means a huge amount of work and frustration! I love creating melodies and soundscapes, I find a lot of joy in sound design. When I get stuck, I often draw inspiration from nature, I will go for a walk and suddenly I’ve thought of a solution.
5. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
Las: I am working at the moment in a job outside the music industry, but that’ll change as soon as I move back to Hungary – I’d prefer music to be a full time occupation for me. It’s difficult to work around something as time consuming and intensive as producing music, it’s a challenge to try to fit it into a normal day. It’s a pity that there are only 24 hours in a day.
Tom: Right now, Monofade is my life. I haven’t been able to spend my time exclusively on producing music for a very long time, but now I finally have a chance to do what I really enjoy. When I’m not working on a track, I read music and technical production magazines, I listen to tracks by other producers and DJ mixes.
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effort on your own productions?
Las: Usually I only listen to electronic music, it’s my life. If pressed to name an artist or style outside this genre, I’d have to mention Depeche Mode and movie soundtracks.
Tom: Outside electronic? I like acoustic music the most. I love the sound of piano and guitar. I couldn’t name a specific artist, I listen to a lot of less well-known but extremely talented musos.
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
Las: I’d already mentioned my first tape, but the last physical format I’d bought was a Defected mix CD, not that long ago.
Tom: The first single I’d bought on CD was Superstar by Novy vs Eniac. I have it to this day. For me, this is a classic house tune. The last one I’d bought was a few years back now, Sasha’s Involv3r 3 album. It’s an essential part of my collection.
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Las: I’ve not yet seen Mad Max: Fury Road. 😀
Tom: In kindergarten, my sigil was a house. I guess that’s fitting now!
9. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
Las: I think this is where we could engage in a deeper debate on the topic of commercially successful EDM versus underground producers, if you know what I mean.
Tom: There are some producers who create something good but they sign a contract for small labels or just they can’t sell themselves so the djs can’t find their songs.
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
Las: I was stoked to see that when we first released our work on the scene, Forteba almost immediately remixed one of our tracks: I’d always held their work in high regard. As well as Forteba, we quite like the production duo Framewerk, we’ve had two of our tracks picked up by their label. I’ll also make note of the current big names: Dixon, Tale of Us, Alexx Niggemann, Karmon, Sasha and an old favourite, Terry Lee Brown Jr. The music these guys produce is a major catalyst in my creative process. I could go on, but there are tons of artists who inspire me and whose work I like apart from these. Apart from other artists and music, practically anything can serve as inspiration for me. For example if it’s nice out and the sun is shining, it makes me feel like writing music.
Tom: I’m mainly inspired by those artists who are consistently producing fresh material. It’s all too easy to copy, to mimic and emulate, because it’s less work and risk and it’s tempting to be lazy and safe. This is why those artists represent something real to me, they are always striving for a new and unique sound. Sasha, Henry Saiz and Ame are just a few examples of those who spur me on.
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
Las: You should try lots of different styles, even mix them up, don’t worry about obeying the rules and restricting yourself to a specific sound. It takes time to find yourself in context of producing music, to find your genuine, unique self in this sense.
Tom: You have to listen to as much of the music you like as you can. That’s when you develop an ear for it and this really helps in developing your sound and producing the kind of music you really want to. You should also experiment with instruments, try lots of different things with the same sound. It might take you a whole day to mix a good, juicy bass sound, but it’s going to be your own unique work. Most importantly, spend the time on producing your music that it deserves and needs, don’t rush it. It takes time to develop a really solid and unique sound.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Las: Eric Volta feat. Gretz – Blood Burgundy (My Eyes Are Open)
Tom: Sasha – Expander.
segment collected by Benjaminas Bagdonas