Things have moved quickly for Monki and at just 20 she has already achieved more than many talented prodcuers and DJs do in a lifetime. Working her way up London’s revered taste making station Rinse FM when the opportunity presented itself to play Monki grabbed it and quickly established herself as one the stations leading lights. From there on in the rise has been fairly meteoric with the residencies at Annie Mac Presents nights and BBC Radio 1 in addition to starting her own label Zoo music. So with a bright future ahead of her DT thought we’d catch up with the young starlet before she plays Sankey for Recentes alongside Karma Kid this Friday to see how it all panned out this way.
If I could take you back to the beginning and ask you what first drew you to electronic music?I guess if we’re going waaaay back, it would be my Mum. My mum is a big Prodigy & Chemical Brothers fan so I use to hear that round the house a lot. That was probably the first time I heard Electronic music, when I hear Chemical Brothers it always reminds me of my mum.What were/are your influences?Radio played and still does play a massive part in influencing me. For me when I was younger listening to radio and how fun that sounded was just as important as listening to the music. I think the main influence for me was I was listening and watching DJs have a good time for a living and supporting and playing music they love. And one day I just thought I’d give it a shot! Where was your first gig?My first official gig was for Annie Mac for her Annie Mac Presents night at KOKO, before that I’d just played for friends and at there parties. I was so so nervous before that gig, I don’t think I’ve been that nervous ever. My hand was shaking so much I couldn’t hit the cue button for the first 5minutes even though no one was even there yet! hahaJust why exactly are you called Monki?
It was a school nickname that just stuck. I know some people might find it a bit lame lol but my surname is Monkman and there were quite a few Lucy’s in my class so it became my nickname and when I started DJing I just stuck with it.
I first heard your name via the formerly pirate radio station and taste maker Rinse. Do you feel amore pressure now you’re associated with Radio 1? It’s a big label to have tagged and I’d imagine it can be a double edged sword as you instantly become a recognizable name but there are also people who’ll assume your going to play a certain type of electronic music purely by virtue of the association.Yeah I totally get what you mean, it was something I’d thought about but I actually feel like I can play more to my taste on Radio 1. Sometimes I would get a tune that I would of liked to play but wouldn’t of on Rinse because it may not appeal to the audience, at Radio 1 I feel like I can play the sort of stuff I did at Rinse and more, while still keeping it respectable. Radio 1’s audience is so vast, if I can get a certain listeners attention by playing one style then switch it up and there still enjoying the show, great!We’re finally starting to see a wider range of female talent at the top in electronic music from Ellen Allien to Maya Jane Coles and Nina Kraviz. Why do you think we’re seeing such an influx of female stars? Do you feel being a woman has affected your career in anyway? If so how?Yeah it’s great, there is a growing number of females to look up to. The more there are to look up to the more interested girls will get! The lads are really supportive in DJ world, you don’t get treated any different.
How important do you think the internet and social media is breaking new artists into the scene?
It’s so much easier to get into music now with the internet compared to 20 years ago. You would have to go out and try and physically meet the right people, now you can just send them a message on twitter or Soundcloud. That’s how I started, talking to other DJs on Myspace. It’s really important I think talent will be unearthed that may of gone unnoticed without the internet.
Where has been your favorite place to play? I love festivals, I just love the whole vibe. Everyone is in a good mood, the sun is shining, all your mates are there. Its a really fun time of the year! I still love KOKO even though I’ve played there quite a lot now, it’s such a unique venue and loads of different places you can view the rave from if you don’t want to be in it.Now you run your own label, how did the transition come about from artist to label boss? What new challenges did this present? And do you feel a greater responsibility now as a label boss that your imprint should represent your own philosophies and beliefs? Do you do the A+R for Zoo yourself?I remember thinking about starting one in 2011 but I don’t think I had the right knowledge at the time and I got scared by all the paper work! When set it up I asked a few people who already had labels for advice, like what distributer to use and by then I’d built up the right contacts to know some radio pluggers/ press and someone who could do artwork. After that it’s pretty easy! Yeah I do all the A+Ring myself, I guess that came naturally though while being sent new music for radio.How do you feel the rise of digital software which has help breed a new generation has affected electronic music?I just think it’s a lot more easier to access and a lot more people are getting involved and interested in it because it’s affordable now. You don’t have to rent a big studio to make a tune anymore, you can do it sitting on your laptop in bed if you wanted to. It’s not a bad thing it’s great, there’s a lot more music to trawl through!
What do you do to relax?
I’m a very outdoors person, I was always outdoors as a kid. So I like going for walks and I play 5-aside once a week. Apart from that I’ll be watching Games of Thrones on my sofa or visiting family. Have you any interesting/bizarre stories to tell from your time playing/working at Rinse?One there was this mouse that took over the studio. I heard a massive scream from Scratcha when he use to do the breakfast show and I ran in thinking something terrible had happened and there he was on a chair. While a mouse ran around his feet. That mouse was very bold he would literally run across the mixer while you were DJing or just come up from behind a deck, I think he wanted a show.What would you change about electronic music scene if you could?People being pretentious, just stop trying to look cool and have a good time, that’s what you paid to get for isn’t it. It’s not often but you get the odd one, enjoy yourself!If you could play a gig literally anywhere and with anyone, where would you want to play and who with?oh wow big question.. hmmm. I’d love to throw a massive festival style rave but in a castle or something. Would be fun! I’d just have all my friends play! And maybe get Prodigy down haha and Duran Duran just so I could sing along.Do you have any projects outside of music you could tell us about?Yeah I’ve got this project with Red Bull coming up. ”Red Bull Studios London Presents Monki & Friends” It’s a collaborative EP with other producer/artists, I’ve got two weeks in the studio and I’m gonna make tunes with a bunch of people and then at the end of it, give it out for free. I’ve got people like S-Type, Karma Kid, Melé, Salva, Toddla T, Friend Within, My Nu Leng + all the guys from my label and few more people as well that I’m going to announce soon. Should be fun!Who else’s music are you enjoying at the moment?Melé has a new EP coming out on Digital Soundboy which is sounding really good, really club heavy stuff. The new Joker EP is great. Disclosure’s album is due really soon! Duke Dumont is killing it and Skreams disco bits are great too, ah so much!Are there any other rising stars you’d recommend?Baxta this guy from London, he’s super talented and the next release on my label. I’m really excited about! More news soon!What does the future hold for Monki? Well apart from the collaborative EP with Red Bull, I’m going to be starting my own Monki & Friends night this year. So make sure you keep an eye out for them!
Catch Monki live at Sankeys Friday the 12th of April at Recentes. For more information and tickets click here