Monty The Fly: “Electronic music excites me more now than ever”
British producer Sam Smith (aka Monty the Fly), is the sort of guy who makes considered and abstract house and techno; the type of music that conjures up a range of contrasting emotions. In this essence, it’s hardly a surprise that he name checks the likes of Baby Ford (who, incidentally, remixed his first EP) as influences, but if we were to define it, we’d say it’s been cut from a similar cloth to the work of Bruno Pronsato, Herbert, Efdemin and Ricardo Villalobos, producers who make music to move the soul – and the soles. With his latest EP, the stunning Free Three Ways, having just dropped on his own Nothing Odd label, we decided to grab a hold of the Bournemouth native for a quick chat…
What was the last record you bought? And why?
I brought the second Othertones release – Anthony Difrancesco’s Latency EP – the other day which I really love and the last album I brought was Live Ballroom Ritual by Goat which I bought off the back of listening to their album World Music which blew me away.
Do you still get to go record shopping then? What do you play off these days?
Yeah I still buy records when I can but where I live there’s only really one record shop so most of the records I buy are online. I play off vinyl, I had a brief period a few years back where I tried out Traktor Scratch but it didn’t really click with me.
So do you have many choice bits in your collection? What do you make of the whole vinyl revival?
Yeah there’s a few bits and pieces in there. Probably my most prized record is my copy of Robert Ashley’s ‘Automatic Writing’. I bought it a few years back and I’ve only ever listened to it once because when I did, it had such a profound and strange effect on me that now I’m worried if I listen to it again it will kill the mystery that I’ve attached to it.
I’m really happy about the vinyl revival. There’s something about listening to a record that feels pure and it totally connects you with the music so it doesn’t surprise me that people keep coming back to vinyl.
You’re from the UK, right? Whereabouts? What was it like as a place to grow up?
Yeah that’s right, I’m from Bournemouth, on the south coast. It’s a pretty good place to grow up I suppose, it can be quiet at times but I love being near the beach.
Daniel Avery country. So where did you earn your clubbing stripes?
I’d have to say London and more specifically, Fabric. When I was a student living up there I’d find myself in Fabric quite a bit and now when I go there it always feels like coming home.
Do you still go out clubbing? Does electronic music still excite you like it did in those early days?
Not so much at the minute but I do find myself at the occasional party every now and then. I actually think electronic music excites me more now than it ever has, there’s always fresh sounds and new ideas coming through. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much because it’s always looking forward and pushing new boundaries.
So when were you first introduced to electronic music?
I was introduced to electronic music through my older brother. As a kid I used to borrow all his CDs so back then I was just into whatever he was, Nirvana mainly, Hip Hop, UK Garage, Trance. It was always the electronic stuff that connected with me the most though and I ended up delving in to that stuff and following my own path to where I am today.
The first time I went clubbing was at a rave in a field near where I lived, I don’t remember too much but it’s probably best kept that way!
How would you describe your sound? How do you approach a day in the studio?
I always really struggle when people ask me what my sound is. The truth is, I’m not actually sure. Actually I think the whole idea of having a sound bothers me because it feels too definite. I like the idea of it being left open so I don’t feel pressure to make music to fit into a certain bracket.
A day in the studio for me will usually start with listening to music. I’ll probably have a listen to a few records that I’m feeling at the time and that usually gives me the inspiration to start messing around with sounds. I kind of look at production from two angles, from an artistic side and a technical side. When I’m creating I like to free my mindset to be able to freely create without any outside pressures but then when I’m producing I come at things with a technical, organized point of view. I find that being able to find a balance between those two mindsets helps me to find balance in my music.
So what inspired your latest EP then? How did it come to pass?
The EP kind of just evolved from a few different ideas that I was playing around with. I ended up with the base for three tracks that had a similar feel but were built around differing mechanics and I thought it’d be nice to bring them together with an EP. The tracks took a little longer to come together than I had hoped but I got there in the end.
The name of your label, Nothing Odd, and the artwork both strike us as sort of gloomy. Is that part of your thinking? Are you conscious of the fact that new labels need to stick out from the pack in a way?
No, I don’t really look at it like that to be honest. It’s much more important to me to create a label that truly reflects my musical tastes than to try and make something that stands out from the pack. It should end up being individual that way anyway because it’ll be a little chunk of me.
I guess that’s where the gloominess comes from because I’ve always felt connected with the darker side of art and music and I suppose the label is just a reflection of that.
So did you produce the EP with your own label in mind? Or had you initially intended to send it elsewhere?
Yeah as soon as the idea for the EP came about I had always had it in mind to release it on my label.
And who’s given you the most encouragement in terms of setting up the label?
I’ve actually been a bit of a lone ranger with it all really, not so much through choice but it’s just how it’s turned out. Music and music making has always been a very personal path for me and I’ve kind of just guided myself through it the best I could.
So are you fully self-taught then? Or how did you learn how to make music?
Well I did study music technology for five years and I’ve had piano lessons for a while but I guess I’ve worked out how to put it all together by myself. I’ve learnt a lot just from listening and analyzing my favourite music, there’s always new ideas and inspiration to be found just by listening.
What influenced this EP then? I noticed you’d released Baby Ford on the imprint before, is he someone you’ve really looked up to over the years?
Yeah, massively. What I love about Baby Ford is that way that he really focuses his ideas with a complete self-confidence. My favourite tracks of his are like 10 minute tracks that hardly change at all, it’s just one idea that is carried through with the very minimum of variation. It really allows you to delve in to the heart of the music without distraction. I would love to have that level of confidence with my music.
And at what stage in your life did you realise you wanted to produce your own music? Was there one moment or person who really inspired you?
What got me into DJing was when as a kid my parents brought me a set of decks and a load of records off of one of my brother’s friends for my birthday. It was the best thing ever at the time and I just spent hours and hours playing around with all these records, discovering a load of new music. I would say that was the point when I realized I felt a strong connection with music. It wasn’t long after that when I started wanting to make my own music.
What more can we look forward to from you over the next while?
Who knows? I’m always working on something so we’ll see…
Monty the Fly’s Free Three Ways EP is out now on Nothing Odd Records. Check out his exclusive mix for Data Transmission below.