Ray Monsky is a totally immersive producer and singer. There are no words to accurately describe the levels and intricacies of his sound, it just has to be heard. We spoke to him for the release of his irresistible new single ‘I’m Too Confident’ through label Do Better. The massive electronica track, featuring Ray’s moody vocals, drops on Valentine’s Day, (14th Feb btw), along with Elliot Berger’s glassy down-tempo remix. He’s about to become a staple in the playlists of everyone – from random Joes to radios. We talk about producing a whole song in a car at night, trusting the wrong person and so much more.
The way you make music is very DIY, yet your sound is so crispy clean. Oh and I must ask, what’s this story of you producing a track in back of your mum’s car…?
“It was around 11 at night, I was the only person at home awake and had this brill bass melody come into my head. I instantly wrote the notes down onto my laptop, then a bunch of lyrical ideas started to form so I decided to leave the house and jump into my mum’s car. It was a freezing cold wintery night so I tried rushing myself into recording the vocals, but it eventually hit 1 AM and I had the basis of an entire track written down on my laptop. The next day, I sent it off to BBC Intro, and it was then featured on BBC Intro: The South a week later. It was pretty crazy as it was my first ever radio-worthy track, which has positively helped shape the way I structure most of my tracks nowadays.”
‘I’m Too Confident’ is crazy, it will so easily become massive. How long have you been making/playing music?
“Thanks man. I’ve been playing the drums, (badly), since the age of 4, keys since 7 and producing electronically since 14.”
Hear it here:
Is the track’s sound and structure something you’re going to maintain or will upcoming tracks vary drastically?
“You can definitely be expecting more of this song structure. I like to get quite experimental with my tracks more so than I used to but it’s finding the balance between overly experimental and totally bland that I’m working on at the moment. I actually started ‘I’m Too Confident’ well over a year ago, and since then I’ve been working on how to better structure my tracks so that each sound naturally comes into play.”
So where did ‘I’m Too Confident’ come from?
“Around a year ago I was suffering from an abnormally long creative block. I remember being sat in front of my computer from 10 AM in the morning ’til 10 PM at night, totally unable to even write a worthy melody down. I then accidentally elbowed my ashtray onto my midi keyboard and it bounced on three separate notes before it fell on the floor. I used said notes, turned them into a melody and that’s genuinely the entire three note chord progression that’s found in the intro and verses of ‘I’m Too Confident.’”
“People can interpret the lyrics as they wish and that’s what I admire most about music.”
What’s the meaning behind the track’s lyrics?
“It’s about trusting the wrong person with a deep secret, and then realising that you’d never tell anyone about someone else’s secrets. It’s not really personal to me right now but it’s happened in the past. I guess though a lot of people can interpret the lyrics as they wish and that’s what I admire most about music.”
‘Honey & Sour Love’ is a huge trap/future bass track. So sick. Would you describe Dorset as ‘the trap’?
“[Laughs] For real I honestly know no one who produces trap in Dorset.”
Hear it here:
What’s the electronic music scene like where you live?
“It seems to be pretty exciting in the more built up areas like Bournemouth but I can definitely say it’s pretty non-existent closer to home. I kinda like it like that though. I used to live in more built up areas but now I’m in the middle of nowhere so it gives me the space needed to work on my music.”
‘Future electronica’ as a genre is so new that it’s pretty free and undefined. Do you think you could become a pioneer its direction?
“That’s the thing I love about it future electronica; it’s still got this ‘new’ feel to it even though it’s been around for a while. There’s so many artists diving into it and making some really cool sounds. I do see myself sticking to this style of music so yeah I guess you could say I’ll have something to do with the direction it ends up going in.”
Is it mainly found on SoundCloud?
“To be fair most of the future electronica stuff I’m hearing nowadays has found its way onto the Beatport or UK charts. It’s crazy. When I first discovered the genre it was plastered all over YouTube promo channels like CloudKid or The Vibe Guide and at the time I wasn’t even into it. It was too clean and didn’t have enough feel to it, you know? Now there’s a load of different producers adding their own twist to it and it’s become a really interesting genre.”
Who do you look to for inspiration in your music then?
“Beer. No I’m kidding, nowadays it’s usually high quality samples and ‘80’s music that do the trick. When I was brought up my mum spoon-fed me music from artists/bands such as Moby, Pink Floyd, Simple Minds etc. I kinda like feeling a sense of nostalgia I guess. I’m also really into using effects in unique ways. For example the other day I had a chord progression and ran it through a 100% wet reverb plugin with Auto-Tune tuning the reverb. It sounded awful but it kinda just opens up your mind a little and helps you think outside the box.”
“I’m a big fan of having total creative control.”
Talk to me about collaborations…
“I’ve got a bunch of stuff coming out in the near future that features my sister Coley’s vocals. We’ve developed a really fast and unique way of working together, which I think is really important. I’ve also got a load of tracks halfway through production that I’d love to get some rappers on. In terms of working with other producers though, it never really works out. I’m a big fan of having total creative control. Once I create a melody or a drum beat that I like, I tend to shut off the outside world and focus solely on that one song. I’m also currently producing a few tracks for some really cool sounding unique female vocalists at the moment. It’s cool working on their own original music as it’s showed me how different genres work.”
Best live show?
“I did this crazy live show once at the Green Door Store in Brighton. It came about after I did my Live Lounge and from it this really cool upcoming band contacted me and wanted me to support them at their Brighton gig. I remember the journey there, we had a convoy of two cars full with most of my family and friends. We were around half an hour late and I’m pretty sure I forgot the power cable for my computer but luckily the sound engineer had a spare. It was the first official live show I did under my Ray Monsky project so it was a big deal to me at the time.”
How do you usually go about creating a song?
“I usually begin all my tracks around a chord progression. I’ve tried over and over starting a track with drums/percussion but doing that usually forces me to make chord progressions that I’m not really into. So yeah, a good chord progression, then I’d make a simple drum beat to get a sense of rhythm in the track, then I’d head straight for the microphone and sing whatever comes out first. I’d end up with what I call ‘draft vocals’ which just have a cool vocal melody to them. After that I head for the notebook and write down whatever lyrics match the vibe of the track. If I get to this stage and like what I’m making then everything after this stage just works.”
What’s next for Ray Monsky?
“I’ve got a bunch of new material that I can’t wait to release. It’s crazy because it’s been almost a year since I released my last track Body and since then I’ve worked on a load of new music. I’m also planning on doing a few more live shows this year but I can’t give away the details for those at the moment.”
Hear it here:
Interviewed by: James Wijesinghe