An Interview with Monki

Selector, label runner, broadcaster: Radio1 DJ Monki has more feathers to her cap than most 21 year olds. She managed to squeeze a cheeky interview with Get Darker into her hectic schedule. This is how it went down…

Hey Monki. How you doing?

Hello! I’m very well thank you.

What’s on your schedule this week? Besides this cheeky GetDarker interview of course…

Meetings, radio, up to Liverpool for a gig and to walk the dog… The usual!

And what’s on your stereo right now as you’re reading these questions?

Zulu just sent me some stuff he wanted me to give a listen, he was my first release alongside TOYC on my label Zoo Music. And just giving the next EP’s mixdowns from the label a listen, really excited about it.

Your CV is a textbook lesson to those who dream of a career in the industry. It all began with work experience on a pirate station, Radio Jackie. We never knew pirates offered such a forward-thinking service! How did that all come about? And was your school happy with you doing a placement with a pirate station?

Well Radio Jackie was a pirate station in the 60s and later became legit, which is why I think they had a good relationship with Rinse, who they got in contact for me. I actually quit school to pursue radio, I didn’t tell my mum for a bit, I hadn’t shown my interest in radio before and I was studying Law and Economics at the time. Which by the way, I was terrible at haha!

It seems the pirates played a huge role in shaping your music tastes. They’re nowhere near as ubiquitous these days… Do you miss them? And can the internet work just as well for people growing up, hungry for new, exciting music?

Yeah it definitely did, when I went to Rinse and my first FWD/Rinse raves I was opened up to this whole world that I had only heard through a radio before and it really opened my eyes. The great thing was I got to meet the people behind it as well and listen to their words and be around them. I grew up a lot in my time there, it was a great place to be as a young aspiring broadcaster/DJ, every day I learned something new. People can access the music even more easily now on the internet, it’s a different generation of people who look towards soundcloud and things like that for new music. I think I may have been one of the last waves to come through pirates, it’s definitely not as common at my age. And although it’s not the same, with internet radio there’s not much need to climb a tower block.

From pirates to one of the biggest radio stations on the planet… How has your In New DJs We Trust series gone on Radio1?

It’s been an amazing and surreal experience. The studios are amazing; my producer and BA are so great to work with, they really get it. The feedback has been great and thanks to everyone that has tuned in, I’ve really enjoyed it. I really like that slot I’m going to miss it but I’m looking forward to the B-Traits cover.

Were Rinse cool with you working on both stations?

Yeah it was cool, also Jackmaster was on both stations as part of Numbers. Rinse is a bubbling pot of talent, people have gone to the BBC from there before. I left the station on good terms so all good.

What’s been your scariest live on-air moment you’ve ever experienced?

My first INDJs show was live, because I’d been doing live radio for a while they wanted me to do it live, which I was happy to do. So there’s like this big read clock that counts down to the second to when your show starts and then you play your jingle and you’re go! So it hit 9pm, Jingle Played, Music came in and I said,”Out to Vane Lowe for the last two hours”…On my first ever link I called Zane Lowe Vane Lowe. I haven’t even met the guy, it was a head-in-my-hands moment but I got through it!

And what’s been your most satisfying live on-air moment?

I think when I went into Radio 1 to announce INDJS with Annie Mac when she was covering Fearne Cotton. That was really cool, I got to announce it with someone that’s supported me from the beginning and to think I was sitting in on her show four years ago as an eager 17 year old was really surreal, yeah it was a very proud day. (Also a very nervous one!)

Let’s talk about Zoo Music… Cool to call it a musical menagerie?

Haha maybe I should of called it that!

Like your DJ sets and radio playlists, Zoo Music releases are nicely eclectic and unpredictable – what are the key elements you look for when you’ve got your A&R head on?

Music that excites me and producers that have got a good head on them. I think it’s important to have a good relationship with the people on my label and if they work hard on the release I will do everything I can for it. I talk and see the guys on my label quite a bit, TOYC & Zulu have even met my Nan. Haha… Family vibes!

Which labels’ business model inspires you the most?

I’m not too sure really, I don’t model it around any particular label. You know Numbers/Night Slugs/ Bromance/ LuckyMe are all amazing labels. If Zoo turns out to be as successful that would be nice. XL is an amazing label, we all know that.

We best big up all forthcoming releases… Tell us everything.

Baxta is the next release, I think he is super underrated and everyone I’ve played his stuff to has loved it. He’s been in the background for a while, had release on A-Trak’s label Fools Gold. Very talented guy, I’m really looking forward to releasing his EP. He’s got a very distinct sound.

And what’s coming up for DJ-wise?

DJ wise for me I’m excited about this summer, lots of festivals some of which I’m not sure I’m aloud to mention yet but Creamfields, Lovebox, Love Saves The Day, Wakestock.. I can’t even think off the top of my head!

Selector, label runner, broadcaster… Can we expect to add producer to that list of accomplishments any time soon?

Haha The question! Lots of people ask me this 🙂 Yes, but not as a solo project for now. In April I’m teaming up with Red Bull Studios to make a collaborative EP which we’ll be giving out for free. So I’ll be getting in the studio with other producers to make tracks, hopefully they’ll be around 6-7 original tunes. I’ll be telling all soon along with which producers I’m working with, It’s going to be fun!

That’s us done. Have we left anything out? If so, now’s your final chance to include it. GO:

I think you pretty much covered it!

Say hello: catch Monki on Twitter

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