Hailing from Leipzig, elusive DJ and producer M.ono has left few cyber traces behind him. Such minimal editorial on the man is in surprising contrast to the impact his music has made on dancefloors over the years. The anthem architect responsible for ‘Holding Back California’, he’s also a long-time friend and collaborator with Luvless, who he runs Rose Records with alongside Martin Hayes. Adding to, or perhaps kickstarting, his deserved internet coverage, we chatted to the man himself off the back of his recent Heist release to get a glimpse into M.ono’s musings. We’re also chuffed to share an exclusive mix of buoyant (and often hynoptic) deep house.
M.ono – Volle Schnauze EP is out now on Heist Recordings. Grab the mix tracklist at the bottom.
Let’s start with a question about beginnings…what’s your perfect set opener?
Good question, it think it is dependent on what you want to do – podcast or a club set. For podcasts I like tracks with an intro, but I don´t have a favourite track for opening a set. Mostly I decide spontaneous what I’m playing at the beginning.
Going back a little further back still…what are some of your earliest musical memories?
Ohh I guess it is music from the 70s & 80s. My dad listened to lots of music and recorded it sometimes from a western German radio station. I grew up in Eastern Germany so we didn’t have access to the huge music universe like the people from Western Germany. I really like this kind of music today as well, and sometimes I play some tracks of this era.
Did you have a strong musical upbringing? What inspired you to make the jump from just consuming music to making your own?
No i didn´t have any musical upbringing, i never played a instrument or learning notes. As a teenager i was fascinated by house and techno music, music made by machines or by a PC. You only need a PC and software and you’re able to produce music, no instruments – this is great. Some friends of mine had a PC but they only played games on it. I was really happy when i was allowed to install Rebirth-338 and played with the that for a hour. Later i got my own PC and then started to make own tracks.
We’re loving the new ‘Volle Schnauze’ EP on Heist Recordings. Can you tell us a little about how it came together and what you were looking to achieve with the release?
Its funny because Maarten & Lars (Detroit Swindle) contacted us (Rose Records) first. They found our label and want to play a few tracks of us. I was very flattered – woow Detroit Swindle want to play tracks of ours. So we got in contact and i sent the guys some records. A while later I sent Maarten & Lars a couple of my own tunes. It was the first time ever I sent tunes to a label without an enquiry. Heist Recordings was my first choices because I really love the sound and I was playing their previous releases as well. So the guys gave me feedback and offered to release a four-track EP. That’s it! It’s great to be on board and it’s really nice working with the Heist team.
Your ‘Easydance’ EP is like goldust now. Do you feel limiting a release like this preserves the magic of hearing it played out?
Difficult question. Maybe, but there are a lot of unlimited releases out there and they have this magic too. It is hard to say. I think it is a tune thing. in this case, the success of ‘Holding Back California’ attributed to a the EP’s success, especially when you find 50% of the release on digital stores like iTunes or Juno download.
‘Holding Back California’ has become such a euphoric anthem, guaranteed to create some special moments on the dance floor. Did you feel you’d created something special at the time?
Noo, not at all. I had good times at the studio to make this track and I really like this song but I never imagined that it would go down so well. It’s a smooth, deep roller, the people love it, the people play it, I’ve done everything right.
It’s a slow-burner with an enormously satisfying but subtle climax, are there any other tracks that you love that fit that description?
Oh yes. I think for these three tracks fit that description:
Toby Tobias – ‘One Night On Mare Street (Deep Space Orchestra Remix)‘
Move D – ‘Untitled A1‘
Andrade – ‘Optimistic‘
‘Holding Back California’ got huge support from big names, Move D in particular. Are there any tracks you’re championing at the moment?
There a a lot at the moment: The Deep Love 15 compilation on Dirt Crew, Homework, Soul of Hex, Laurence Guy & Harry Wolfman. The Laurence Guy EP on Church, the first release of Vicario is very dope. The Brame & Hamo and Fouk EPs on Heist. The last EP from Ponty Mython and Sebastian Vorhaus is also great. I really love the Junction EP on Rose Records, the Mooney Me track on Uncanny Valley, A1 Bassline on Food Music or the Rough Recordings stuff. There are so many good things out at moment, I shall not list them all!
You’re from Leipzig, which is being hailed by outsiders as a younger sibling to Berlin. Having been there ourselves, we know it’s got its own charm and character separate from the capital, so what does your hometown mean to you and how’s underground music culture looking at the moment for the city?
Leipzig is a great city. It’s my home, my family and friends live here. There is a little more than 500.000 people in Leipzig. It’s not big so you can get to every spot in the city within 20 minutes on your bike. We have a lot of parks and lakes here, it’s a really nice city to live.
We also have a nice house and techno scene with some great parties and labels like O*rs, KANN, A Friend in Need, Doumen or Holger Records, to name just a few. Everyone knows everyone, it’s like a big family. And of course we have a few very nice clubs here like Distillery, Conne Island and IFZ. But you find some smaller locations in the city too. Every weekend you can go out for house and techno parties.
Rose Records has been an regular home for you over the years. How important has it been for you to release a lot of your own music and that of your close friends?
Very important. The primary reason we founded Rose Records was to release only our own music, but gradually we are opening the doors for new thing. Demo tracks have to be liked by all members of the label so sometimes it’s quite difficult to find the right way to a new EP, especially by an external artist. The good thing is, if we feel like releasing a M.ono & Luvless or a Martin Hayes EP we can do it. We don’t check the release schedule and have to wait for two or three other EPs. That’s great.
What does 2016 hold in store for Rose Records?
At the moment we have a idea for two new releases, I shall say no more. You will hear about is soon!
You’ve very kindly put a mix together for us, could you tell us a bit about how it was recorded and any influence behind it?
The mix was recorded in my living room on 2x CDJ350s and a Ecler Nou 2 mixer. I used some new tunes that i really like at the moment and some older favourites.
Finally, how’s the remainder of 2015 looking for you and what have you got planned in the new year?
2015 was really relaxed as I released less than in 2014, only two EPs and one track with Lootbeg. In the new year there will be a couple of remixes on Heist, Afin, Trax Underground and wewillalwaysbealovesong. At the moment I working on new tracks and remixes with my buddy Luvless. We want to start producing more together and of course playing more gigs together.