Monolink describes growing into his musical self and the inspiration behind ‘Amniotic’ [Q&A]
In recent years, a new type of artist has been developing in Germany, one as unique as he is talented. This artist is called Monolink, and his music is a blend of his own voice, his guitar, and craftily arranged, satisfying electronica. His music has been so well received, in fact, that some are pointing to him as one of the most innovative new artists on the scene. After several years developing his project and building out his repertoire, he released his highly anticipated debut album, Amniotic, on the boutique German imprint, Embassy One Records. We caught up with Monolink to see about getting a better understanding of who he is, and from where his music comes.
Amniotic is an interesting title for your debut album. Tell us about what that word means to you in this context, and why you chose it.
The title came to me when I was writing the lyrics for the opening track, which is also called “Amniotic.” Amniotic fluid is the liquid that an unborn baby lives in, and for the first months of our lives, it is the only reality we know, where we only float in our subconscious. The song is about being born, or maybe the moments right before, and I felt like it suited the whole idea of the album very well, since it’s my first full body of work.
You have such a unique sound. Who are some of your musical inspirations?
I always felt very much inspired by Nicolas Jaar and his approach to electronic music. For a long time, it was mostly based on sampling and editing old songs with new sound elements. To me, that sounded like the future, and a dystopian one, due to the quality of the old samples. When I heard Darkside’s (one of his side projects) first EP, it was unlike anything I had listened to before, and I knew this was something I’d want to do as well.
I was also always really interested in stories and lyrics. During the time I was playing as a singer-songwriter, my main inspirations were Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and all those old masters of words. So the whole idea for this project was to bring those two worlds together.
Tell us about how you got started making this form of live electronic music, coupled with your voice and your guitar. What lead you to start this project?
I guess moving to Berlin in 2009 had a strong impact on me. I was really inspired by the music scene here. The first years, I was playing in bars and on the streets, and I was all about folk music. I was then drawn into the world of electronic music, the clubs, and the whole community around it. It was completely new to me, and unlike anything I had known before—a different way of listening to music. There were still stories being told, not with words, but with energy and repetition. You would listen with your body, and not so much your mind. That fascinated me, so I soon started producing electronic music, taking material from the songs I had written before. I also realized I could play my songs live instead of just sampling them. I still wanted to play concerts and create a live music experience, but I also wanted to add a new layer of sound, letting people feel it and dance to it.
We know you’ve been out touring around the world for quite some time already. What’s one of your best stories from life on the road?
I once got to play for the queen of Thailand! After I finished school, I was traveling in Southeast Asia for some months, and I joined a Thai band in a little town close to Bangkok. We played cover shows in clubs and bars, until one New Year’s Eve, when we were booked to play the queen’s party, at her summer residency. It was a huge, beautiful place, all surrounded by a national park. When the queen arrived, the band had to stop the music, and we all got on our knees to pay respect. The queen, for some reason, was dressed up in a cowboy costume and walked right up to me (I was the only foreigner there). She asked me where I was from, and when I said, “Germany,” she laughed and replied to me in German, telling me that she studied in Switzerland. She then, for the rest of the night, made all her announcements in German, with me being the only one in the room who could understand her. It made me smile. This was long before I started Monolink, but still a story I like to remember.
After releasing a full-length album like Amniotic, what comes next for you?
I’m working on a full concert show with a band at the moment, which is really exciting for me. As much as I love playing at techno events, playing shows in concert venues will open up so many new possibilities: working with lights and visuals, creating a full body experience. We’re going to start touring in fall, and after that I want to start working on my second album.
We’ll close with a fun one. If you could have one artist remix a track from the album, which artist and which song would you choose? Why?
I would love to have David August remix. I can really relate to the music he makes; I feel like we have a very similar view on sound aesthetics. Which song is a difficult one, though. Maybe the opener, “Amniotic?” I don’t always like the way my vocals sound on record, but in that track, I love the way the harmonies work together. I think he would like it, too.
Feature Image Credit: Hailley Howard