Always challenging himself to innovate and move beyond his musical stratosphere, Monolink is an articulate, active and ever-evolving artist bending the musical limits one project at a time. Monolink’s holistic approach towards songwriting accompanied by a vast history of technical training, makes him a well seasoned storyteller and composer. He’s a super concise and conscious creator, being diligent of all musical elements aligning in order to put forth a resonant message. He’s back with his most explorative album yet, and ready to divulge into its makings. Read on as Monolink chats with SPIN about Under Darkening Skies, the most challenging song to create, songwriting secrets, and more. Be sure to stream his new album here.
Who is Monolink and how did you come to life?
I actually started my musical career as a singer-songwriter and only later added electronic productions to my songs. When I moved to Berlin around ten years ago and discovered part of the underground scene here, I was amazed by the experience of sound and community, which was completely new to me. The Folk music that I played and loved was all about storytelling and not so much about sound, at least for me. My idea was then to bring those two worlds together. Actually it was less of an idea and more of just a natural drive to try it out.
Tell us about your sound – where does your style originate from and what have been your biggest visual, social, and sonic influences?
The Beatles certainly were a big influence when I was young listening to music. Pete Doherty and The Libertines was an early inspiration when I started to make music, I felt inspired by his songwriting skills a lot. Then I went through all the classics like Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Rolling Stones. Out of the electronic world Nicolas Jaar was certainly my most eye opening discovery, and maybe still is. I felt like that was the future of music and he still remains a big influence. But also German artists inspired me a lot like Acid Pauli, David August, Stimming, Extrawelt, too many to list all of them.
What does your typical songwriting/production process look like? Is there a set formula or does it consistently evolve and shape-shift along with your ideas?
With the new album it was definitely about getting back into song writing. I guess I am always going to be a guitarist and it is an instrument I love and which features heavily on the new album. But Under Darkening Skies also meant new instruments, breaking out of life just on the guitar and buying a piano, “to really sit down and write about stuff that’s happening in my life or in the world.” I’ve spent the past year in the studio and been having a really productive time trying out new things. I produce using Ableton and work closely with a mixer and arranger. I worked a lot on the piano and old synths this time, tried out new tempos and structures.
Was there a definitive turning point in your career? When did you realize the magnitude of your impact within the industry/community?
Actually there were many moments where I felt I reached some kind of turning point, or was just surprised by how fast things were growing all of a sudden. The first one was my opening set at Fusion Festival 2015 where I think I reached a lot of new people after just having started ‘Monolink’ and we all shared this really special moment. Another one was the release of my debut album ‘Amniotic’ and then later my set at Burning Man 2018. All of those are really precious memories.
You have a very special release that’s out today. Talk to us about Under Darkening Skies – Where did the creative conception take place and what sets this apart from your previous work?
Yes indeed ! My second – or ‘sophomore’ if you’re American! – album. It is called ‘Under Darkening Skies’ and has x12 tracks. I think it is definitely a follow up album to Amniotic in the sense that the listener can go from the first track on Amniotic to the last track on Under Darkening Skies and know that it is Monolink. But the sound is evolving. Production wise and sonic influences. More about contrast this time – composing and creating new sounds that play off each other, playing with the “louder and quieter, and harder and softer.
Which track challenged you the most in recording but gave you the most creative growth/accomplishment?
I’d say “Falling” was the one track that pushed me into new spheres, it was very different from the other tracks I’d made and seemed like a new path for me to follow. The whole song came very intuitively, without any plan where to go with it sound wise, I just let the music take the lead. That was a great experience.
This project seems to be the most reflective piece of work you’ve done, accumulating all these different parts of your identity, putting them under a microscope, to then create a sonic macrocosm of your identity. In totality, it seems like it was a very liberating process – Where were you before making this project and where are you now, after releasing the album?
Under Darkening Skies is very much an album created in lockdown. A benefit of not being able to tour was that I was able to really immerse myself in the writing & recording process. For the new album I applied what I learned and experienced in recent years, while opening up to showing more facets of myself, my songs and my productions. I may never get this time again of being completely free from the compunction to go out on the road and play live – maybe history will record this as my ( sorry Jack Kerouac ! ) Off The Road album? However …….there are certainly facets of the touring life that can impact on the writing and recording process and in a way I’m looking forward to those inspiring me for the next one. Simple things like the audience reaction to a new song. I missed that and I want it back.
In what ways do you wish to inspire up and coming artists/producers that are aiming to get their creative work out into the world?
I would say try to make the music that touches you the most.
As we’re looking ahead, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, how are you planning to propel your career forward in 2021?
Simple – I can’t wait to tour the new music ! I don’t know yet how much will be achievable given the pandemic still rumbling on , but we are looking to tour extensively in Europe and North America this year
Is there anything on the horizon that you can share with us?
Take a chance now and manifest something: ______________.
Peace is the path
Any last words for the SPIN-verse?
For every darkening sky , there is the hope of a silver lining beyond ……..
Check out Monolink’s exclusive live session below. For more SPIN Sessions, head over to SPIN TV.