Monophonics has been slowly growing their special blend of psychedelic soul music since 2011. It comes from a like-minded group of musicians that pride themselves on creating something that stands on its own as unique and original.
Their new album, It’s Only Us released via Colemine Records on 24th April 2020, was recorded and produced by Kelly Finnigan at the bands own analogue studio Transistor Sound Studio, which hides in the hills of Marin County. Some songs were written and demoed at a 19th school house school house on a farm in Sonoma County weeks before recording while others were written and cut to tape on the same day.
It’s an organic process where the musicians are in the room together recording live to an 8 track reel to reel machine and the goal is to capture a timeless vibe. After the foundation is laid down, Finnigan takes the tapes and creates a layer of new textures and colours to compliment the compositions. Producing the record and bringing the vision to reality with vocals, horns, strings, harp, mellotron, synthesizers, vibes and bells.
Interview with Kelly Finnigan
Can you tell me abit about your upbringing, first memories and first music you can remember hearing?
-Well my father has been a professional musician since the 1960’s so I grew up all around music and musicians. There was always music on or happening, and it was something that was a big part of my upbringing. My first memory would be hearing my dad sit down to play and sing at the piano. It could be Little Milton, Mose Allison or Ray Charles. It would fill up the whole house. We also had a music room where my dads vinyl & turntable lived. It was a cool back room in the House.
Who were your first musical heroes?
Of course my dad is first. As I got older, I’d say Stevie Wonder, DJ Premier, Marvin Gaye, John & Paul, Brian Wilson & Jerry Wexler
When did you first start singing?
When I was 29 years old, so not even for 10 years.
When did you first start playing a musical instrument?
When I was a kid, I got into the drums for a bit but I didn’t follow through and work at it. When I turned 22, I got serious about teaching myself how to play the piano and I’ve been working at it ever since.
Who influenced you to start writing your own music?
I can’t say that any one person influenced me and or inspired me. I just kind of started cause I knew that’s what it would take to elevate my skill set.
Were you in any bands before The Monophonics?
Yes, I had a studio project called Destruments
How did The Monophonics form?
-Well most of the people that started in the band are no longer around. It was really a loose thing at first. College buddies jamming, working grooves into instrumental songs and playing locally around the Bay Area. In 2010 I joined the band and we took a new direction and starting writing songs and decided to go full steam ahead with it. Working with labels, touring internationally, collaborating with artists. It has blossomed into a beautiful thing and here we are with our 4th release in 8 years.
Who are your musical influences at the moment?
Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, George Kerr, Rick Hall, Richard Swift, Dale Warren, Gabe Roth, Bert Berns, Thom Bell & Willie Mitchell
Do all the band write the material or do you jam together which form songs?
The rhythm section writes most of the music together and I write all the lyrics & melodies as well as arranging all the background vocals. The Horn players add a lot with their arrangements and sound.
How did your recent album come to fruition?
Well we took a long break and it took a bit to get back into a rhythm of writing and recording. Once we settled in, we started envisioning what this next record would be, so we took our time and tried to craft it S best as possible. There are a lot of magic moments that happens naturally, but also some production magic added to enhance the listening experience.
How would you describe your live sound?
Soulful, energetic, fun, entertaining, psychedelic and emotional
What are you expectations for the 2020?
We have great expectations for this year and think folks are gonna really dig the new record and definitely enjoy the live shows. There some other exciting stuff thar we have planned later this year but mums the word.
Will you be visiting the UK at some point?
Yes, we will be visiting later this year during late summer/autumn and doing some club shows and festivals. We love playing in the UK so we are excited to get back there.
Finally, what’s on your turn table at the moment?
Lee Moses ‘Time & Place’ LP which is a must own for any music lover!
It’s Only Us can be pre-ordered via the following link