An Interview With The Detroit-Based Band, LIQUID MONK!
Posted On 07 Aug 2017
Meet the Detroit band Liquid Monk! They will release their self-titled debut album on September 22nd via Beverly Martel.
The video for their single, “On the Rocks” featuring Jaye Prime and Hugo Biggs, premiered on Glide Magazine who says, “The songs combines shades of tight acid jazz and funk over a modern hip hop flair that is poignantly cool. The grooves of Jamiroqui mixed with the bravado of Alicia Keys, gives Liquid Monk the lead in a much needed funk fusion acid jazz revival.” Listen/share “On The Rocks” here http://bit.ly/2tDe71W.
The new music follows their 2015 debut EP, Yaga, which served as the group’s introduction to Michigan’s jam and live electronic scene. The EP was a mix of jazz fusion, lush synthesizers and pounding live electronica, leading to performances alongside acts like Quantic, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, GOSH PITH and Aqueous at well known clubs and festivals in Michigan including Ann Arbor Summer Festival Top Of The Park, Dally In The Alley, Metro Times Blowout, The Loving Touch, Cliff Bell’s, The Loft and many more.
In 2016, Liquid Monk connected with talented vocalists and rappers in the Detroit music scene. With a diverse pool of lyricists, they realized a vision of merging their jazz and fusion roots with electronic music and the vocal power of pop, hip hop and R&B. The band acts as their own producer, showcasing the unique talents of each collaborator while also creating their own sonic landscape.
Liquid Monk is multi-instrumentalists Eric “Fil” Fillip (Drums, Percussion), Dan Gruszka (Guitar, Synth, Electronics), Michael Leonard (Guitar, Synth) and Omar Taji (Keyboards, Synth Bass).
Learn more about Liquid Monk in the following All Access interview:
Where does this interview find the band today? Our rehearsal space on a farm.
Is there music playing in the background? Aphex Twin.
What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions? Anything that grooves!
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? This year has been very busy. We signed with Beverly Martel / IAMSOUND, Played a few festivals so far this summer and look forward to releasing our record. 2016 was busy with gigs in first half of the year, but we focused on writing new material and tracking the record.
Did you all approach this year differently then you did 2016? We had to integrate lots of new technology for live performance of the new material. The first few months of the year was dedicated to finishing our record.
Growing up, did you both always want to be musicians? Most of us always had aspirations, we have all been playing our various instruments since we were kids.
Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? Probably shortly after our first rehearsal, 3 of the members formed Liquid Monk in 2013 and Dan joined in early 2014. We meshed immediately after our first practice session as a quartet.
Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create? The Monk comes from our long term dedication and study of music. Liquid comes from our ability to flow between various genres and influences.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how do you think Detroit has affected you? The city has a lot of resilience and that is something we all identify with. We have played with many different bands/projects over the years. It is easy to get burnt out, discouraged, etc. However, we stay focused and continue writing, performing, recording because of our passion for music.
Let’s talk about your self-titled debut album that you will be releasing in September via Beverly Martel. Did anything surprise you about the process of putting this collection together? We had been experimenting more with synthesis during this time and Mike made a transition from guitar to primarily keyboard / synth. This changed the soundscape and set the tone for more of an electro-soul / dance direction. Our initial concept was to create a live set that we could perform like a DJ but in the context of a live band. We had a bank of grooves, harmonic ideas and simple melodies that we began layering and tying into a 45 minute set that could be performed without stopping. However, as these ideas developed and we started collaborating with vocalists / rappers, they developed into full fledged compositions. Meeting Jaye and writing “On The Rocks” and “Hollywood” was definitely a turning point. It helped define the new album and direction for the band.
How does it compare to your 2015 debut EP, “Yaga”? On this upcoming self titled album, we realized a vision of merging our jazz and fusion roots (similar to what you heard on Yaga) with electronic music and the vocal power of pop, hip hop and R&B. The band acts as a producer showcasing the unique talents of each collaborator while also creating a unique sonic landscape.
What was the inspiration for your single, “On The Rocks”? How did it come together? Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? We were going through a transitional period after our first EP “Yaga, which was rooted more in fusion and jam. We wanted a sound that would encompass our previous work, but also have more appeal. We sent a few instrumental sketches over to Jaye Prime and before we even knew she was down to work with us, she sent back an almost finished copy of the song. We were all blown away when we heard it! The idea to include Hugo Biggs on the track was a happy accident, we were tracking vocals for his tune, “The Vibe” (also on this upcoming album), and asked him to freestyle a verse over “On The Rocks”. It set the tune off, so he penned some lyrics and we laid it down within an hour.
What are your plans for the rest of this summer? Do you have any tour dates lined up? We are releasing our next single, Nighttime (feat. Kameryn Ogden) in August and then the full album in September. We have a few video premieres coming up too. We are performing at UpNorth Festival near the end of August. Then we will be hitting the studio to start doing more writing.
Where do you guys think you are happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording new music or elsewhere? We enjoy being in the studio because we love the creative process, however, there is nothing like getting on stage and sharing those creations with an audience!
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band? We love working with unique vocalists, rappers and producers. Some names that popped into our heads: Childish Gambino, Nai Palm (Hiatus Kaiyote), Four Tet and Bruno Mars.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs? Overall, good vibes and grooves. However, it does vary with each song, that is the beauty of working with a number of personalities and collaborators. It represents all of the individuals feelings and experiences.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day? Record yourself. With all the technology out today it’s so easy to hear yourself back. The value in hearing musical concepts back from a listener perspective amplifies the development of that idea and refines playing abilities.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves or your music? Some of our members have side projects brewing. A few of us perform in a local jazz funk group called GFK Trio. Dan produces music under the name Daniel Monk. Omar has been working with a local band named Isaac Ryder. Eric is writing / recording music for a new duo called House of Spheres. And one of our main collaborators Kameryn Ogden will be releasing some debut solo music this year.