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bronwynbishop on 07/12/2013 at 08:30PM

Eclectic Composer Monk Turner's New Album of Instrumental Songs Inspired by His Friends

Demented Dustin and Monk Turner

Monk Turner is a Los Angeles-based composer and musician best known for the concept albums he’s been putting out for over ten years. These include Kaleidoscope (2012), an album about color that Monk produced in collaboration with over 40 artists from all over the world, and Calendar (2007), which features a song for every month of the year. He also won a little contest we held trying to overtrow the most popular song in the world.

For his latest release, Instrumental Friends Part 3 (2013), Monk wrote and performed twelve instrumental pieces about twelve of his friends. We caught up with Monk to chat about the album and his inspiration for the project. 

Fill in the blank: ____ Monk

Musical Monk

Are the people in the track titles (eg. Demented Dustin and Kind Katie) inspired by real friends of yours? 

They are friends of mine who took the time to fill out a questionnaire about themselves. They were asked to choose their adjective and musical selections. Other information biographical obtained from the questionnaires has been listed on my blog. On every post is a YouTube playlist for each Instrumental Friend that includes the tunes that their song is based on.

How does being a musician affect the friends and relationships in your life?

I have a joke amongst my friends that if you know me long enough, you’ll end up on a concept album. Many of those close to me have ended up on my albums including my parents! Also, many of my friends are gifted musicians and I see this as a fun way to showcase their talents.

If this is Instrumental Friends Part 3, where are Parts 1 and 2?

There are quite a few older tracks and albums that are not on the internet because I don’t feel they are up to par. For the album announcement I created this video that includes a snippet of each song on the previous volumes.

What made you decide to revisit this concept over a decade later?

My music has evolved over the last ten years from being comical and silly 4 track recordings into polished radio-friendly pop music. When created back in 2002, Instrumental Friends Parts 1 and 2 was just me doing all the music. My previous album, Kaleidoscope(2012) featured over 40 artists from all over the world. If that album was my “Sgt. Pepper”, I wanted my next album to be my “Let it Be”.

How do you feel when you listen to your older work, such as the earlier Instrumental Friends albums? How has your sound changed over the years?

My older music feels sloppy, out of tune, and at times downright embarrassing. When I started doing concept albums I’d be lucky to get ten people to listen to my homemade CDs. Over the years my listening audience has grown so much that I’m much more of a perfectionist now. I tried to let some of that go with Instrumental Friends Part 3.

Why did you decide to record this album without any collaborators?

Making an album with over 40 artists from all over the globe was an amazing experience. One that I’m not sure I want to repeat anytime soon. It was time to return to my roots and record true solo album. I also recently upgraded my recording set up and wanted to learn how to use my new toys before collaborating with anyone.

How did you select the prominent instruments for each track, for example the prominent kazoo in Kool Kwesi and the shaker in Kind Katie?

It was mostly based on the what the songs the Instrumental Friends felt best represented them. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting videos on my YouTube channel that have interviews with each Instrumental Friend. I give background on the creation of each track and we get the reaction of each friend hearing their song for the first time.

Were any of your friends hurt that they weren't included in your project?

I think some folks were bummed out about it. I didn’t expect to get such a large response to the project. I received over 40 completed questionnaires and had planned to write only 12 songs. I’ve written a blog post about the selection process here.



Jared C. Balogh on 07/12/13 at 05:50PM
Samreen M on 07/19/13 at 05:04AM
Great! What a genius and prolific musician he is! Sometimes comes with the collaborative work of 40 artists and sometimes solely makes an album. “Kaleidoscope” has already amused the listeners a lot and now he is here with another creation. With the twelve instrumental pieces about twelve of his friends, he is again here to attract the fans. Good job!

Samreen M
Kidkraft Kitchen on 10/17/14 at 10:14AM
Thanks Mom Turner for his balld.
I love it.
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