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cheyenne_h on 11/10/2016 at 05:48PM

FMA Q&A: Monkey Warhol

Image courtesy of Monkey Warhol

Here are the FMA, there are few ways to measure the popularity or success of a new artist - downloads, streams/listens, and, probably most importantly, distribution. By sharing songs under Creative Commons licenses that allow for reuse in video, many artists get to reach an audience that they would have never touched before. This has been the case with recent addition Monkey Warhol. His music has shown up in skateboarding vids, reverse cooking tutorials, video game play-throughs, drawing demonstrations, and even a creepy Dada-esque fan video!

You can lisen to Monkey Warhol's first FMA release, the Darwin LP, here - or watch the official music video for "Lovely Lady":



FMA: Where are you from?

MW: Minnesota.  The land of Bob Dylan, Prince, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum, Owl City, and Steven Greenberg (he's the guy behind the disco hit "Funkytown")!  Amazing place, isn't it?

FMA: Yeah, not bad! How long have you been interested in music?

MW: Forever (or at least as long as I can remember)...  As a young padawan my parents would prop me up against the family piano, and I would annoy them with my insistent pounding.  Now that I have a family of my own, I continue to annoy them with my insistent pounding; but since I'm the dad, they can't tell me to stop!  (Actually, they can…  I just don't have to listen.)  I guess some things never change.
FMA: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it?

MW: In general… electronic, poppy, hyper, energetic, and fun!  Of course in my mind, my music sounds like a super hip amalgamation of Andrew WK, Daft Punk, and the Flaming Lips.  However, in reality, it probably sounds closer to Moby moonlighting at a "Weird Al" Yankovic concert.

FMA: Where does your name, "Monkey Warhol," come from - and do you consider Andy Warhol to be an influence on your creative process?

MW: "Monkey" is what Mama and Papa Warhol called me when I was a little baboon pounding on the piano, and I guess it just kinda stuck!

However, digging a bit deeper and to geek out, I remember hearing about the "Infinite Monkey Theorem" which states that given enough time any monkey could type Shakespeare and Andy Warhol was quoted as saying "In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes."  So I guess that sums up my musical aspirations and "Internet Culture" in general... Mama Warhol knew best!

FMA: There are many layers to your songs. Where do you usually begin?

MW: The majority of my songs start with silence, and then I build them from there with a chord progression, hook, or pattern.  Through years and years of experience, I've learned that it's best to have an idea for the various parts of a song complete before I hit "record" or else I end up with a hard drive full of half-finished tracks.

As for the layers, I think it's largely due to being self-produced where on playback I'm constantly tweaking, refining, and adding a little "spice" to the mix in order to keep the energy up and keep myself interested.  Actually, it's funny that you mention the layers as I've been consciously trying to refine my production skills and scale back the layers thinking that sometimes less is more... I've actually gone from about 100 tracks a song to 50, so I'm gradually scaling back, but I realize it's still a bit excessive.

FMA: It sounds (and looks) like there are some kids involved in your music (judging from Lovely Lady, in particular). Would you consider your music to be "for kids"?

MW: While I don't set out to write music specifically for children, I'm not surprised that my "sound" combined with my willingness to follow through on stupid/silly ideas (i.e. the "Lovely Lady" video or playing live in a monkey mask) might catch the attention and enthusiasm of some kids.  That said, I still make music for myself, but am honored and flattered by anyone who is willing to take the time and give my music a listen! 

FMA: Do you ever perform your music live?

MW: So far I've done a few EDM DJ-style shows as Monkey Warhol, but at this point, I really haven't had the interest in putting a band together and performing the Monkey Warhol material live.  With my previous band, I did the whole indie band van tours, but as you get older the appeal of the "open road" and sleeping on stranger's floors starts to wear off.  Plus, I'm at the age where I'd probably have more in common with the kids' parents than the kids themselves…  and what kid wants to "rock out" with their dad?

FMA: Why did you choose to share your "Darwin LP" with a Creative Commons Attribution license?

MW: Why not?  For me, the biggest reward has always been actually making the music, and when I'm done with a song; I'm done.  It could either sit around on my hard drive collecting "virtual dust" or live in anonymity on a CD-R for a couple friends…  but now, thanks to the wonder of the internet, I figure I might as well put it out there for others to enjoy and annoy! 

FMA: What drew you to the Free Music Archive as a sharing platform?

MW: Between the blog entries, articles, and curated approach, Free Music Archive feels much more like a community than most of the other sharing platforms.  Thus far, I've been completely blown away by the response I've received from the users of Free Music Archive.  Just to show you a comparison, in the last 10 months my SoundCloud site has had approximately 1,300 listens and that even includes a few nice mentions and write-ups in notable music blogs.  Whereas, in less than three weeks on Free Music Archive I can already trace my music as being listened to over 100,000 times!  For a primate like myself, that's astounding!

Yes, I realize some people are quite precious about how and where their music ends up, and I can totally respect and understand their position.  However, I never expected to make money from my music (especially considering how much amazing music is already available).  At this point, I'm truly grateful for anyone who takes the time to listen to or can find some sort of practical use or utility in my music.

FMA: Where are some of the places your music has ended up thus far?

MW: It’s been all over the place…  some very cool, interesting, and random placements have included cooking videos, video games, skateboarding videos, bass fishing videos, construction videos, bottle flipping tricks, and several podcasts!

So far the biggest exposure my music has received has been from the Hannah Hoffman Drawing Tutorials.  However, I've observed that whenever my music has been used more as incidental/background music it doesn't exactly bring out people seeking out my music or "Monkey Warhol".  Regardless, I like to think it's at least leaving some sort of subconscious impression on them.  On the flip side, someone was kind enough to actually make his very own video for my track "It's Warhol Actually" and, as you might imagine, that does much more in terms of bringing attention specifically to my music.

FMA: Are you currently working on any other music projects?

MW: I'm always tinkering with something…  Right now I'm just finalizing the mixes for a long distance collaboration called “HIji” with a friend from California.  I do the music and he does he does the vocals.  I've also got 3 more Monkey Warhol EPs that I'm hoping to release throughout 2017…  each one is a different style and vibe.

FMA: Anything else you'd like to add?

MW: This is your one and only life…  make the most of it!  Also, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me and thanks to everyone at Free Music Archive for helping me get my music heard.  I sincerely appreciate each and everyone who's taken the time to listen to and share my music!

fma qa, monkey warhol


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