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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.


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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.


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ange on 12/03/2012 at 10:00AM

Color: The Ultimate Concept Album Concept

Monk Turner is a proud defender of the concept album, and has shared many of these projects here, including Songs About Emergencies and Songs About Location. Turner's concept album #23 (!) called Kaleidoscope brings together over 40 artists from all over to explore the many shades of color with a new creative depth, united by his special brand of his Costello-inspired catchy pop.

Of course the color concept album isn't a new concept. I mean, who didn't exhaustively play their college radio station's only copy of Ken Nordine's Colors until the other DJs complained? In that album, Nordine uses Word Jazz to explore Chartreuse's bad case of wanderlust, Maroon's rhyme-ability, and Purple's royal pomp. It was listening to this album that I first discovered what makes concept albums so great. At their best, they use a creative focus to sonically reveal secret hues and tones of the physical world. 
 
Turner's Kaleidoscope has that very effect. Listen close and you'll learn that Magenta is a princess that needs saving, Green is the color of free, White is humble yet illuminating, and Blue is, as always, all about feeling.
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idiotprogrammer on 06/07/2011 at 02:00PM

Interview with Monk Turner: Galactic Defender of the Concept Album

Alanna Lin & Monk Turner, Collaborators for the Emergency Songs album

(See also  Robert Nagle's article profiling  Monk Turner, Monk Turner's  official website and Monk Turner's musical blog. All of his albums mentioned here are  free for downloading and available on FMA) His Emergency Songs album was reviewed on FMA in March, 2011.

How has your biography or geography affected the kind of music you make? What do you think is unique or different about your music?

When I started playing guitar, I learned mostly classic and alternative rock with deep roots in the blues. Then when I did the band thing, my focus became surf, hardcore punk and Latin music. Towards the end of my ‘band’ career I was playing gospel and country music. I had grown up playing in bars since the tender age of 15 and was getting burned out on it. I loved the art of songwriting but I was done playing music for drunk people and making money for alcohol companies. It was at this time I started focusing my efforts on writing and recording.

Geography has also definitely played a huge role in my music. I’ve been doing solo music under my name for 10 years as of 2011. For about 4 of those years I lived in Texas where, as you probably know, the weather sucks and there isn’t much to do. During this time I had the most creative output but a lot of those songs are pretty rough around the edges. Living in LA where the weather is almost always beautiful and there is an abundance of distractions, my output has slowed down quite a bit. I’m lucky to get one album released a year. The flip side is that  quality of my music has improved dramatically because of the incredible pool of talented musicians in Los Angeles. Living here is an inspiration unto itself.

As for the music itself, what makes it different is that I’m not restricted by genre, distribution, band members, or money. There aren’t a whole lot of people doing concept albums these days either.

What other musician or musicians have inspired you?

Elvis Costello is a huge influence and is by far my favorite recording artist. Not only do I love his voice and his music, but also I also love his artistic integrity. He’s never compromised and always made the music he wanted to make without worrying about a label liking it. That is such a rarity and thanks to that philosophy he’s got such a deep range of music.

That said, I’ve always considered myself more of a fan of music than a music creator. I just love good music regardless of the genre. I’m constantly inspired by music that is completely opposite from what I do. I’m also inspired by the musicians who play on the albums. The majority of the time when I sit down to write a song, I have a specific person in mind who I think would sound great on it. Duke Ellington did the same thing when he was writing his horn parts.

Can you name someone who is NOT a musician who has provided inspiration for your creativity?

I can think of something that is not music related that constantly inspires me. That would be advertising and the creative process. I studied creative advertising at University of Texas which gave me a strong foundation in conceptualizing. Think of a campaign like the famous ‘Got Milk.’ That is a huge idea that has been executed a ton of different ways but maintains its strong central idea. I also feel the role of the copywriter and art director in advertising is similar to the role of a lyricist and composer. I draw a lot from the ideas of effective mass communication when approaching a concept album.

Click below to read more of this insanely long interview!!!!!!!!!

 


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