Interview by Jamison Harvey
Name, Location, What You Do.
Andrew Mason, aka DJ Monk-One. Brooklyn, NY. Musical multi-tasker: Producer, Label Owner, Writer
Tell us how you got into music and how you started the NYCT label.
Music got into me! At a young age, my parents gave me a little record player and my own set of follow-along fairy tales and cartoons on 7-inch. Peter and the Wolf introduced me to the instruments of the orchestra. When I was in high school and college I played in a bunch of bands and began DJing sometime around then too, simply because I was that music-obsessed guy and had the records.
Names You Can Trust (NYCT) was originally started in the mid-2000s by two friends as an avenue to put out mixtapes. They asked me to contribute a few mixes which sold well and eventually financed legitimate releases of our own original music. I joined as an official part of the label around then. The label is now run by myself and Eric Banta, and I'm proud to say we're closing in on 100 releases, from artists all over the world.
What's your relationship with coffee? Where's your go-to spot and how do you prepare it?
I start most days with a strong cup. My workhorse is Café Bustelo, but I enjoy a freshly ground brew of sustainably-farmed beans wherever I can get it.
Do you see any similarities between coffee and being an artist, and do you think it plays a role when being creative?
Coffee definitely kickstarts the mental juices!
What have you been up to during the pandemic besides music?
It's been a whole lot of music, between running the label and putting my own side project of homemade beats. But I've also been doing a lot of cooking, stretching out with some new recipes and techniques. And playing baseball with my son in Prospect Park.
What music are you listening to currently?
STR4TA is a new thing out of London that harkens back to the classic UK jazz-funk sound of the early '80s. It's fantastic. I had the 1966 George Benson soul jazz sizzler Benson Cookbook on this morning. That and a good cup of dark roast will get the blood flowing for sure! And since my son has been getting into Chopin, we've been listening to a lot of sonatas, preludes and etudes, which is a great change of pace for me.
Tell us about your upcoming projects for NYCT.
Our latest release is called New York Is For Lovers, by a group called The Far East. It's a killer album in the Lover's Rock style, which is a groovy sound that sits somewhere between reggae and disco. It'll be officially released on all digital platforms in January but you can get a sneak preview over on our Bandcamp page right now. It's great! Right now Eric and I are taking the holiday break to get back in the studio to work on some new tunes that will probably become an eventual release from Greenwood Rhythm Coalition, our collaboration project.
Looking forward to having a cup of joe in person with Rabble & Lion! In the meantime, take a listen to my series of beat tapes up at https://monk-one.bandcamp.