What part of the world are you currently based in, and what’s the music scene like there?
I’m based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve always looked at the music scene here with mixed emotions. On one hand there is lots of amazing producers, DJs, musicians, promoters. The city has top international talent jetting in and out every weekend. So if you’re into music, there’s always something cool to check out!
On the other hand we’ve always been restricted by outdated licensing legislation. Alcohol can only be served to 1am, and most venues close at 1am or 3am at the latest! It’s tough on promoters and DJs to programme everything into such a short space of time. But we all have to adhere to the same rules and it’s always been like this. Such a shame when other clubs in Europe can stay open all night.
For those not already familiar with your sound, how would you describe your music style, as I understand you have a couple of aliases?
I’ve never been one to conform to a set style. I’ve always loved House, Techno and Disco. So I feel comfortable making and playing all styles. This has probably held me back at times. I think if I’d maybe just stuck with one set style I could have achieved more, but I just get bored easily and get inspired by different styles. I started releasing music about 12 years ago under the alias Scope. I released a mix of Deep House & Tech House on label’s like NRK, Large and Urbantorque. I had a lot of success with this project as the deep / tech / house sound was really blowing up and I was fortunate to play all over the world.
A few years later I started making Disco re-edits, and what could be described as Nu Disco and Deep Discoy Housey under the alias South West Seven. Together with my production partner Sean Grieve we released records on Kolour Ltd, Shabby Doll and On The Prowl. Around 2012 I started releasing music as Montel. All my first releases as montel were on the old skool House tip and all released on vinyl. A few years later I felt that sound was being totally over used so I started moving towards a chunkier clubby sound.
This is definitely when I started getting more recognition for the Montel stuff. People like John Digweed, Hot Since 82, Richy Ahmed and Anja Schneider we’re playing lots of my stuff in their sets and loads more people started following me. Some of my productions started more towards a real Techno sound and was maybe confusing to some people who just expected me to make House. Rather than starting a new alias I just started releasing my Techno stuff under the abbreviated Montel alias as MNTL. Recently I’ve been concentrating all my efforts to developing my own Techno brands / labels, Miles From Mars and Misfit Music!
You just mentioned a couple of labels that you recently set up, could you tell me about those projects, and what makes them different from each other?
Misfit Music was set up in August 2017 with my partner in the label Steve Boyd. He runs the Misfit club night which I was a resident at, so we decided to start the label together to showcase the sound of the night. The label tends to focus on that big room techno sound. I didn’t want to saturate the label with loads of my own music so I wanted to create another label to release my own output on.
I also wanted the sound of the label to be Techno and club focused, but deeper and moodier. The first 2 releases were by me and they got quite a bit of attention as Adam Beyer and Joseph Capriati we’re playing them a lot. I guess because of this I started getting sent demos by really cool new producers. Both labels give me the platform now to release my own sounds and also from producers I really like!
You mentioned Misfit Music also links to an event you are involved with. Could you tell us about the parties and what kind of artists you invite to play?
Misfit started around 2013. Steve Boyd, my partner in the label is co-owner of the venue that Misfit is held at every Friday. I’ve been a resident since 2014 and was assisting in the bookings. Over the years I’ve booked Rich Ahmed, B.Traits, Tiger Stripes, Wehbba, Argy, Bart Skils, Reset Robot, Riva Starr, Santè, Catz ‘N Dogz, Steve Bug, Funk D’Void, Boxia, Ramiro Lopez, Audiojack, Waff, Spektre, Pleasurekraft, Citizenn, Andres Campo, Raxon, Loco & Jam, Cera Alba and loads more..
I understand your next release is due out on your own label Miles From Mars, and it also features a remix by Andre Crom. Could you tell us a bit about the EP, and what inspired its sound?
I’m pushing my Techno sound on with every track. Bad Blood is definitely the hardest ‘techno’ track I’ve made so far. I fancied making something really pacey and aggressive sounding. Then on the flip I wanted to balance it out with something more atmospheric, but still keeping the bpm’s pumping! I also love Andres sound and what he pushes with his OFF label, so really glad he wanted to be part of the release.
Tell us a little about your writing process when it comes to making music, and are there any bits of equipment essential to your style?
I’ve a very busy schedule, balancing family life (I’ve 2 children), with music. Years ago I used to be able to sit in the studio all day, now my time’s limited but I try to be more productive. I generally work on ideas using my MacBook whenever I’ve got some spare time. I try to get at least a few solid track sketches together, then try and do a day in the studio, finishing them off.
Years ago when I had more time, money (and space in my house), I was really into synths, mixers, drum machines. When I moved house and kids came along I sold most of my kit and actually preferred working more on a smaller set up (Mac running logic, soundcard, monitors, midi keyboard and a load of vst’s and samples). I love sampling… pulling sounds out of my record collection, manipulating them, and trying to create something different.
Not only have you released many solo tracks, but you have also collaborated with some of electronic music best known names such as Huxley, Kevin Saunderson and Todd Terry. How did you make contact with those guys, and do you have any forthcoming collaborative releases?
Most of my collaborations have come around unintentionally. I’ve known Huxley for years! We were just chatting online one night exchanging tunes, and we got an idea to work on some stuff together. The collaborations with Kevin and Todd came about from personal edits I made of their tracks. They blew up after some big Dj friends were playing them, and then I got some labels looking to sign them. I wanted to make everything official and above board, so the guys were contacted and we collectively worked on them some more, and then gave them a proper release.
Outside of music what are your other interests, and do they influence what you do as a DJ or producer?
As I mentioned before, family life is really important to me. I spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. It’s a busy life style and anyone with kids will know what I mean. Besides that I love travelling. It’s ironic, as being a DJ I travel a lot, but you’re flying in and out of cities and you literally just see hotels and airports. I want to go and see cities and places where I’m not being held to a schedule and I can do things at my own leisure, and more importantly go to the places I want to go to. I also love food… cooking at home and eating in nice restaurants, in Belfast or when I’m travelling to.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve got 2 big MNTL techno releases dropping over Spring and Summer. The one on Miles From Mars (with a remix by Andre Crom) and the other on Misfit Music (with a remix by Matrixxman). Then some House tracks for my newly launched Bass Hit Dub label. You can certainly expect the labels to grow as brands, and then onto the international scene as events. I’m putting all my effort into developing them and pushing forward. I’m also working on a few secret projects at the moment under new aliases focused on different sounds. Then I’ve plenty of UK & Ireland shows plus some European dates too.
MNTL’s new EP on Miles From Mars: https://www.beatport.com/release/miles-from-mars-09/2549000