INTERVIEW: Monki at 51st State Festival 2015

Monki playing the Hot Wuk tent at 51st State Festival 2015 (photo by Sayuri Standng)
Monki playing the Hot Wuk tent at 51st State Festival 2015 (photo by Sayuri Standng)

She’s established herself as one of Radio 1’s most acclaimed DJs, founded her own record label and has championed a host of new producers through her Monki & Friends brand. On top of all this, she still finds time to play sets throughout the world and is a prominent fixture on the festival circuit. Monki is only 23, now what have you done? Platform caught up with one the youngest trailblazers in electronic music at the inaugural 51st State Festival earlier this month to chat Ibiza, interning tips and the reasons behind her fierce enterprising spirit.

Hello! How have you been and how’s your summer been so far? What have been the highlights?

Summer has been great! Super busy and crazier than ever. I can’t believe it’s almost over. We put together the Monki and Friends EP at the beginning of summer this year and that was so much fun, I worked with a great bunch of people. We threw a roof top party the other week to celebrate it and it was pretty wild – blow up bananas, umbrellas getting thrown about and people getting taken out by beach balls. It was a real fun one, definitely a highlight. 20 Years of Radio 1 in Ibiza as well was really good, it was an absolute blessing to be a part of that history. I’ve still got an Australia tour and a few more festivals to come though, so there may be a few more highlights yet!

What’s your take on the Ibiza vs. Croatia (and vs. Blighty) debate? Or are there any emerging European festival locations we should know about?

Blighty wins hands down every time, biased but I can back it up. We have such a strong heritage of raving culture in this country and the best partygoers in the world, I think. Ibiza is its own special little island, it’s like no other place for clubbers really – a bit of a holy grail – so they have their own special reasons. Croatia is great but its very much still in its early years compared to the other two but I’ve had some cracking times out there for sure.

You’re possibly one of the most enterprising DJs we know, on top of performing and doing radio, you manage your own Zoo Music label whilst the Monki & Friends brand delivers continuous record releases and events. How are they all going and what sparked the desire to embark on all these ventures?

They’re going great, it’s been the most exciting year yet. I think the M&F crew and I delivered a really strong EP in the short time we had. Big-ups have to go to Red Bull as well for giving us the time. The night has moved to Room 2 in Fabric and is expanding, and so far so good. I can’t believe the night is only a year old! Zoo I think is really starting to find it’s feet as a label, we had a great release from Kalyde earlier in the year and you’ll see releases from Applebottom and Woz before the year is out. I think when you’re just a broadcaster you have to have more to hold your own (because I don’t produce), so these were all things that just build on my resumé; but first and foremost I really enjoy doing the label, the parties and the EPs.

You’re heading to Australia very soon to tour, is it your first time playing there? Will you have any downtime to see the sights?

Yeah it’s my first time in Oz, I’ve never been before so it’s exciting times. I’m interested to see how open minded their clubbers are when it comes to different genres of electronic music, because the line-up is quiet varied. I won’t have much downtime really, I think there’s two days and the rest is spent travelling – I’m not sure how much of the place I’ll get to take in but nevertheless, it should be fun!

You recently played the very first 51st State Festival to a very intimate crowd, what did you think of the event?

It was fun, it was definitely an older crowd and I could definitely spot some old school garage ravers in there but it meant I could pull for the classics, which was nice. There was a really nice vibe there, super chilled and… very clean I noticed! I had a banging lobster sandwich as well, haha.

You famously kickstarted your career by interning at Rinse FM, what advice do you have for anybody embarking on internships this summer?

Just go for it and have fun, they won’t be hard work because you should be enjoying them. When you’re an intern everything is so new and exciting so take every opportunity to soak up the knowledge around you. I learnt so much just by listening to what people had to say in the office.

Are there any up-and-coming names we should know about?

SG Lewis, Kalyde, Zak Abel, Billie Black. There’s a few!

Tell us a fun fact people might not know about you.

I have a pet house rabbit called Thierry and he is pretty cool.

And finally, what has been your summer anthem for you this year?

It has to be Melé – Ambience. I won’t be the last person to say that either, absolute banger!

Interview by Sayuri Standing