DJ, radio host, record label founder—London-based Monki is building a strong reputation as a leader in the electronic music scene. Her keen eye for sonic quality is reflected through her floor-filling live sets and the innovative projects coming out of her label Zoo Music. We swung a quick introduction with the young tastemaker before she embarks on her first Australian tour as part of Nina Las Vegas’s international ensemble.
For those who might not be familiar, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Monki, I’m a DJ and broadcaster from South London. I’ve got a show on BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra every week. I also run a label called Zoo Music, as well as a touring club night called Monki and Friends. I’m also pretty good at FIFA and have a pet rabbit called Thierry.
You’ve become such an authority on music at such a young age, where did this appreciation of music come from?
I’d say it started off from my mum and uncle. My mum listened to a lot of Chemical Brothers, 808 State, The Prodigy and her brother was a little younger and through him I heard hip-hop and garage mixtapes. I think through listening to music like that at a young age it encouraged me to listen to other types of music.
Do you remember the first record you bought?
Yeah I bought it in a record shop in Soho when I was about 15, it was Eric B & Rakim’s Eric B Is President and it cost about 50p.
How are you feeling about coming out to Australia for Nina Las Vegas’s show?
I’m excited, I really don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been there before, let alone stepped in a club or played out. So I’m intrigued to see what the ravers there are into and how open-minded they are. It will be interesting.
What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to the most about Australia?
A tour is always fun innit, so just living tour life for 10 days will be an adventure—especially in a country I’ve never been too. So just the whole experience, playing tunes to a crowd I’m brand new to is going to be fun.
Can you give us a little hint as to what we might see and hear during your set?
It all depends on how you guys react! I can be pretty versatile although I understand at the same time my sounds can sound very UK-orientated (obviously). High energy, for sure.
Do you ever experience any challenges navigating the ‘boys’ club’ that seems to describe the DJ world?
Nah, never. Being a woman DJ is not an issue to me. I think it only is when people make a thing of it. I’ve never experienced any negativity—play your cards right and the lads will just respect you for being a DJ, not a woman that’s a DJ.
What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to the Julio Bashmore album a lot, it’s great to see him obviously really enjoying making an album on his own label. It’s a wicked album, definitely one of my favourites of the year. The Internet album as well is wicked, best R&B album I’ve heard in a long time.
Who are your ‘artists to watch’ at the moment?
SG Lewis I think is going to do well, he’s just signed to PMR. Makes really beautiful music. Zak Abel is a young vocalist from London, he has an amazing voice and writes as well. He recently did an EP made by Joker and it really worked. They both did a track for me recently on my M&F EP, was a pleasure having them in the studio both really talented and lovely people.
What can we expect from ZOO Music roster in the near future?
The next release is from Applebottom, proper big room banger. Then after that Woz will be doing a two-tracker. We were literally putting his tracks through compressors today so I’m looking forward to hearing the masters.
You can catch Monki performing live as part of the NLV presents International Edition, which kicks off in Melbourne this Friday August 21.