Introducing Mona Vale

House | Thursday 1st December 2016 | Christina

After featuring his new single 'Not Given Up', we get to know up-and-coming artist Mona Vale a little more. 

Hey Jamie how are you? Life treating you well?
I’m very well thanks!

Give us a bit of background – how did you first get into music? Was this always the career you wanted to pursue?
I first got into music when I was about 11 and started getting guitar lessons. From then on I’ve always been in bands and had music projects on the go. It wasn’t until I was about 17 when i sat down by myself and started to try write some songs and got into production a bit more seriously. Music has always been my absolute passion in life so I was just doing it for the love of it to start with, it wasn’t til about 2 and a half years ago that I started to really take my songwriting seriously.

You’ve released music under another name in the past, how does the Mona Vale project differ?
The other project started off with 2 of us, and that didn’t really work out so it ended up just me. I released a few tracks when it was only me on my own but then had a moment at the start of this year, and started finding a sound I was really loving and felt a bit different to my previous stuff. My Mona Vale project has definitely morphed out of my old project, an extension to it I suppose you could say. It’s a lot more like the music I'm inspired by, like Maribou State, Bonobo, and Four Tet, it’s more dancey compared to my other stuff. First and foremost I’m a songwriter so songwriting has always been the main focus for me. I’d like to think of this project as being dance music from a songwriter’s perspective.

What’s the story behind the name Mona Vale?
I went over to Australia for a bit about 4 years ago and went to a place called Mona Vale. It always stuck with me and I thought it was really cool and unique so when it came time to find a new name for this project it was a no brainer.

What’s the production process like for you? Do you always start with lyrics or does a beat or melody come first?
Melodies are what comes first for me, that seems to inspire me the most and I find they come fairly naturally to me. I usually come up with melodies from just me sitting at a piano or a guitar and playing some chords and singing random words to a melody. Then I normally try fit the chords and melody I'm digging with any beats or production ideas i have at the time. Lyrics come later on and are usually about anything that’s on my mind at the time.

Your new single ‘Not Given Up’ is about how an old relationship came to an end. What compelled you to write and release something so personal?
I think it would be slightly detrimental to my music if I wasn’t writing about personal things, I wouldn’t feel connected to it and the inspiration and motivation wouldn’t be there. I’m actually quite a private guy so there definitely is a point of realisation when I finish songs when I'm like “people are actually going to hear these” and get slight cold feet, but once I get over that it’s actually a really good feeling writing music and showing people. It’s a great outlet for me. To be honest it feels slightly odd having ‘Not Given Up’ released now. I wrote the lyrics to this track quite a long time ago and came back to them when I started thinking about this new project so they aren’t a very current feeling for me, but they really fitted the vibe of the track. I’m in a totally different mindset to when I wrote them a few years ago, but I suppose it’s pretty cool I’ve got them out there as it was an important topic for me at a certain point in my life.

You’re being tipped for big things in 2017 – do you find that exciting or is it added pressure?
No not really, I'm a pretty chilled out guy, which definitely helps. I sort of had that pressured feeling about a year or so ago when I was writing stuff that I didn’t feel quite comfortable making for myself, so now it feels like the shackles have been taken off and I’m feeling really inspired. I understand inspiration more now, I realise I’m not going to feel inspired every time I sit down and try and write music and I’m now fine with that. I used to get quite down when I spent 12 hours of banging my head against the wall and couldn't come up with anything. Now I just stop for a few hours, and come back to it later.

What one song or piece of music changed your life?
The album that inspired me the most was definitely City & Colour’s Bring Me Your Love. It came out in 2008 I think, and that album made me pick up a guitar and try write a song on my own. His melodies are just unreal, and his voice complements the melancholy melodies perfectly.

What track have you got on repeat at the moment?
I’ve been really into Tee Mango’s album lately, especially the track ‘Leave You’. I’ve also just discovered a group of guys called Portico Quartet, it’s kinda jazzy/electronic stuff and the percussion and synth sounds are just awesome.

If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what you choose and why?
I’d go for a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibe and fill it with Mars chocolate milk, that stuff’s dangerous man...

What are you most in love with right now?
I’m totally obsessed with golf at the moment... I mean like practising my putting in the living room at night obsessed. Not sure where it’s come from but it’s a great way to switch off from making music, and believe it or not, a brilliant hangover cure on a Sunday morning.

What’s the worst trouble you’ve ever been in?
Ahhh I’m too stealth to ever get caught to get into a lot of trouble!

Is there anything you’re still hoping to achieve before the end of 2016?
Would be great to get this new music out to more people and keep on getting talked about.

And what are you most looking forward to next year?
I’m just really looking forward to pushing on with Mona Vale, got more singles, remixes and potentially some tracks on compilation albums all set for early next year, so it’s all really exciting.

Follow Mona Vale on SoundCloud