I shared a Lotus Biscoff and a cuppa with brothers from London, Mon Tsunami, aka Joey and Spike. This is what they had to say…
Joey and Spike thanks for agreeing to talk to us, how are you?
Very good thanks, we’re enjoying the cooler climate of Portugal and a change of pace from Morocco!
Congratulations on the release of Inertia, how does it feel?
Thank you, it feels great to be putting our own work into the world again! We’ve spent a long time experimenting with mixes and working on little studio tidbits and ideas, but we’re now in the mindset of finalising things and getting them out there, which feels great. We find putting that pressure on can often be the breath of fresh air we need to get things moving.
It has quite a unique story behind it, having been recorded in the Sahara desert — how did that come about?
We initially travelled to Tagounite, an oasis on the outskirts of the Sahara, to work with fantastic native band Daraa Tribes, and didn’t necessarily plan a release while we were there. However, when we met and spoke with the band they told us about the sad history of the town and we were so moved that we decided to stay longer and learn more about the devastating aftermath.
We were in the process of finishing Inertia at the time, and it came up that the friends we were staying with had, like most inhabitants of Tagounite, been deeply affected by this history. They were kind enough to take us to a nearby Kasbah to show us the ruins and this day trip became the Inertia video. The shoot came together very quickly and before we knew it we were leaning out the back of a rickety motorbike trailer darting across the vast plains of South Morocco shooting these spirited friends on the open road.
What was it like shooting that video in the abandoned Kasbah?
Honestly, it was utterly heartbreaking and it still gives us goosebumps thinking back. These places, which just fifty years ago were fully functional, thriving villages are now largely abandoned and crumbling into non-existence. We felt honoured to be invited there to film and given the blessing to include it in the music video. What we love about the footage is how the relentlessly positive spirit of the locals comes across on camera, even in the face of this adversity and touching on such a complex and traumatic experience so close to them.
It has quite a history, what was the one thing you learned while being there?
The bones of Inertia were made in London and the title alludes to the feeling of stagnation we felt whilst living in the city, the same feeling that urged us to get on the road and explore the world with our music. It was a huge awakening to learn of the more inhibiting inertia that most people in this oasis are subject to, having great difficulty finding work within Morocco, let alone even being able to leave the country. This was a huge learning experience and certainly put our own inertia into perspective.
You’re brothers from London, how did Mon Tsunami come to be?
We’ve been making music together since we were kids and, after a brief hiatus following our previous outfit, our discovery of Amapiano and Afro-House reignited our spirit and we found ourselves drawn back to our roots of rhythm and bass. We fell so deeply in love with this music that naturally we were quickly behind decks and computers mixing, producing and exploring the sound. Our move from London seemed like the perfect way to launch this project and now here we are, finding refinement and refreshment in every new chapter.
What did you listen to growing up?
Wow, where to start… we’ve been told that in our early years our Dad was quick to throw Wheels On The Bus out of the car window and introduce us to a whole array of music he deemed more educational, from Peter Tosh and Mahavishnu Orchestra to Daft Punk and Zero 7. We’d spend days rummaging through his disorderly but extensive CD collection and learnt a great deal through his taste. We also had a VHS of the music videos of The Police’s Greatest Hits and we remember spending Saturday mornings glued to the TV with that on loop – perhaps it was this that inspired our urge to travel to these kinds of exotic locations to shoot our videos.
You’re also DJs that travel from country to country, it seems that you pick locations kind of off the beaten track – what’s been your favourite place to play?
Yeah the Monolog locations seem to be getting wilder by the week – #004 involved trekking up Mount Benselman in Morocco in time to shoot for sunset. Once we were in position and the camera was rolling it was a case of not looking behind us and just getting the mix done, in the blissful ignorance of not knowing exactly how high the sheer drop behind us was. We’d say this was our favourite although Episode #001 outside the tobacco shop was also great fun, and we garnered a small crowd of local kids who seemed to enjoy what we were playing.
Tell us a funny story from the road.
OK let’s think… I suppose one predicament we got ourselves into is worth a mention – late August whilst we were in Portugal we wanted some isolation to edit the Drift video and work on our Peggy Gou remix, so we went to live on an off-grid farm 2000ft up in the Gardunha Mountains in hope of a peaceful and undisturbed retreat. The first few days went swimmingly, however nearby forest fires meant the growing potentiality of evacuation, and perhaps because of this unrest the horses on the small holding had a habit of escaping. We’d receive phone calls most mornings from witnesses in nearby towns, or neighbours who’d woken up to their entire gardens having been eaten, informing us of their escape. This meant taking the headphones off, putting the boots on and jumping in the farm truck for a chaotic wild goose chase to ensue across fields and valleys far and wide in the sweltering 40°C heat, trying all kinds of tactics to track the beasts down. Needless to say our initial hope of a peaceful retreat and focused workflow was somewhat impeded but did offer a baptism-by-fire short course on horse handling. Thankfully, the farm narrowly missed the wake of any forest fire and the horses always returned unscathed.
Travelling and recording at the same time seems like quite a challenge, what’s in your setup?
Yes, condensing a full studio setup into a rucksack wasn’t easy! In the end we managed to make room by scrimping on our clothing allowance, so aside from a few linen shirts our bags contain two laptops, lots of different headphones, a MIDI Keyboard, hard-drives, a bunch of cables, a camera and a chess set.
What to you has been an essential part of your gear?
It goes without saying that everything just mentioned is absolutely essential to us, but a special mention needs to go to the DJI Pocket 2 which has been a game changer. Everything on our YouTube has been shot with it and it’s smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s withstood every condition we’ve put it through including sandstorms and 45°C heat and is still going as strong as ever.
What have you learned about yourselves in the last three years post-COVID?
Given that COVID happened essentially just after we finished school, the years after have been full of learning and development as they really were our first three years of proper adult life. We spend all our time together so are always growing together and learning from each other. We don’t beat around the bush with each other and learn a great deal from that brutal honesty within our relationship, in a creative capacity but more so a life one. So, to answer your question, we seem to spend every day learning all sorts of things about ourselves, and this all contributes to an overall growth… which is very important to us.
Did you pick up any new skills?
Throughout our travels we’ve been really focusing on learning new languages and are happy to say that we’re picking up a few quite quickly. To be multilingual is a skill we’ve always wanted to have and it feels great to be making the first steps.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Since starting Monolog we’ve dived even further into the Southern African dance scene, and currently we’re obsessed with 3step and Gqom. There’s so much incredible music coming out of Southern African countries right now and it’s all we’re really listening to. It would feel wrong not to mention a few specific artists we’ve recently had on repeat such as MÖRDA, Luxury SA, ZIDDO, Khonaye, DJ Bongz, Dlala Thukzin, Akiid Musiq, Brothers on Cue, Budda Sage, Thabo Tonick and so many more.
What are you looking forward to doing next?
We can’t wait to start performing live again, DJing not only our own releases but the incredible work of the likes of those just mentioned. We also have some collaborative projects in progress and are very excited to be going further down this route. There are so many countries we’d like to visit and an innumerable amount of artists within them that we’d love to work with, so we’ll see where the wind takes us… next year is looking bright!