Interview Project #6: Big Monster Love

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Big Monster Love is the anti-folk poet of North County Dublin. With a dodgy Casio’s preset drum beats and organ sounds for backing, he fills in some of the lesser spotted song subjects in indie pop with songs about internet dating, 90s megamix discos and more besides. As a motto and description of what Big Monster Love is about, it may be just as well to quote the first line of Little Bear’s Song: “Sitting in Fibbers, waxing metaphysical about what’s what and what is not”. If that doesn’t tell you plenty… you’re not from Dublin. You can download a 2006 EP from his site, but I’m not sure what the progress is on a mooted album.

Big Monster Love – Little Bear’s Song
Big Monster Love – The Act of Union

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Q 0.5 How are you?

Not too bad today.

Q1 Nowadays, when everybody has a decent computer and gear is more available, it’s much easier for anyone to make music and have it heard quickly – does the bedroom music explosion devalue music at all by making it so easy to do?

Not really, because one still has to put immense time and effort into learning to play instruments and write songs on them and then master the arcane arts of recording, mixing and all that jazz on their DAWs or whatever set up they might have. As well as time, it costs quite a bit of money to get a decent set up together. Music can be an expensive hobby. There’s a bigger expectation too for new bands nowadays in my opinion. Making even just a demo seemed like a really big deal when I was younger now it would be odd to find a band that didn’t have some recordings out there, a self-released EP or two. There’s an argument that people let their music out when it’s still a bit half-baked now though but if people like your music, they like it, who can say what might have been?
I’d say some musicians find it disheartening to realise they’re not unique, that so many thousand other people out there are doing roughly the same stuff. When everything is equally accessible it is hard to stand out from the crowd.

Q2 Is downloading a good thing? Does the fact that it’s possible to get so much music so easily and for free make it more disposable at all?

Downloading to me has been a good thing, more potential fans can hear more music, more readily but I suppose it does have culturally and economically detrimental effects. Our collective attention spans seem shortened by this embarrassment of riches and also I don’t think as a listener I put as much time into a record now as I did when I bought more of them. Music is definitely more disposable. I don’t think it’s hip to say that unauthorised downloading is in any way detrimental but it probably is, and probably more so to independent bands and labels than to the bigger fish.

Q3 Is there anything that makes your music quintessentially Irish? Is it intentional?

Ah yeah. Everything from the way I sing to what I sing about is informed by where I’ve grown up and where I live. It was more deliberate in the past, now performing the way I do is second nature. I found it odd when I was younger that in order to be a singer you had to sound very much like Kurt/Eddie/Johnny Rotten/Morrissey or whoever. Although you can clearly hear the influence of music I’ve liked, I’d hate my music to be an ersatz version of someone else’s.

Q4 Do you find it difficult to self-edit, or to take a step back from your music and look at it objectively?

No, not really.

Q5 Is there a Dublin scene, or even smaller genre-based scenes? Are you a part of one?

There’s definitely some sort of overarching “Dublin scene” which contains a plethora of other scenes depending on taste but I don’t think it is as explicit or aware as the music scene in say your average big British city. Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow all seem to have more confident, united music scenes but maybe that’s just the perception of an outsider.

I’m part of an indie/lo-fi pop scene that includes lots of bands/acts. I don’t know how coherent it is, it doesn’t have a newsletter or anything but the same group of acts usually turn up on the same bills etc.

Q6 Name a non-musical influence on your music.

History books.

Q7 Take one of your songs and explain the process of writing it from the beginning to the finished article.

That’s a hard one. The latest song I’ve written, which I haven’t recorded yet but have played live is the freshest in my mind. I was noodling around with my guitar, trying to learn some scales when I stumbled upon the main hook. I liked it and bunged a few chords together to go after it. My guitar playing skills are fairly limited so I’m always delighted when I get something sounding half decent. The lyrics started off as nonsense, just trying to get a vocal melody but some of the nonsense stuck and the song started to be about something. I wrote some more words to compliment the first verse/chorus, played it in its entirety a few times and hey presto!

Q8 Has music criticism ever influenced your music, or at least made you think about it differently? I mean proper reviews, but also blogs or even just hearing someone you don’t know talk about you.

Yeah definitely. I’ve become aware that I come across to some people (maybe most people?) as a novelty act. It’s hard to take someone who looks like me, playing in the way I do, seriously. I don’t take myself too seriously but at the same time it’s not just a joke. I hate most music-based comedy, it gets tiresome very quickly. I’ve never had any record reviews, the live reviews I’ve had have been generally positive so far.

Q9 Have you ever felt guilty for trying to get other people to take an interest in your music, if you aren’t making the effort with new music yourself?

Yeah a bit. It can be too much to figure out whether I like the latest 100 hot blogged bands.

Q10 Would you call yourself a traditionalist with regard to music, either as a listener or in how you go about writing/recording/performing?

Not really. I have my serservations about some aspects of the digitalisation of music but I’m not sure willful luddism would be beneficial to anyone involved.

Q10.5 What’s something you’re listening to right now?

Right this second I’m listening to MP3s I just found through hypem.com, DatA, Discovery, and MSTRKRFT.

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12 responses to “Interview Project #6: Big Monster Love

  1. First answer in the affirmative to the ‘Irishness’ question 🙂

  2. Yeah, I noticed that too. It’s funny, Cormac said it was conscious at first. Maybe it has to be conscious?

    There’s something being said about the national sense of self here, but it’s not completely clear yet. Not enough culturally distinct about Irishness to make Irish people feel Irish people feel Irish by default, without choosing to show it? Or is it a value decision?

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