Seasoned Professional Vocalist, Guitar, Producer 35+ Years Studio & Touring
When Monte picked up his step-dad's old nylon string at 8 years of age he never imagined the adventures it would take him on. Countless hours of bedroom practice later he broke free of the home environment and made his way busking in the mountain towns of Colorado at the age of fifteen. By the early eighties had had landed apprenticeships at recording studios in the Denver area learning core production and engineering skills that continue to be vital today. With a voracious appetite for music Monte was never content with the 'one project at a time' approach. In addition to solo performing he continually collaborated in songwriting and working with bands. In the late nineties he focused his efforts in the Spokane, Washington area with an alternative/ progressive rock band 'Kite'. That collaboration spawned four albums and saw them touring until 2008. Over 4000 gigs later, that little nylon string has been replaced by a quiver of professional instruments. Monte continues to perform and with the benefit of the internet, lends his talents and experience to projects across the globe.
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Interview with MT Creative
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently sctratching out an album of some of the random pieces that have avoided my full attention over the years. Scratching is fun because it's about throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. People rarely work like that any more because of the time and consequently, money that it takes to just squirrel away days in a studio playing with ideas. I've put my scratch work up on Soundcloud so you people can hear the process.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The last album that Kite recorded was called Sleeping in Thunder. The credits I have for composition, arrangement, lead vocals, guitars and production are a pride point for me. It was a collaboration to be sure, and not always smooth sailing, but it was the culmination of years of touring and band camaraderie. It will always stand out to me as a highlight of my musical career.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I'm new here, but I hope to meet lots of talented professionals.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. Becaue a digital cymbal swell is never very good. Because rewinding and splicing tape is not fun. Because very few drummers have great meter...or pocket. Because acoustic guitar should never be played on a keyboard. And many more reasons.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will give you my very best - performance, advice, focus, research whatever it is that your music requires to shine.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Creative diversity
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Can you fix my ______? (performance, writing, production, you name it) My answer is usually simple: Go back to the start. Rewrite. Strengthen your voice. Re-record the song with 'x' production tips in mind.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Sometimes people have an idea that they can hire a session musician and/or a producer and it will make their song amazing. This really couldn't be farther from the truth. I won't go ahead with a project if either the music, or the artist isn't ready. I've heard great background singers do their parts behind a lack luster artist and what happens is the background singer shines even brighter. Anyone who hears it instantly knows that the background singer is much better than the artist, and that's all they remember about the song.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: If I'm being hired for performance work (vocals or guitar) then all I really want is to get familliar with the music and what they want me to do. In the producer role I need to talk to them over Skype or on the phone to get an idea opf what they are hoping to achieve creatively.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Answer these interview questions so I can get to know you too :-)
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A carbon fiber nylon string guitar and four sets of strings.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: My bio tells it pretty much. I apprenticed as an engineer in Denver in the early eighties and have been in numerous bands and recording projects over the last 35+ years.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Pretty transparent really. I like to let the artist shine through, particularly their quirks.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Ed Sheeran. The guy is a brilliant song writer and has an incredibly diverse voice.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Only record great songs. How do you know? Play the song acoustically and hone the performance from there. If the song stands out with just one instrument, one voice, and no effects, then you've got a diamond in the rough and all we have to do is polish.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Acoustic driven rock/pop/folk, anything that has a strong melody. I love delicate. A great example of this is Lyle Lovett's "North Dakota". Give it a listen.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Cutting out the clutter and getting to what is important at the heart of the sound.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: It's difficult to sum this up. It depends on the song really. A song might have great a chorus hook but lack structure in the verse. These are things I hear. I guess you could say that I my first goal is to attain a "forest' perspective of the piece. From there we can swoop in and give the individual 'tree' just what it needs.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Familiarity is key, even for sight readers, so I like to get to know the piece and the artist first. the rest flows from there, I prefer an organic approach.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My preferred DAW is Logic Pro. My studio hardware is chaging all the time. Currently I'm running a Lexicon converter but will be changing to an Apollo Twin MkII Quad, Slate Raven controller and Slate Digital Virtual Mic System.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: It's a long list. From guitarists like Michael Landau (James Taylor, Vonda Shepard) to producers like Trevor Horn and cross-over musician/producers like Roland Orzabal there are a lot of inspiring artists out there!
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I've most recently finished doing vocal work to a karaoke version of Cher's "Do you believe in life after love" for a client in Japan for their own private use ( some kind of birthday party I was told) so, really it can go anywhere. I love the diversity of music.