“Soul-step” band develops stage show; preps major label debut
Monsta frontman Skaar has the kind of pipes that would get all four chairs to turn around on NBC's singing competition show “The Voice,” and the judges might be surprised by what they'd see: Not a gospel diva, but bearded British dude with slicked-back hair and a confident snarl.
Those paying attention have heard Skaar by now, doing his thing over producers Rocky and Rufio’s bass drops and harmonic synths, on the band’s self-titled debut EP for Skrillex’s OWSLA. Interscope Records heard it too, signing Monsta to a deal (jointly with OWSLA) that will kick-off with the release of the “Messiah” EP on May 7. (The Southern-fried track’s video clip, reminiscent of the opening credits of “True Blood,” debuted in late March.) But no one had seen what Monsta looks like live. That changed at this year’s SXSW, when the band – and yes, they are a band, not some shadowy production project – played a slew of shows, including their (and Skrillex’s) booking agency AM Only’s party. We’ve got a first clip at the recap video, including performance footage, below:
“We are 100% a band and always have been,” Rufio tells CODE. “We do everything together and every detail of every element of the music and live shows is created as a band. There are a lot of producers who feature vocalists and that's great, but our aim was always to have one voice for MONSTA that shapes and defines the sound and performances.”
The SXSW video shows Skaar running the floor like a proper rock ‘n’ roll frontman, while Rocky and Rufio play manual instruments, including keyboards and drum pads, for seriously hyped crowds.
“We ended up playing at a lot more shows than we had anticipated as things kept on spontaneously happening,” says Rocky. “Perhaps the best night was at the OWSLA house party when Alvin Risk asked us up on stage to perform ‘Messiah,’ and then he played his remix of it straight after. It was a really special moment for us.”
As they continue to craft their live show, the band is producing some music especially for it, including “The M.O.N.S.T.A.,” a fully instrumental and very inventive hype track that spells the band’s name repeatedly (a good trick at multi-artist shows, including festivals) over high-pitched synths that build up and break down. Take a listen below:
“We wanted to have a track that was our intro, essentially for when we play live, that really sets the tone before we start our sets,” says Rufio. “It felt like a good way to get our name across and introduce ourselves without having to break silence. It totally sets the scene for when Skaar is about to come on stage.”
CODE predicts that soon, these guys won’t need any introduction.