Google+ Beathearts: Beat Generation Series #4: MKRBT (Brussels)


Beat Generation Series #4: MKRBT (Brussels)

In our quest to discover new soulful underground music we come across many up and coming producers from all around the world. We thought is was about time to put the spotlight on a few of them that we think are about to blow up. We call it The Beat Generation Series.


MonkeyRobot is producer-duo made of Brussels based beatmakers Eric P and LuiGi (Eric Paquet & Louis Van De Leest). After more than 10 years of activity as hip-hop producers under the moniker of the Infinitskills-crew they changed their name and visual identity into MKRBT/MonkeyRobot early 2010. Exploring the boundaries of soulful music between 90 and 120 BPM became their acclaimed trademark.

Monkeyrobot also makes part of the electronic/ cross-over future jazz project ' 74 Miles Away' inspired from the likes of Bob James, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock to the futuristic beatmakers of today.


Beatmakers and drummers are a great source of inspiration for us discovering new soulful underground music. Are you drummers as well? When/how did you start making music?

LuiGi: I always was surrounded by music and musicians at home since I was a little kid. Later on I started drumming at the age of 7, and played in several groups from my 16 till 25 more or less.  The fact to have a drummers background played an important role when I discovered the MPC for the first time. Must have been somewhere around 2002. It definitely influenced the rhythmical programming of MKRBT with other words, screw the sequencing, and go live as it gets haha!

In my later childhood I started taking piano lessons parallell to my drumming courses. I always had a love for the "rhythm section". And actually when you're creating beats or other electronic related music, this "rhythm feeling" on keys, bass or drums, is just a blessing. Blessing in a sense that you can produce in a spontaneous way, guided by my intuition, without posing questions on how should I do this or that.

Eric P: I'm not a drummer. I started playing guitar when I was 15, mostly playing blues and rock standards. The years after, when skateboarding became part of our life, I became more familiar with local punk and hardcore bands. Mostly through my brother, who played in one of these infamous local bands - Down But Not Out.

In '94 a friend of mine made me discover the art of sampling which also was the first introduction to a sampler. I made my first steps with early computer audio software which I switched for the MPC2000XL back in 2000. Nowadays, I use the MPC in combination with familiar audio software and synths.

As we both love "the live sensation" of playing music we translated our productions into a dynamic electronic live-set. Our jazz/fusion project '74 Miles Away' gives us the opportunity to play with other musicians, and to make part of an organic live band. This project is based on a minimal sequenced based structure.

Download: 74 Miles & Monkey Robot - Neverending Rhodes

What does the creative process behind a new Monkey Robot track/remix look like? 

We mostly exchange ideas, samples, drum patterns. Really rough unpolished stuff that goes from one to another. After exchanging, and building up a song in layers and pieces, we finish it up together in the studio. Consider it as a perfect example of complementary work, which finally is the strength of MKRBT. Where one half is good into digging for the right sample at the right moment, the other half drops down the bassline, drum chops.

Sometimes we build up a song from scratch in the studio: jamming, recording, arranging but that's rather rare. We tend to catch up in the studio as much as possible, despite busy professional occupations.

Who were your musical heroes when growing up?

From old school hardcore punk bands over blues legends, jazz heroes, 80's metal, pop idols to 90's rap supremacy. To name a few:

Jimi Hendrix, Pharcyde, Gangstarr, Black Flag, Michael Jackson, Jeru the Damaja, Circle Jerks, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Sick of it all, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Smif 'n Wessun, Black moon, J.L. Hooker, A Tribe called Quest, Wu tang and Early Metallica.

What are your inspirations today? Could you drop a few albums or tunes that have recently blown your mind?

Nowadays there are so many names, so many dope producers, so many dope tracks that pops out everyday. It's hard to be uninspired!

But on the other hand, due to this massive daily overexposure, it's not that easy to discover good quality music that gives inspiration. Our inspiration still mostly comes from listening to older records from the 60-80's. From rock over jazz, soul, boogie records, crappy dollar bin records. But sometimes just a particular sound on a crappy record is sufficient to inspire us and to starts building up a song.

Here are a few contemporary names that definitely had an impact on the musical evolution of MKRBT the last two years:

Floating Points: All his EP's
He's just a musical genius. Nothing more to add.

Thundercat: The golden age of Apocalypse
The reborn Weather Report with a touch of Flying Lotus, virtuosity galore. The legacy of Jaco Pastorius still remains.

Dauwd-What's there EP
Terrifically well executed minimalist future garage. Ear catching indeed.

Pomrad - Vlotjes EP
Local producer who blew our mind, after seeing his live-performance in Brussels. Probably the best live beat set we've ever seen so far. Clever productions and a brilliant approach on the keys.

Any dream collaborations?

Nothing in particular, we just want to work with talented vocalists. Maybe a track together with Patrice Rushen on vocals and fender rhodes?

One of the first tracks that caught our attention was the sub bass slow roller Brick stomach. Tell us how that track came about?

LuiGi messed around with a new plug in, a Mini korg on one side, MPC on the other. This is one of the rare tracks that was build up from scratch during one evening (beside the mixing). No samples, just raw layers. As we're really bad in finding adequate names for our tracks, I literally referred to the Belgian syndrome that explains' the love of building and rebuilding houses'. Some subby broken beat going on here. At loud volume it feels as a brick in your stomach.

How would you describe the music scene in Belgium? There was of course R&S records that left a huge impression in the 90s, electronic/pop experiment Czerkinsky and more recently Lefto.  Do you consider yourself part of the scene?

Belgium has an infamous, for most unknown, musical history. Legendary jazz cats and projects, chansonniers, the Belgian Popcorn DJ-movement which was somewhat the Belgian equivalent of England’s better known Northern Soul movement, a largely spread new-wave community in the beginning of the 80's, inventing the new beat scene at the end of the eighties (which became the precursor of European House), widely spread techno & house output during the nineties and it's related internationally acclaimed club culture, and maybe most of all Belgium is internationally the most renowned for their rockbands we guess. Let's say that the Belgium's musical history and output is quite phenomenal in proportion to the tiny scale of our country. The list of bands and artists is endless.

We consider ourselves to be part of a movement instead of a music scene as such. There are a lot of DJ's /producers//blogs/promoters who are more or less walking the same path when we're talking of producing or playing soulful underground music. As we've been making music for over 10 years now most of them became friends or friends of friends. Brussels, our capital and the place where we live, is quiet active in promoting quality music the last years through dedicated radio shows, parties, labels and blogs.

You recently featured on Tall Black Guy's compilation Tempo Dreams (Bastard Jazz). How did you hook up with him?

It was Terrel (Tall Black Guy) that looked us up after being asked by label Bastardjazz to compile an album with his favorite up and coming producers. Always a pleasure when a talented cat asks you to be featured on his proper compilation. Such opportunities definitely motivates us to push the boundaries of our own production skills towards the future. By the way, Terrel himself is gonna be a huge name among on the current producers-scene. No doubt!

The featured track "Basement infusion" is such a banger. It almost feels like a part 2 of Danny Breaks classic "Jellyfish" track. We're you inspired by that tune?

Not at all. We didn't even know that track to be honest haha! It was the first time I recorded with the little phatty (moog) in the studio. All baselines and arpeggiators come from this terrific machine. It happened really spontaneous. Messing around with a new toy in the morning, and ending up the day with a housy track which became Basement infusion. The influence of listening to a lot of slow house and UK-bass music at that time is reflected on the whole track.

What can we expect from the MonkeyRobot studios in 2012?

Preparing a new jazz/broken/raw/future beat oriented album with 74 miles Away, powered by our close friends at Laid Back. Feature on a remix album from a local cat called JtotheC, with other artists. It's a 12'' and powered by local labels On-point & Citywurl records. We're also updating our live set and playing some festivals at the end of the year with 74 Miles Away. Other than that we're working on a track for a remix album powered by producer Evil Needle. We're continuously trying to get more stuff out of our synths and modules, before we buy new equipment haha! 

Which other up and coming producer do think deserves more attention?

Local beathead Title deserves to get more attention, one of the most underrated producers out here. Our fellow Brussels citizens Goldffinch, which are more active on the uptempo front, are becoming a familiar name in the UK-scene, and I hope they will continue their crusade.

As a bonus you've handed us a Beatheartsexclusive track straight from the studio. Tell us about the tune!

Yes! This track is more of an edit. A chopped up original, based on a sample from Special Agent Man from the Italian group Gaznevada. They put out quite a few records from 1979 until their demise in the late 80's. Special Agent Man fits the Italo mold nicely, which basically is cheesy vocals/lyrical concept meets a very solid groove. Anyway, the instrumental version is really nice. Instant inspiration from the first moment we heard this record.

That's it for this edition of the Beat Generation Series. We're really looking forward to MKRBT's upcoming projects and are sure you'll hear about them soon again!

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