That Man Monkz launched his 'Shadeleaf Music' imprint last year with a belter of a record, oozing a profound love for all things deep and detroit and complete with a remix by perennial favourite Chris Duckenfield. The sophomore release on the label is about to come out, a pair of reworks by Monkz of American singer Khalil Anthony. There's a big chance you've never heard of Khalil Anthony before (we sure hadn't) and That Man Monkz might be a new name to you as well. It's an incredible record though, on of those twelves where you can sense comes with a good story. So we got in touch with Monkz (or Scott to his postman) and had a brief yet most pleasant chat about the label, the new records and vinyl Yoda. He surprised us afterwards with an exclusive guestmix that we just stuck up on our soundcloud page, filled to the brim with moody deephouse from the likes of Ugly Drums, Soulphiction, Theo and Moodymann.
Monkz started producing and remixing a few years ago as the co-founder of Small Arms Fiya, after having done a bit of work with Bare Knuckle Soul prior to that and having deejayed around Sheffield for a while. Then life got in the way a little, but in the last year or Monkz returned to production and deejaying, releasing a couple of solo EPs for Tone Control and some collaborative stuff on other labels too. 'The opportunity to start Shadeleaf came along late last year, and was too good an opportunity to miss. I'd always wanted to start my own label, but thought it might realistically be a little further down the line'. The aforementioned Chris Duckenfield, one of the owners and operators of All Ears distribution - arguably the best independent record distributor in the world - convinced Monkz otherwise and urged him to get on with it. Chris Duckenfield is one of the pickiest buggers in the world, so when he likes your stuff - and he wants to distribute it - you know you're onto something good. We readily agreed on dubbing Chris D 'the vinyl yoda', without whom we would both be utterly lost in this vinyl game.
Shadeleaf was originally planned as a vehicle for Monkz to get own music out more quickly, and have more of a say in creative control. 'I'm really happy that it's already developed beyond that with this Khalil Anthony EP. The label is moving forward into signing and developing other artists. The first two - and the next release on Shadeleaf - hopefully lays down our market for being interested in whatever we feel constitutes individual, underground, soulful dance music.'
We did a bit of research on Khalil Anthony to find out who we were dealing with. We stumbled upon his recent album 'Train', which is listed under 'power-folk' at one independent music retailer, which is quite an apt description, as the album really does sound like Ben Harper on steroids, where guitars are replaced for synths and drum computers. We also discovered Anhony is a budding novellist and it seems like he's done some acting too.
'Khalil and I first met in a bar I was tending in Sheffield about 5 years ago. He was over doing some writing work with our mutual friend, the author Desiree Reynolds. We hit it off straightaway and kept in touch online afterwards. Late last summer he sent me a link to his album 'Train' - which is dope, by the way - and I hit him straight back up about remixing a couple of the joints..... Neither of us really knew what the other one actually did, but luckily he was down with the idea, and I got to doing it just as the idea for Shadeleaf Music was coming together. After telling Khalil about it, we agreed that it seemed a perfect fit. He's just visited a month or so back to hang and work on some new material together, which was only the second time we'd actually met. We had a great time, and his creativity and talent are really infectious to be around and also hugely inspiring to work with. I hope we'll be working together for a long time to come.'
These kindred spirits do indeed seem to complement each other perfectly, with Monkz supplying the deep and dusty grooves and Anthony providing the vocals. The EP comes with dubs too but I doubt those will see many plays with vocals this strong. Sterling stuff from this young yet ambitious label that should make some serious waves in discerning house circles this year, as there seems to be lots of irons in the fire over at Shadeleaf HQ. 'Next up on the label is a V.A. EP with music from producers I'm a huge fan of (Lay-Far, Jumping Back Slash and NY*AK). I'm also working more with Khali, Dnae (who's on the first release) and J. Gordon, a singer from London. I do material for other labels too if I feel it complements what I'm trying to do with Shadeleaf.
Out next week, pre-order a copy here
To celebrate the release, Monkz put together an exclusive guestmix for us, with proper, proper deephouse from start to finish, including a cut of his new record as well as some classic bits from KDJ, Theo and new bits from the likes of Max Graef.
Big thanks to Monkz for the music!