Mono/Poly, a.k.a. Charles Dickerson
You may recognize multi-talented producer and creator Mono/Poly for his electrifying, jazz-inspired beats on projects under Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label. Records such as “Oh Sheit it’s X” and “Heartbreaks + Setback” performed by Thundercat prove that Mono/Poly’s production skills are a force to be reckoned with.
What’s more is that Mono/Poly’s craft goes beyond music, his world of visual art breaks barriers between the mediums of music and visual creativity. Simply put, Mono/Poly is not your average producer. Read on to enjoy our one-on-one interview with the gifted creative below.
Q: How did you get started in the music business, and which artist(s) or producer(s) were most influential for you?
My dad was a guitarist who played in a funk band when I was young. He was the bigger supporter between my parents. I realized I wanted to make music when I played with the Roland Juno keyboard my dad borrowed from a friend. I always played with the hoover “rave” sound on the Juno as a kid, though I doubt my dad was into those types of sounds. I always thought of blending sounds that weren’t typical and in my teens I began to make beats electronically on computers, Timbaland and many other producers of that time were an inspiration to me. Also, the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and Jazz fusion music shaped my music early on.
My career started around 2007 when I started doing live shows as a DJ. People started catching on when I was played on the radio in the UK, then Flying Lotus hit me up during the Myspace days to link up. It felt as if my path wasn’t planned though everything was synchronistic. Then later on in my career I started collaborating more, leading to work with people like Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar and Ne-Yo.
Q: What would you say was the biggest “aha” moment where you thought, “Wow, I’m really doing this. I’ve really made it”?
I haven’t felt that full moment of success because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say I’ve made it when my thought process has always been to expand and grow but I’ve had moments of feeling pleased at the work I’ve done. One moment related to the question asked is when I played a set at a Coachella pre-party and felt like no one in attendance really cared, then I walked outside after the set and saw Thom York! As I started walking toward him he was also walking towards me and said “Great set!”. It was really exciting because I’m a big fan and I realized that it didn’t matter if anyone else liked the set because Thom York did! I started to see that some of the most influential artists liked my music and that’s what mattered most.
Q: What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Thundercat’s album Apocalypse. I contributed a couple to that album and the process was magical.
Q: Is there anyone specific or a specific show/production that you would like to work with in the future?
It would be cool to work with Kendrick Lamar again, Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Jean-Luc Ponty and Anderson Paak. Speaking of Anderson, we played shows in the same venue multiple times and I’ve met him briefly. It would be cool to get the chance to work with him one day.
Q: What are you working on these days?
I started on a lyrical record that I added more to at Abbey Road last year, so I’ll be finishing that. I also love the idea of creating a completely audio-visual project along with a meditation/ambient album.
Q: If there’s one thing you would like to leave behind as a legacy at the end of your long and fruitful career, what would that be? How do you want people to remember you as an artist?
I want to make the world more magical and synchronistic so that we value our passions more. I’ve seen magical things happen when I lead with passion. I just want to tell people to create and do what they love. I want people to understand the real economy; not an economy based on monetary value but an economy based on passion. The real value is in passion.
Q: Do you have any tips for young, talented artists who are trying to break into the business?
If you’re going to be in the world of music make your own thing out of it. Don’t always stick with a rigid framework, just work from your heart. There’s a lot of mind control that keeps people in a specific framework and I advise anyone to never settle for that mindset. Make music that you’re passionate about. Even some of the bigger artists have different likes and tastes, the most integral thing artists do is follow their hearts to make the music they want.
Q: How were you introduced to Sound Royalties? What has your experience been like with us?
I had upcoming shows that were all cancelled because of COVID-19 and that was a hard blow. I was searching for music grants and found Sound Royalties. I was honestly feeling pretty down at that time but Yanet called after I inquired about the funding options online. Her phone call came at the perfect time and I made the decision to go through the process immediately. It was great. Yanet made sure I understood every step of the process; it was easy, smooth, and cool. Our conversations didn’t feel disconnected; it felt like she really cared.