I've been spotlighting a number of talents found via Bandcamp, until now they've been from outside of Seattle. Last week I sat down at the Faire Cafe with Jus Moni to talk about her debut project and her life here in the six. Tonight she releases the project with a special celebration at Chop Suey. If you are still in town you should definitely check it out.
You grew up in Seattle?
Central District and Becon Hill, between the two.
What were your parents playing, what did you grow up hearing in the house?
Oh, well I've always stayed with my grandmother and she is Cambodian so we've always listened to Cambodian music. But what I gravitated towards Pete Rock, CL Smooth, Pac, Biggie, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, just a mixture.
Do you still listen to the Cambodian music?
When did you start signing?
It's really corny because people are always like I started singing as soon as I could make sounds, but I probably did. But when I started singing and taking it seriously was probably when I was like 12 or something.
How did you connect with the heads you have on your record?
Me and Lace met early last year, not sure how we met but we just did. It was probably through mutual friends. We finally got the opportunity to work with each other and put out the single and that was great.
With Khingz, he is like my brother, he has always been like my older brother. So finally got the opportunity to make music with him, that's awesome.
Cripsy I don't know that well, I met him through Khingz.
In the days when Laced Up used to be open on Pike and we all just kicked it in the shop and SOTA Boys would come through, well Thad was working there and we didn't know he could rap for hella long. And then Parker and Nate just came along. That was some years ago. I knew that Parker had skills when it came to recording and engineering and all that stuff so I was like let me hit up Parker before I make this project.
With Kuddie, it's funny we have never even met in real life and Kuddie listened to a song I was on the hook of with Thad, Good Sin and Tay Sean. So he heard that and hit me up on twitter saying can I send you some beats? I was like yeah whats up. I was sleeping on his beats for hella long and when I finally got to a point where I was ready to start creating music I hit him up asking for permission and he sent me even more. That's why the majority of the project is all Kuddie.
Your Relationship with Sin goes back too?
Kellen is also like my brother, they all consider me like their little sister but we are really close. He has been in my life for a couple years too.
What can you tell me about the session for that track, "Turn Me On"?
Nooo… Actually, let's see. We were all in the studio and Tay Sean is hella funny. In the studio, even in life he is just hella funny so we always have a good time when we get together. Then Thad, The Good Sin, it was just funny. We came together and wrote our verses together, laid it down, it all came together really quick.
Is that you rapping next to The Good Sin on "Almost Lover"?
Are you gonna be rapping more?
I do rap. Sometimes. I only rap for a verse, even half a verse. But I do rap. And I do have a side project called the Game Show Winners. It's Khingz, DJ WD40, Amos, Belicia, and Hollis from Canary Sing. We are called the Game Show Winners and I'm rapping all in the Game Show Winners.
Is that gonna out at some point?
Yes, at the release party we have something special.
Did you have the whole project done in your head before you sat down in the studio with Parker?
Not all of it, most of it was like party music that I had written out to all the beats and when I came to Parker there was still some production that I hadn't written over and that's where he came in, started giving me ideas. I really trust Parker's judgement and his musical genius and so we would go back and forth and stand on tables in the studio and come up with ideas and start spitting out words and it just came together.
So he was providing more than just being a technical recording engineer?
Definitely, that is why he is executive producer on the project. He had so much input with how things sound, what kind of harmonies can I use, how should the song be arranged, can we cut this verse here and put it here, he was all into it. So I appreciate him. I've never been in the studio with somebody who can help me and guide me in the direction I need to go to make an incredible song, so it worked.
What are you working on now, after this?
Game Show Winners stuff. But also I want to travel with Ready For Life, like next year. But I'm sure I'm gonna get back in the studio and start working on the album Spring time next year and it come out early 2012.
Growing up were you hearing Seattle rap?
Probably when I was younger it was like Absynian Creole. It was probably just because I knew Gabe and Khalil. Other than that not really, I wasn't really checking for Seattle rap either. A lot of Seattle Rap is wack.
A lot of what you mentioned was rap, were you listening to much 90s R&B?
Oh Monica? Me and Monica go back, that was my girl. I didn't mess with Aaliyah that much but I sure did know all of her songs lyrics. Not really. I so much gravitated towards just hiphop and rap as my influences and even what I listen to daily. De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest. Tribe Called Quest is probably the biggest influence in my whole music career into even what I do, how I perform, everything.
Have you been doing shows for awhile?
I have, I started doing shows when I was like 12. Seattle young people's project used to host the MLK hiphop show that happened every year in Seattle and we used to have our shows at the Vera Project so we'd rap at the Vera Project or have a guest appearance at like Chop Suey or something for Gabe. It's been a minute, I haven't locked down the town yet but it's been a minute.
What's your set like?
For the release party I'll be performing the first half of my set with DJ WD40 and the second half of my set with Big World Breaks, the live band. So it's gonna be a whole different feel, atmosphere.
Have you rocked with them before?
No, I don't think I have. Maybe with Aaron Walker-Loud just playing drums before at Lo-Fi or something but not with the whole band and just me singing.
So are you trying to get to performing with a live band?
Yeah definitely. I want to travel with the live band shit. I love my DJ, Waylon, he is awesome and he plays cuts. But just the sound of the live band, it's a different experience. You are able to bring people in and take them there.
Are you gonna be getting any DJ WD40 beats in the future?
Well that's the Game Show Winners, all him and Amos.
Is there any modern stuff you are listening to?
Helladope, I fuck with Helladope. SOTA. Now with the modern stuff I really listen to local, modern shit. I fuck with Wiz, not heavy but I fuck with him. Currensy, love that guy. U-N-I, Pac Div, Kendrick Lamar, Diamond District. Those are some cats.
What's your favorite album of the year?
Oh shit… Album of the year would have to be Bilal. The album he just dropped, Airtights Revenge. Album of the year.
Who would you like to collaborate with outside of Seattle?
I really want to work with Exile and Oddisee. Filthy. My whole dream, like I'm living to work with Lauryn Hill one day. If that ever happens, I don't know what I'm gonna do, that's what I'm living for is that opportunity. Also on a lower scale, I'd love to work with Blu, I think that would be incredible. Such talented artists.
Come to the show, Dec. 22nd!
Thanks to Moni for sitting down with me!