Interview By Kirk Anthony
Kirk Anthony (KA): What was it about house music that drew you to it? What has loving & remaining involved in the artform when it is well past its commercial & mainstream heyday?
Mona Bode (MB): I have been into house music since it was called ‘disco’ when I was around 14 years old (a long, long time ago) and really fell in love when that Chicago sound came to NYC. It is like an old pair of sneakers that you don’t want to throw away - you get a new pair and they feel good for a minute, but you always go back to what you love. That is the best analogy I can come up with regarding that. I have always loved house but, from time to time, I would move to hip-hop, dance, and even reggae (not reggaeton), but would always go back to house music – it’s in my heart. House music makes me feel good & happy; it’s a feeling you have to experience to understand what i’m talking about. I have cried listening to house music because of how it makes me feel.
KA: How would you describe the current state of the house music?
MB: Can’t say much about the industry because I have only been involved in the industry aspect for about 4 years but, on the community aspect of it, the love always stays the same. House heads have a love for each other that only another house head can understand. We are like family and take care of each other.
KA: Do you think the present house music artists & producers are more true to the artform now that its seemingly an underground genre once again with no commercially successful artists to emulate?
MB: I don’t think they have ever not been true to the artform, but I do know many producers will delve into other projects outside of house but will always come back home.
KA: Your bio mentions that you produce house & jazz tracks; how do you have a good “producer’s ear” for two such disparate artforms?
MB: If you listen to jazz, you can hear house and if you listen to house, you can hear jazz; they are one and the same.
In my production world, I can’t create a house track, but I can create a jazz track. I can’t explain it, but I have an impeccable ear for jazz & neo-soul while it taking me longer to acquire such an ear for house.
I’m currently working on my first house track and its taking a long time to complete but it will be hot when its done.
KA: You are also a spoken word artist - what sparked your interest in this artform and how would you describe yourself as a spoken word artist?
MB: That’s an easy one, I have always been into poetry, but was always shy. I think I became more outspoken & uninhibited as I got older. I have been classified as an erotic poet as I tend to spit erotic poetic verses. I just love poetry as a whole.
KA: How did you co-found the Microphone Fiends Open Mic Showcase & where is it located?
MB: Well, a friend of mine (also a poet) & myself started the Microphone Fiends Open Mic Showcase (Mic Fiends) approximately 2 to 3 years ago because we felt there weren’t enough poetry or open mic shows in my town (Harlem, NYC) and we didn’t know of many such spots in Brooklyn which led us to start an open mic venue. I knew some poets who passed the word about the existence of a new open mic venue and Mic Fiends grew from there. I found that poets will always support each other in one way or another.
KA: How would you describe the spoken word scene? How would you characterize your poetry and are you composing any new pieces?
MB: That scene is also underground. Most poetry shows are underground, but it is a lot easier to find shows in this age of the internet & Facebook.
KA: How did you get involved in co-owning a record label (ManMachine Music Productions) ownership? What inspired you to become a co-owner of a record label?
Manmachine Music Productions was formed in 2010 by myself and Trevor Fox in New York City. ManmachineMusic Productions records House Music will be producing R & B as well. I met Trevor Fox through mutual friends who suggested we collaborate on a track together which turned out to be a remix of my first release called "My First Love - the Foremost Poets Adventure” (produced by Johnny Dangerous and Anthony Rier), and they called it "The Ray Of Light" mix ( "My First Love" can be found on traxsource.com
). It was the beginning of a great business relationship and ManMachineMusic Productions was born.
KA: What kinds of artists are on your label? Do you serve as one of the in-house producers for the label and, if so, when you create a beat, how do you determine whether it is a beat for you (as an artist) or for one of the artists on your label?
MB: I have three house music artists on my label and my first artist will release her first track real soon. There are no set formats with the artists & music within my label, it just happens that these three artists are house music artists. I have producers for the house music and they always create great tracks. I will not be involved with creating tracks for myself as an artist at this moment my focus is on my music producing work. I have a few tracks that are completed which are just waiting to be released.
KA: What are the challenges of running an underground record label in terms of it being a viable vehicle in advancing the artistic careers of yourself and the other artists on the label?
MB: Because it’s underground, we are infamous community hahaha!!! In my opinion, house will always be just that – underground. There is such a stigma regarding house as being “gay” music when it’s not. It’s just simply house music.
KA: You are also a first-time author & scriptwriter. How did you get involved in those fields?
MB: I love to write and I think I do it well. I know a lot of poets who have authored & released books. I said “Hmmm, I can do that too” and sure enough, I am also an author. It was one of the many things on my bucket list.
KA: What is your first book, “I Just Wanna Say,” about? Are you working on a second book?
MB: My first book is all poetry; some erotic & some non-erotic.
KA: What does scriptwriting entail? What qualities one must have to be a good scriptwriter? Are you working on a script?
MB: I think it entails having a “vivid imagination” when it comes to writing fiction or fantasy and when writing non-fiction or a biography (or even ghostwriting such things for someone else), you have to be able to write in such a way that people can envision what you are telling them (similar to them watching a movie). I just finished writing a story called “The Good Old Days” which is loosely based on a true story concerning myself & a girlfriend of mine who passed away during the ‘80’s (the height of the hip-hop era). I’m ran a fundraiser so I could start shooting this movie based on a script I wrote. The script was nominated for three awards (best scene, best script, & best alternative social).
KA: You have also managed to start a body producta line, Monabode’s Creations – how did you get involved in this industry and what kind of body products does your company make?
MB: Monabode’s Creations Natural Creations Natural Body Products was started in 2002 to blend natural oils & butters for my friends. After realizing how much of a positive response I was getting from friends and how affordable they were, I was encouraged by family & friends to vend in my neighborhood then progressed to selling a few items on eBay. The response on eBay was great so it was suggested that I have a website built to allow me to sell my items via the internet. The internet made it so much easier for me to interact with potential customers and the success of the company has been overwhelming.
KA: With all these endeavors & fields you’re involved in, how do you manage to give the proper amount of attention to them all or give each endeavor your best without any of your interests suffering from a lack of attention?
MB: I can’t even answer that, I just do. I move better when I’m multitasking.
KA: What would be your words of wisdom for any ladies looking to get seriously involved in any of the fields you’re in? What would be your advice for those seeking to establish careers in more than one field simultaneously as you are doing?
MB: Follow your dreams, don’t be afraid and underestimate yourself.