Ray Mono delivers the second release on his newly launched mono_cult

Ray Mono delivers the second release on his newly launched mono_cult imprint this November, entitled ‘Synchronicity’ and backed with remixes from Nu Zau and Sepp. Throughout the past decade Ray Mono has been a driving force in the contemporary Northern England electronic music scene, making regular appearances at institutions like Leeds Mint Warehouse and Distrikt as well as London’s 93 Feet East and fabric. On top of this, Mono’s material has found a home on many revered imprints within his raw and reduced house style such as Pleasure Zone, Locus, Meta, Politics Of Dancing Records, TRMNL and more. Following on from the launch of the mono_cult imprint in August, which featured two originals and remixes from Mihai Pol and Sota, Ray returns here with more fresh material and remixes to make up the second release.

Hi Ray Mono, thanks for taking the taking to talk to us here at Nightclubber. For those who may be unfamiliar with you are could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you, I always keep an eye on “Nigthclubber”.  

For those who don’t know me my names Paul Raymond and I DJ/ producer under the name “Ray Mono”.  

I started out as a promoter/ DJ at my own event called “mono_cult” which ran from 2007-17.  

When that finished I decided I would take DJing & specifically producing full time. Since then I have released EP’s on such labels as: Locus, OGE, Pleasure Zone, Meta, Moxy, TRMNL, Politics Of Dancing, Bamboleo, Moan, Deeperfect to name a few

Your newly launched imprint mono_cult was born out of a club night you curated in the UK under the same name, could you please share with us a little about this party, some of the guests you invited over the years and what kind of sound you think is synonymous with the events series?

I was at uni in Leeds and after my first season in Ibiza and spending every Monday at Circoloco (DC-10) and Cocoon (Amnesia) I guess I didn’t want the season to end so I decided to start a Sunday daytime party when I got back. My ethos was to compliment and not compete with my friends’ events which where the established nights at the time such as Back-2-Basics and Asylum/Technique which were on Fridays & Saturdays. I figured why not do a Sunday daytime party, so instead of always after partying in a student house on a Sunday there would be Friday/ Saturday line ups on a Sunday afternoon/ evening.

It took off right away, it was what was needed in the city and opened up a lot of doors for me and the crew. I mean we had a residency the next year (2008) hosting “mono_cult” in the El Salon room at Space in Ibiza for Carl Cox’s Tuesday night event (which was voted best night on the island that year).

We booked everyone who was anyone at the time if I’m honest. Its hard to pick a few names because we booked across the board. I mean we started very influenced by the minimal we heard at DC-10 but we also book the likes of Kerri Chandler, Ame, Dixon, Skream, Delano Smith, Move D, Rhadoo, Midland, Damien Lazarus, Joy Orbison, Jackmaster, Henrik Schwartz. That’s the tip of the ice berg…

So far the label has been a home for your own output and releases from some incredible artists, including some from Romania such as Nu Zau, Mihai Pol and Sepp,  as well as Amsterdam’s Sota. Is the plan to keep the label a home for your own original music moving forward and could you tell us about your connection to the Romanian sound and scene?

Yeah the plan with the label is to release my own music but also to put out solo EP’s from artists I’m digging. I realised if I want my music out constantly without delays I needed to take control of it. After years of delays waiting on other labels which if I’m honest slowed my momentum I had to take control. Its all good though, it was a learning curve and if I had any advice to up and coming artist it’s to start their own label once they become an established name.

As for my connection to the Romanian sound. The music that really influenced me was initially “minimal”. As I mentioned earlier in my seasons in Ibiza during early 2000’s. Watching the likes of Ricardo Villalobos bring a:rpia:r crew on the scene. That was I guess the first wave of Romanian talent to really make waves and since then the doors been open for the next generation to continue pushing the sound.

As well as producing, you’re also maintain a steady touring schedule which takes you across the globe, could you share with us some of the recent highlights of places you’ve been in recent years? Are there any places you feel strongly connected to either in terms of country or particular nightclubs?

I always wanted to tour South America and far afield to experience different cultures  

I have played big clubs such as D-EDGE (Sao Paulo, Brazil). La Feria (Santiago, Chile) and Salon Amador (Medellin, Colombia). Even Festivals alongside the likes of Alexis Cabrera, Sepp, Politics Of Dancing (Medellin, Colombia.)

Another huge highlight so far for me was touring Australia and playing for the biggest event there called S.A.S.H.

In the UK I have played clubs such as Fabric, WHP, TRMNL, Mint Club/Warehouse, The Arch and for brands such as Eastenderz, Locus & Do Not Sleep.

I’m only just getting started… a lot of big plans for next year in the US but I can’t mention them until they are announced.

Your label has embraced the vinyl format, are you a collector of records and DJ with them or did you simply feel it’s an important format for your music to be on? If you’re a collector, what are some of your favourite places to buy records in the world?

Yeah, I have been playing vinyl and collecting for 18 years. I always carry a record bag and play between vinyl and digital in my sets.

You can’t go wrong with Phonica in London when in the UK.

I normally buy online from Juno, Deejay.de & Decks.de.

Though my go to is Discogs. I can find rare records there which are the ones that make sets more unique for sure.

What’s something personal in your life that you would feel comfortable to share with us and the world that people may not already know about you?

That’s a hard one because I live and breathe house music so that’s what I’m all about…  

What’s next for Ray Mono, mono_cult and your life in general?

I’m just making sure I am consistent in the studio and building my label with the aim of gigging and touring more and more from 2024 onward.

Lastly, can you recommend us a track that you feel summarises the deep winter and dark days we have approaching us here in Europe? Something you could stick on the record player next to a warm fireplace with some friends…

One that comes to mind and was the first track I played in a set after the lock downs:

Prodot – Special Things

I played it in the “Eastenderz” stage at the “Dance On Arrival” Festival.

The vocals talk about the special things in life and about freedom and happiness. I thought it summed up what was happening at the time with the bullshit lockdown laws that cheated us out of over a year of our lives.  

Even now with everything going on in the world, were peoples “freedoms and happiness” are being eroded all the time I guess it’s just as poignant.

Keep it up with Ray Mono here