By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
DJ/student Mono/Poly violates no anti-trust laws with his beats
Cal State Fullerton student Mono/Poly Charles Dickerson got his first big break on semester break: One of his instrumentals crackled out over the BBC, thanks to a sympathetic DJ who thought the producer was on to something. Now this young up-and-comer—one of a whole wave of beat-smashers graduating from Andrew Meza’s landmark BTS Radio (www.myspace.com/btsradio) at CSUF—has two semi-finished full-lengths racing to become his first official vinyl release. He speaks now from his home in Bakersfield while on yet another semester break.
How did it feel to hear your music on the BBC?
It was actually January of this year when they were playing it. That was when I was just beginning to put my music out to people, and I was like, “Oh, man, that was cool!” I didn’t think I’d get my music played that quickly! I took a screenshot of the playlist. I was real proud of it.
Did you ever get in trouble for making beats during a computer class?
Naw, but in high school, I got in trouble for setting up Quake! Some kids ratted me out because I wasn’t there that day. Pretty shady!
Was that before or after you started making beats?
I started before high school. On some shareware shit! It was so wack. The simplest thing, but it helped me. It limited me, so I had to find a way to be creative. And a Casio keyboard. Pretty cliché—everyone is like, “I started on Casio.” But it helped. I used to think I was rocking: Casio presets and a few drum loops! I’d click my little patterns like, “Yeah, I’m the man!” When I upgraded, it was to FruityLoops, and I still use it. But now I have all this hardware—an MPC and stuff. I sit in my room all day and make beats.
What does the newest one you’ve made sound like?
I’m into a lot of the glitchy electronica stuff and dubstep. I really love doing that. I love programming all kinds of sounds, and to hear a lot of other artists doing a lot of stuff that I’d like to be doing is so cool. “Man, I could put this out and people would like it!”
What’s special about the beat-making community in California?
California has always been one of my main influences. The producers here! There’s something about the funk in the California beats that nobody can do! I guess because we were raised around it so much that we get the hang of making it. In Southern California, people like Flying Lotus are killing it! It’s good to be from this place with these artists.
What’s the most natural sort of sound for you to work with?
It’s always different. I get real bored real quick. That’s why I always sound a little different—though you can probably always tell who it is. When I sit down, I feel like I got to do something new.
What producers would you like to share an album with?
What would that release party be like?
It’d be crazy! A weird mix of people. I wanna hear Danjahandz make an instrumental album, like a whole beat album. I know it’d be crazy. He’s so talented. I’ve seen him make stuff with Duran Duran, and you know when people work with other artists who aren’t in the same genre and it usually sounds goofy? He made it sound really good.
How do you think he got to that point?
It’s about listening to all kinds of music. It seems like when a lot of people try to make a certain style, they can’t do it. They don’t really listen—they listen, but they don’t indulge to where they understand the whole groove. It’s a different groove for different things. I had a problem with this a lot between Timbaland and J Dilla. Timbaland was then one of my favorites, but people would be like, “Dilla is the best! Dilla is the best!” I tried to explain that it was a whole different groove because I did like J Dilla.