Lo Monaco Pens an Apology

Nathan Lo Monaco is a solo artist that hit the scene with his heartfelt and melodically tasteful debut single “Take Me,” back in February of 2020. Going simply by Lo Monaco as an artist name, his sound is lock and step with most of today’s modern artists coalescing organic acoustic instrumentation with electronic elements. Similar artists in aesthetic that you could make comparisons to would be Ed Sheeran or Ari Herstand. However, that aesthetic would be on the surface only: solo instrumentalists/singer/songwriters that are no strangers to putting on elaborate and engaging multi-layered loop station live performances. Outside of that genre generalization, there are distinct contrasts between the aforementioned artists. Where Sheeran on wax ventures more into a dance music, Lo Monaco’s organic, almost folk-esque, guitar-oriented foundations do not get lost in the mix. Where Herstand’s artistic direction ventures off into ambience, Lo Monaco’s stays rooted, intimate, and focused on expressing a particular message directly to the listener.

Lo Monaco’s latest single, “Dear Abbey” was released earlier this month, on September 9th. And just as you would expect from his signature sound, his voice delivers a powerful, soulful expression. It has this remarkable ability to coast over, under, and in between the musical arrangement. It’s like melodic surfing, wading the waters of a musical vibe and then intensifying in syncopation with the rising waves. Truly, a beautiful piece. In terms of subject matter, what makes this single more of a stand out as well, is the perspective in which is sung. In regard to what the song is about, Lo Monaco describes:

So often songs of heartbreak are frequently told from the perspective of the heart broken, not the heart breaker. “Dear Abbey” is a letter written in song form; one that seeks to explore how past traumas can affect the present.

Definitely an interesting perspective. When I think about how we grow as people, I don’t think things are, on average, as “black and white,” as “cut and dry,” (or whatever kind of analogy you want to put to it) as a narrative would need you to believe in order to get a point across. The comment section of today’s latest headlines would be a pretty empty space if it that were the case. Indeed, depending on where life has taken us in a particular moment, there are struggles to forgive, as well as to be forgiven.

I had an incredible opportunity to chat with Lo Monaco a bit about the creative process and what’s in store for the future:

AMS Radio: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me a little bit about your music. As per usual I kick these types of Q&A’s off with some routine questions I am always fascinated to know about each artist I write about. So, first off, what inspires you to create music? Who would you credit as being your biggest influences?

My main inspirations for writing music are love, loss, family and personal life experiences. Majority of the time I need to experience something to be able to write. I’m not one who is good at making fictional stories or making scenarios up in my head. I need to feel and experience a situation first hand to get the creative juices flowing.

My biggest influences are without a doubt Dallas Green (City and Colour) & Dermot Kennedy! Mainly Dermot’s earlier stuff leading up to his debut album ‘Without Fear’ along with the album itself. It would have to be my most listened to album of all time! *Laughs*

Other than that, I pull influences from just about every type of music. I hate to limit myself and feel like there so many cool ideas and sounds to explore! Cinematic sounds from films are one of my all-time favorites to listen for

AMS Radio: Tell me a little bit about your creative/writing process, how does the music make it from concept to final product?

As I said above, I need to experience something. Whether it be trauma, loss, love, heartbreak etc.… A lot of the time I have to wait a few months when the emotions have come back down to a baseline level and my head is clearer. Then I can unpack what has actually happened and write it from a better perspective. Other times I write in the midst of the chaos because it just quite literally comes out of me, like a rush of emotions and creative desire.

AMS Radio: Tell me about the music scene where you are from. What’s popular, what do you like or dislike about it, and what interesting things are happening?

The music scene in Newcastle is blossoming! We have some pretty crazy talented artists here and it feels like more and more keep popping up. I feel like with Newcastle being a working class town, the Muso’s from this area take that into their works. All the Musicians from this area work extremely hard! Whether it be gigging, busking, spending time in the studio or releasing music!

The only downfall to the Newcastle scene is that I feel like it can be a bit of a trap, in that you can easily get caught up in the rat race! There is nothing worse than feeling like you have to rush things or don’t have time for down time and R&R because you are trying to keep up with other artists or creatives!

AMS Radio: Thanks for all that, so now into the nitty gritty of things I am wondering specifically about your music. I found this great performance you did on Pluto TV out there on YouTube. Every time I watch an artist perform an entire set using a loop station I am fascinated. I struggle myself with putting arrangements together on my setup, but I’ll admit I have a pretty basic set up. It’s through a processor and it’s a bit cumbersome to overlay a second, third, etc. So this is a bit of a gearhead question. What kind of loop station or pedal do you use or recommend? Would you recommend that for beginners as well?

Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed that clip! That performance was a while ago now… maybe 2 years or something! I feel like I have come such a long way since then and improved in so many ways!

Especially with vocals and my actual overall live playing and set up with my rig.

Back then I was using the BOSS RC30 – Which is pretty limited as to how much you can loop and the sound quality of the play back! In saying this, I started with this little dual pedal and it is more than enough to start learning how to loop if you’d like to add it to your live set.

In all honesty, I’d love to be fronting a band instead of looping for the most part. But a loop pedal is a lot cheaper and in some ways more reliable! *Laughs*

Obviously you could never get an enormous sound from a loop like you could a 3/4 piece band. But you get my drift…

I’ve since moved on to the BOSS RC500…

It pretty much does the same thing as the RC30, but has a lot more clarity in the play back and just more perks in general. Plus it looks a lot better!

The main thing is that you can lay down a certain amount of bars on one channel and on the second channel do a complete different amount of bars. Whereas the RC30, you can only loop over the same amount of bars as your first loop. If that makes any sense. *Laughs*

I think If you are new to using FX and loop pedals, start off simple and only buy and use one pedal at a time and master the pedal before adding it to your rig. It’s also good to see if it’s the right pedal for you before adding it to your rig, because the whole process can be a lengthy and an annoying one in itself.

If you’re new to looping, stay consistent and practice with it a lot. It’s not the type of thing you can pull out once a month and expect to master it. Hope this helps!

AMS Radio: Helps ME a ton man, thanks for all that! And I realize you’re being humble, I would agree that you’ve grown as an artist like we all do release after release, but it was a good performance, be proud of that! And what a cool gig, Pluto.TV. Great job!

AMS Radio: I also caught your video on your YouTube channel covering “3AM” by Matchbox 20 a couple years ago. And I thought to myself, “oh wow, that is an influence I did not pick up on at all when first listening to your music.” After that I re-visited your catalog and with “new ears” so to speak, I can certainly hear some of that now. And not so much the later stuff, but more so that first album which was more alternative rock. I do remember listening to that album quite a bit back in the day. How much of that still influences your writing today?

Mate, I Idolize Rob Thomas! He was pretty much my first love for music. I was introduced to Matchbox Twenty by my Dad as a young fella. We would go for long family trips up the east coast and back in those days, we played CD’s and Tapes. *Laughs* I feel so weird and old saying that, but it really wasn’t that long ago. Anyway… Dad would mainly play, Matchbox, U2, INXS, Dire Straights, Eagles, Prince & Queen! All of these artists have played a part in influencing me as an artist, how could they not? I mean I was introduced to such amazing artists at such a young age. I have pretty much referenced all of these artists whilst in the production making process with my past 4 single releases… The only person or band from that list that I haven’t referenced is Prince – because ain’t no way anyone going to do it like he did it!

With Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20 though, it’s always kind of been all about the lyrics and his raw vocals for me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love their production! Especially from their albums in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but he tells a story and writes lyrics and music in such a special way, that it has just always resonated with me! Almost like I know him! Of course I don’t, but that’s the most powerful thing about music. Making people feel close to you when they are miles away

AMS Radio: Ab-so-lutely… the best artists convey that indeed…

AMS Radio: And I hate to be cliché with this last one, but I really am curious. What is in store for the future? Any plans for an album, EP, tour?

I am literally currently working on both an EP and Album! I have the musical content ready to go and I have started the production process of both projects. But unfortunately, money plays a big factor! Especially with a young family! So If you’re reading this and want to sponsor me or sign me, Just reach out, because I could use the financial help for these next releases. *laughs* *winks*

Other than that, my plans are to keep gigging, playing shows and writing more music whenever I got a spare 5 minutes. For me, I can never get enough and nothing can ever sound good enough, so I’ll be forever writing and trying to find the perfect song.

AMS Radio: THANK you again for the great conversation. Keep on fighting the good fight brotha, finding those songs in the key of life.

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Spotify // Instagram // Facebook // YouTube

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