November 8, 2016

Having established herself as one of BBC Radio 1′s most talked about DJs, Monki (or Lucy Monkman) has also founded her own label, Zoo Music, and launched a touring club night, Monki and Friends. From checking out new tracks to playing festivals across the world, Monki is a tireless force. Set to play Rise Festival this December in Les Deux Alpes, we caught up with her about breaking into the industry, her first ever gig at KOKO and her Rise Festival packing essentials.

UO: What was the first record that got you interested in music?

It was more radio that got me interested in music. I always liked music before that, but never saw it as something I wanted to pursue; it was radio that really gripped me. I loved specialist shows on R1 and pirate stations, because it was music that I’d never heard on the radio before (only listening to daytime before in the car with my dad or something). The first CD I got was the Gorrilaz album that my mum bought me and the first record I bought was Eric B & Rakim – Eric B is President.

UO: Was it always in your plans to make music your career or was it something that happened along the way?

No, it was a very late decision. I always wanted to play football but no one around me was interested in football really and I wasn’t aware women could have a career in it, well you couldn’t really then, it’s different now. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time; I almost joined the army like my dad, I studied Law and Economics at college for a bit and then I discovered radio when I was about 16/17.

UO: What’s the best thing about your touring club night, Monki and Friends, and how did it get started?

The build up to a night is so nerve-racking, even when you know it’s sold out you still get worried if it’s going to be good. The best thing about it is seeing it all coming together, the final product, the party. It really started just because I thought I should throw a party with a bunch of mates and have a good time, which we did. Now it’s a bit bigger and a more regular thing, a bit more than just having a lary one with some friends!

UO: What are your festival goals? Are there any stages or sites that are waiting to be ticked off your bucket list?

I’ve played a lot festivals and stages over the last couple years, but there are always bigger ones and better slots to play. I would like to see M&F Stages in the future.

UO: You started out interning at Rinse FM before moving over to the BBC. What would your advice be to anyone wanting to break into the music industry, whether it’s A&R, radio, or digital marketing?

Do a lot internships, meet a lot of people interested in the same things as you; you’ll have so much fun doing those things if you’re in this for the right reason.

UO: You’ve made a name for yourself as a respected tastemaker – what’s your tip for discovering great new artists? Are you constantly listening to new tunes?

Yeah a lot of my week is taken up by listening to music, trying to find music online, popping into clubs for an hour or two in the week. I guess you naturally have to have a good ear, a record has to make you feel something, you have to connect with it on a emotional level, whether it’s making you want to dance or cry. You don’t need many tips now, there is so much music online, there’s nothing like hearing it in a club though. Make sure you find that connection when you’re listening to music, there’s so much of it, it’s harder to sift through the not so good stuff.. it’s easy to say.. ah well that’s alright, that’ll do.

UO: What’s been your most memorable night to date and why?

That’s a really hard one. There’s deffo more than one. My first ever gig at KOKO was pretty nerve-racking, I just turned 18 and I played to no-one but I was still so nervous, Annie Mac let me warm up. First time in Ibiza with R1 a few years ago was a, ‘I can’t believe I’m here’ moment. I’ve played Sonar before but this year I played as NRG Flash and that was amazing, the crowd were so open-minded and up for it, we really got to experiment and play all the bangers at the same time.

UO: What can we expect from your set at Rise Festival in three words?

Fun, snow and dancing.

UO: What are your Rise Festival packing essentials?

A decent pair of winter trainers, gloves, snood, sunglasses, proper socks!


I’m currently listening to… Listening to new Bonobo as I’m writing this

My favourite venue to play is… Right now it’s Tobacco Docks

My favourite piece of kit is… Roland TR8

In 2017 I want to… See Arsenal win the league, amongst loads of other things ha

Get your tickets to Rise Festival, 10 – 17 December, here.