FEATURE: Mono | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Mono is a shining example of what can be done by a group of individuals with a shared passion; whether they’re releasing work by singer-songwriters or bubbly indie pop bands, the Newcastle-based label hold aesthetics and high quality formats in equally as high regard as the excellent new music they’re investing in.

Run by North East music stalwart Mick Ross (Minotaurs, Soundtracks For A B-Movie, Frankie & The Heartstrings), alongside Kaiser Chiefs production manager James Hennin and tech and design genius Jonny Hamilton, the label base themselves out of a recording studio in the Ouseburn Valley. “James and I had set up the studio and were looking to do something else, and broaden Mono’s horizons.” Mick says about the label’s origins. “We’re kinda polar opposites musically despite having very eclectic tastes, so we spoke to Jonny about getting involved in a label so that we could get away from just putting out local bands digitally and release both local and national/international artists on various formats, plus creating our own music platform. James is a huge dance/house fan so his taste broadens what myself and Jonny would gravitate towards.”

Having all had experiences with labels of varying sizes over the years, the trio are keen to set themselves apart by offering a bespoke service which draws on their own individual talents. “We want to get back to people being able to buy music on a format that it’s going to sound its best on, so for our first couple of releases we felt this was heavyweight audiophile vinyl.” James explains, referencing the recent Tessera Skies/Ajimal split 12”. “We offer people that tangible product with amazing artwork, something that you can treasure and show off to your mates, keep and hold on to; not get lost in your iTunes library.”

“We would like to become a platform that bands and listeners will gravitate towards because we put out quality music.” Jonny says. “The idea right from the start was not to just become another label that puts out everything in the hope of making money (as we know, in reality, no one buys music anymore).”

“The artwork is held in as high esteem and importance as the audio at Mono.” James agrees. “So there’s a lot of quality control here, the music’s got to be great, and the art’s got to match that.”

“The artwork is held in as high esteem and importance as the audio at Mono”

With another heavyweight vinyl release due this month, this time a double A-side of remixes by electronic musician BXY of Mancunian pop duo The Ting Tings, the label are also releasing North East songwriter Trev Gibb’s debut album later in the year. Considering their eclectic tastes, what is it that peaks the boys’ interest?

“I think we all look for different things, but for me it’s just that the music excites me,” says Mick, “you have to be passionate about what you’re putting out otherwise it’s a waste of time.”

“It’s all about the tune,” James agrees. “It’s got to have a hairs on the back of your neck vibe…there’s a load of work that goes into getting a record out there, it becomes a labour of love, so you’ve got to be 100% into it.”

Certainly not ones to rest on their laurels, the Mono boys have grand plans for the future, as Jonny teases. “We want to keep evolving and broadening our horizons. I think the term ‘label’ will fade out soon; what we have planned in the near future is going to challenge what a traditional label is. Watch this space…”

Mono release The Ting Tings: The BXY Remixes on 28th August via heavyweight vinyl and download.

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