Originally posted on 11 September 2008:
The enigmatic Shugmonkey managed to stand still for more than 2 seconds to talk to Vainzine. He is a wonderful artist / designer and musician and has rather a lot to say for himself.
On first meeting Shug you would be forgiven in thinking you just stepped inside a Dickens novel. The cocky, mischievous street urchin comes shining through and in a pub, club or house party you need only look for a group of bodies huddled around an energetic little character. Reeling off tales of near scrapes, insane adventures and good times had. The yarns told with a cheeky wit backed by animated hand movements and exaggerated impressions of the characters he's known over the years. His audience always left in stitches and with an image of a fiery little individual ingrained in the mind. Shug is always full of surprises and once you get past the naughty wideboy persona you enter a whole new level of character.
His interests are vast. Lord Bryon, Byzantium, The 18th Century Underworld, World War One, the paranormal, 1920-30's gangsters and silent film stars to name just a few. His house is stacked with books, CDs and records. Obsessive collections of so many genres and to top that his music studio is crammed with all varieties of keyboards, drum machines and noise making equipment. Sketchbooks and paper are all around filled with ideas and doodles. You start to get an idea of what Shug is actually about.
In 1999 Shug graduated from art school with a B.A. (Hons) degree in Graphic Design/Illustration. While at art school he learnt about making electronic music from other students. Seeing the use of the computer as a serious tool in the future of art and music, Shug set off creating under the name of shugmonkey (taken from an East Anglian legend, the Shug Monkey.) Shug is known for his illustration. Blending old and new, East and West, he is at times hard to pin down for artwork. Working on his emotions and feelings rather than a production line approach, Shug often turns down commissions due to the fact that he ain't into to at the moment.
His music is also a varied pallet. World fusion, hip hop, techno, acid house and anything else he feels in the mood for. Adding his own distinctive take on all he does it's clear he belongs to no scene and is seriously underground. "If someone suggested we do a track that consisted of a Romany brass band, Berber singers, Gamelan orchestra and a Mongolian throat artist doing the bass, I'd be up for that ha! You have to play around you know, it's creatively healthy but so many people worry about fitting in, they don't try other stuff out of fear of being rejected or some crap." Shug's list of admirers spread from the local Joe on the street to DJ's, fellow producers, bands, singers, dancers and actresses. His street, no messing about attitude has kept him down to earth and respected. Like the artwork, he has turned down opportunities in the music world he simply wasn't into. When he says it's not about the money, you truly believe the little big man.
Shug is constantly busy creating. He hooked up with world fusion giants Transglobal Underground last year to add a few vocals to a track from their latest album. From that, and with TGU member Hamid Mantu, the pair went on to produce a track for a Tribal bellydance compilation compiled by DJ Phil Meadley. The duo are currently working on a new track for another compilation. Shug is also making more acid and rave themed music which he grew up with as a teenager. His style gives a nod more to the oldskool while adding his own take on things. "Some producers are doing some wicked stuff with Acid at the moment. Yeah ok with IDM comes a few rich blokes at times trying to be geezers but I'm old skool and am happy with that. Baby Ford, Bizarre Inc, 808 State and Altern 8, you now what I mean? To me that type of music was about having a good time out and forgetting the daily grind. That's what I like to think of when I make it but as far as the IDM vibe goes, big ups to the people mashing up the original format."
Although Shug's life seems to be taken up in a creative tidal wave more often than not, there is one thing that always remains. If you meet him and you get on and it's pretty hard not to get on with him, he will always take the time to stop and talk. He likes nothing more than a good laugh. He doesn't play the artist, he was born it and if anything he does play, then it's the fool, but makes sure we all have a good time in dong so. It's true in saying never judge a book by its cover.
Previous Musical Inspirations can be found by clicking the links below: