What does this genre-bending powerhouse have in store for us at Future Music Festival?
For Rufio Sandilands of London-based trio I See Monstas – over here this month to play at Future Music Festival – worldwide success on the EDM charts seems to have happened almost by accident.
“We’d never even been to a rave until we played at one,” says Rufio. “We’d been listening to club music, but also to bands like Yes, Led Zeppelin and Otis Redding. We thought it would be amazing if we could make music that sounded like them. But then, we listened to tracks by Knife Party or Skrillex, and we wanted to create something that combined them together.”
The result was their 2012 dance banger, ‘Holdin’ On’, which quickly got the band signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label, and their track remixed by the likes of Skrillex and Nero. Their 2013 EP Evolution represents a progression into many other forms of dance music, from '90s breakbeat to techno and house, while maintaining the bombast of drum and bass.
“If you think about when jazz became popular in the '60s, people started messing around with the genre, and created their own stuff,” Rufio explains. “People will bring their own tastes to dance music.”
Perhaps the most daring element that I See Monstas have brought to the table is their live singer Skaar, with his soulful, androgynous vocals. “We love featured vocalists, but it wasn’t even a decision to have Skaar in the band as our singer,” says Rufio. “He’s got an amazing voice, and it gives our songs an iconic sound that people will recognise us by.”
Skaar’s live performances are part of the band’s commitment to remain a primarily live act. “We write music that’s different every time for people; we remix our own work, and we all play live on stage. There’s something about a live act as opposed to a DJ set that people really respond to.”
And respond they have: when touring recently with electro-house duo Knife Party and Swedish House Mafia, the trio left crowds astonished by their captivating live drumming, singing and movement. Under the Melbourne sun at Future, it’s hard to imagine that audiences won’t experience the same ruthless energy that I See Monstas have come to be known for.
Top five: Must-hear acts at Future
Maya Jane Coles
This UK house DJ averts commercial dance charts but lights up the underground with her deep slow-burning grooves.
Fresh from co-producing the blistering ‘Black Skinhead’ on Kanye West’s Yeezus album, this French techno DJ has gained a fearsome reputation for his brutal, energetic sets.
When listening to his international chart-topping club banger ‘Animals’, you just can’t help thinking – how can a kid born in 1996 be so ridiculously talented?
Will our much-loved Aussies deliver the blissed-out spiritual experience that vocalist Dan Whitford sung about on their recent Free Your Mind album?
Electro-house may be his ‘thing’, but this North Carolina technical wunderkind always has a few surprises up his sleeve.
Future Music Festival, Flemington Racecourse, Sun 9 Mar.