MONIQUE BINGHAM

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BIOGRAPHY

Biography

Monique’s career began at an impromptu session at Francois Kevorkian’s infamous Axis Studios. Gordon Clay (a.k.a. Nappy G) of Groove Collective was working on a spoken word collaboration with Dana Vlcek, bandleader for Abstract Truth. They needed a vocalist to write and perform a record in less than a week. Gordon called Monique. The session lasted less than an hour. The tune was “Like Water.” Dana immediately asked her to join the band as lead vocalist and writer. She was indelibly influenced by the collective of musicians whose resumes included stints with the likes of the Sun RA, Chaka Khan and Lester Bowie. The first single from their debut EP was “Get Another Plan” released on Francois K’s Wave music label. The record garnished immense critical acclaim and was licensed by Mr. Gilles Peterson for his UK imprint, “Talkin Loud” in 1996. In 1998 Abstract Truth released a follow up single “We Had a Thing”, penned and performed by Monique. A soulful house remix of the tune by Mathias “Matty” Heilbronn injected it into the veins of the underground. Its inclusion on countless compilations, including “Body and Soul NYC” and Defected’s/Jazzy Jeff “In the House” has made it a bonafide dance floor classic and solidified Monique’s place in underground music history. She went on to write and perform “Pure” with Naked Music’s Blue Six in 2000. This was the first of her solo recordings and was an international success in serious set rotation by the likes of Louie Vega. Her first UK release, “Don’t You Love Me” with Sir Piers’ on his Curious label in 2002 hit No. 2 on DJ Mag’s Hype Chart. She officially had our attention. “Matty Heilbronn called me up in ’03 and said very succinctly, “I heard that song you did with Piers. I’m jealous. Let’s make a record.” They did. “Go-Getter”, released by Papa Records in April 2004, hit No. 6 on DJ Mag’s Hype chart and is arguably one of Monique’s most eloquent tunes. The two have been collaborating ever since.

In early 2003 legendary Maestro Timmy Regisford’s Club Shelter contacted Monique for a live PA. Monique had performed primarily with Abstract Truth, a 7–10 piece live band. Track dates had seemed awkward and unnatural at that point. But the intense energy she felt from the Shelter family that night sparked a real turning point in her career. “After that, I started fiddling with the idea of writing all kinds of tunes. I used to be very selfish when I wrote lyrics. But after feeling their energy, I was hooked. I started thinking, at least lyrically about people other than myself. I started putting myself in the skin of the kinds of folks who were out there dancing to my $hit at 5:30 in the morning. I had never done that before because I had never really seen them before.” She also began working with Joe B of Hisa Ishioka’s Kingstreet label. Joe helped arrange for Monique to write for the Japanese production act Studio Apartment’s 2004 album, “World Line”. Hisa released a ricanstructed remix of “Flight” by Mr. Frankie Feliciano in November 2004 on Kingstreet and it was instantly picked up for several compilations including Danny Krivit “In the House and “Soulheaven presents Blaze.” Also in 2004 Japanese nu-jazz wonder producer, Okada Taxi aka Kanoe, included Monique’s “Come and Live with Me” on his album “Wise Retrogression.” In addition to banging her records every Saturday at his after-hours institution, (Timmy once played “Flight” 7 times in one night); Regisford also introduced her to Quentin “Epod” Harris. Her collaborations with the 2004 House Music Award nominee include “Poor People” and “You Can't Have New York.” (the latter to be released by Freddy Sanon’s Shelter Records in 2005) Summer 2005 brings the release of the infectiously funky delightfully sleazy follow up with Sir Piers, “Fool’s Got Nothin’” which hit No. 6 on DJ Mag’s Hype Chart. Having been compared to everyone from Sade to Shirley Bassey it’s difficult to conveniently slide what Monique is doing into a particular slot. The variety and depth of her discography would leave one to believe that’s the point.

“The records I’ve been involved with are distinct from most of what’s out there as well as from each other. I have yet to release an album. My discog is a list of releases with a bunch different people for a bunch of different labels at a bunch of different times in my life. Naturally there is a distinction between each one. And there should be. If you’re going to call yourself a musician and have the nerve to expect people to pay you for your ideas, they better be good ones. And they better be more yours than anyone else’s. I think it stinks hearing the same type of record come from the same type of artist. I like courageous people in life and in art. I don’t want to make records everyone’s already heard before. Songs are just sonic expressions of abstract thought. When people are alone in their heads, everything they come up with is original. Every idea is the birth of a completely new abstraction never to be repeated or fully imitated in exactly that way ever again. If music is just a series of thoughts then no two songs should sound the same either. Keeping your balance on the tight rope between being derivative and being a thief. Between having a style and being repetitive or redundant. That’s the hard part. That is the challenge.”