Jarrod Gosling and Dean Honer discuss songwriting, horror flicks and GForce virtual instruments
It’s refreshingly entertaining to talk with messers Jarrod Gosling and Dean Honer of avant-garde electronica duo I Monster. Their offbeat sense of humor—along with a unique musical style that incorporates scratchy jazz samples, garbled vocals, and old-school synth tones—has set these Sheffield, UK-based producers apart and propelled them to international fame. Using two compatible production studios stocked with GForce virtual instruments, Gosling and Honer tap into their collective imagination to produce some of the strangest, most inventive electronic music that you’ll ever hear.
How did you meet and become I Monster?
Jarrod: We met in the music lending section of Sheffield Central Library during the age of steam.
Dean: We had a chat and found that we were both fans of Warp Records, Kraftwerk and other electronic music. We both had little home studios so we decided to try and make some tunes together.
Is it true that the band is named after a horror film?
Dean: Yes. We are both big fans of British horror films. We share childhood memories of sneaking downstairs late at night to watch Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in action.
What is the songwriting process like for I Monster?
Jarrod: We both have compatible studios, so we work on stuff individually and bring our ideas together for the cooking pot.
Dean: We try to play as many parts as we can ourselves, but sometimes we bring in vocalists, guitarists, drummers and woodwind players to help us out.
Jarrod: Sound design is also very important. A sound or instrument can influence a whole lyric or track. Woodwind sounds can take you straight to another time and place and influence everything that follows. For me it's usually an adventure with dragons, ladies fair and an evil overlord. We tend to work hard on how the track should sound—building up walls of sound and texture. Sometimes we tear them down and start again if it's not quite right.
How do the GForce virtual instruments fit into your studio?
Dean: The GForce instruments get a lot of use in the I Monster world. We loved the old M-Tron—which appears on many I Monster tunes—so we obviously love the new M-Tron Pro. Virtual String Machine is also fantastic. It’s easy to call up those Joy Division- and Air-type atmospheres. It’s a great emulation, but also very flexible as a synth in its own right.
How do you enjoy working with the new M-Tron Pro?
Dean: It’s so nice to have the extra sounds, lovely-sounding filters and the ability to easily layer up two sounds. The addition of modulation, multiple filters and envelopes is great for creating totally new sounds or just tweaking the classic sounds to fit better into an arrangement. The delay line and ensemble are also very useful. The layout is very clear and simple, even for a pair of doughnuts like us.
Jarrod: The original M-Tron was dead easy. Although the new M-Tron Pro has more features, it's still dead easy. We're going to have a lot of fun with it on the next recordings. As Vincent Price said in the movie Theatre Of Blood, "Can't wait to get my hands on it!"
On your website and album covers, there aren’t any photos of you. Do you really exist?
Jarrod: No. We are virtual plug-in humanoids.
Visit imonstermusic.com for information about the latest I Monster releases.