The quiet eruption of mono_sono

mono_sono, or Jarred Parenzee as he’s known to the taxman, has been quietly erupting in the shadows of the local electronica landscape. A young veteran of the Cape Town bass music scene of the early to mid 2000s, he’s spent over a decade collecting and making music and crafting his sound. His body of work as a DJ/producer ranges from Drum n Bass and footwork to ambient downbeat and lo-fi. He’s got a conspicuous fragility about his nature and accents of ethnic and sexual ambiguity in his look. He’s sort of the personification of the music he makes and the music more and more producers embodied by the so called beat scene are making everyday. He’s amorphous, soluble, undefined. He represents the kaleidoscopic vagueness of contemporary art and music; and more aptly, the globalised world.

mono_sono by Raine Parenzee (1)

We sat down with the enigmatic future beats producer to discuss his music, influences and insights on the climate of the scene. “So mono_sono was started as an avatar for creating some new instrumental kwaito I was conceptualising. Like how could I combine “IDM” (music genre swear word), hip hop and kwaito. Never really got anywhere to be honest. I was also hugely into Drum n Bass, so I made lots of that and was able to actually finish some tracks. I had also made some hip-hop with some friends. I guess that was the start really; my friend was a rapper and I made beats and so it goes. I was still living in Cape Town at this stage,” explains Jarred.

Cape Town has always been a cultural melting pot, largely populated by transitory tribes of students and tourists. It’s a holographic city in many ways. In the early to mid 2000s it became a melting pot for electronic music genres as well and Jarred had a front row seat to a musical renaissance. “African Dope and the early 2000s ZA Electronics was a huge inspiration including 7Ark Aka Considerate Builders Scheme Aka Dj High Tech, Markus Wormstorm, Kalahari Surfers, etc. Mostly a show on Bush Radio (Cape Town 89.5FM) that played a large selection of electronica. Dubstep was also big; funnily it did more for dance music that it did for itself and also affirmed that none of this music exists in a bubble.”

The Cape beat scene has cultivated an army of pioneering artists who’ve become globally influential contributors to this amorphous subculture/genre due to the amorphous holographic nature of the city itself. It’s therefore quite befitting that this city was the birthplace of his sound. “‘Choosing’ a sound has been the most interesting and frustrating part of music. First you want to show your influences, then you want to hide them and then, well, you just get on with things,” Jarred says.

His beats sound like a cornucopia of genres: minimal techno, jungle, kwaito, footwork, hip-hop and ambience. He utilises programs, analogue synthesizers and field recordings to serve as his palette to create tripped out avant-garde dance music. Jarred’s sound, whether as mono_sono or as his alter ego 0_0_0_0 (pronounced faces), is distinctly cosmopolitan. He’s travelled to quite a few beat scene landmark cities including London and Berlin with the primary motive of musical exploration: “Being on the periphery of a few scenes has made me wish the lines could dissolve or be more flexible. The inherited “rules” of certain scenes have been vital in building them up while being quite restrictive in what lines can be shifted. Everything is so fragmented and I like it that way.”

After his exodus from Cape Town to Pretoria in 2006 he was forced to evolve into solitude. Pretoria is a city of orderly lonely lives; the place where everyone goes to be alone, together. If Cape Town is a hologram then Pretoria is an oil painting. Quiet cities attract even quieter souls. This is why it’s also a city which breeds hermitic and often introverted beat makers like mono_sono and others including Phyzisist, Watermark High, Jacob Izreal, Buli and Chee… “I think moving from Cape Town (10 years in a few months) to Pretoria was quite a catalyst, as I was moving away from a scene I was trying to break into i.e. the Cape Town DnB scene. It meant I had to be more active to maintain involvement. But it also gave me freedom of not having to identify with a certain town’s “sound”. The fact that my communication was mostly through instant messaging/forums, MySpace and music blogs should not be understated. I’ve mostly interacted with music from my bedroom to be honest. I would say though that PTA has had the biggest influence; seeing the electronic scene go from relative obscurity around 2009 to ubiquity in 2016 was quite interesting. Growth is always great to see,” he reflects.

Besides being a producer and DJ, Parenzee is a studious vinyl collector. I asked him what just landed in his crates right now. “Just found Steve Reich/Pat Metheny – Different trains/Electric Counterpoint for R5. Amazing piece of music. Bjork – Vulnicura, Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert Rotunda, Holly Herndon – Platform, Robert Hood – Internal Empire, Drexciya – The Journey Home, Vietcong – Vietcong.”

After having performed and put out music as mono_sono for almost a decade he began exploring his more lo-fi side under his 0_0_0_0 alter ego. “0_0_0_0 is more dance floor and a bit looser. To be honest, it was mostly a reset button, creatively. I could experiment with new styles/sounds/structures. Which unsurprisingly fed back into mono_sono. Also, is more informed by garage/techno/house and the rest of the continuum,” explains Jarred.

He’s also at the foundational stages of starting his own indie label. A move forming out of the frustrations many local experimental music acts face in this country. “So having put music out on few labels, while still sitting on loads of material and having friends in a similar position, I decided it would be great have my (our) own label. The existential crisis that comes along with this decision can be quite overwhelming but valuable. In any case, it will be a vehicle for any creative projects we may have – music forming a large part of those projects. We’ve got some core artists/friends who we’ll be working with initially, but I’m quite excited to work with new people. Oh, it will be called the negative space. Haven’t got anything out soon, but I’ve put together a mix of tracks that represent some of the things I’m doing as 0_0_0_0.”

You can listen to his mix now, exclusively for 10and5 readers. Enjoy!

Images by Raine Parenzee.

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