Some have already obtained small successes, spending years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to shine and others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn heads. With this feature we shine a light on some of the most interesting new musical talents our tiny country has to offer.
When 25-year-old Mathieux Ngoie Kapaj aka MONARCQ released the music video for his first single ‘Bad Kidz’, it wasn’t a quick test to see if it would gain some interest. Quite the contrary, it was the final, conscious step of a long process of self-discovery. For years, this Ghent based young man was developing himself as a complete artist, writing his own lyrics, producing his own tracks and even directing his own videos. And the time has come for the world to see. With the drop of his ‘Human Zoo’ debut album on the way, MONARCQ is an artist to look out for.
So, take us to the beginning… Which were your first steps in the music biz?
Well, I’ve been making music for a while now. I used to be a part of the hip hop group Gangthelabel, and that’s where it all started for me. Until about 2014 we had a good thing going, but we had to put the project on hold. I felt I needed to get to know myself a little better before I could continue making music. So that’s what I did.
You have a distinct sonic and visual aesthetic, which makes us think you know exactly what you want to put out in the world. How long did it take for you to reach this point?
I virtually locked myself in for 4 years to work on my ideas. I didn’t release music in a hurry, because I wanted to avoid a situation in which I wouldn’t be 100% happy with the results a few years down the line. You have to learn about yourself, think about your abilities and listen to your emotions. It’s a complete learning process that you need to get through as an artist first.
Unlike other artists: you’re immediately releasing an album without many EP’s or singles beforehand…
Singles are valuable assets too of course, but often I miss some context with just a string of different hits. This stage name may be relatively new, but I’ve been creating music for a long time now. I have a lot to say and I just don’t think I would be able to tell my whole story in just one EP. That’s why me and my team around me decided to go straight for the album.
You may be a multidisciplinary artist who sings, dances, produces and directs; but MONARCQ is a team effort, right?
It’s a blessing to have a team around me who is as crazy as I am. We all share the same vision, energy and patience to create things that we can all proudly stand behind. We never limit ourselves to one certain idea, but instead approach projects with a truly open mind. I believe that is crucial for an effective and successful team effort. This too is a reason why it took me so long to come forward with new material. My team members always suggest new ideas, give feedback, so until a song is truly finished, we go all the way to pick out and apply those best ideas.
When we watched your video for ‘Bad Kidz’, it struck us how professional everything is for a debut single of an independent artist. From the choreography to the camera work: everything looks extremely well-prepared and perfectly executed.
I wanted the first MONARCQ video to be something out of the ordinary. That’s why we thought of this music video as a complete story that could borrow a lot of elements from a feature film. When we made the track we already had the idea to produce this kind of big visual project. I started pitching many ideas with my director of photography and after a long debate we had a clear plan. You can’t show everything in just one video, so I needed to make some hard choices. In hindsight, this was a very important lesson for me.
Where does the name MONARCQ actually come from?
There’s a very personal story behind it. In my teenage years I’ve never really had my own private space. My family didn’t have a lot of money and I used to sleep on a sofa in a tiny apartment for 4 years. I already then realized that when opportunity comes, I would grab it with both hands. Opportunity doesn’t come in material things, as these can be taken away from you. My ‘arc’ however, is something only I can ‘own’. Hence: ‘mon arc’, which became ‘MONARCQ’. I invite everyone to jump on my arc.
So what’s the plan from here?
If ‘Bad Kidz’ learned me one thing, it’s that I need to continue delivering quality output. I want to keep people on the edge of their seats and surround myself with people who can contribute to big projects with their particular talents. Hopefully, a live show can be ready by next year. As you may expect, I don’t want to do a simple performance of my songs. It needs to be a complete, dynamic live show. Besides my own musical projects, I’m producing music for other artists as well. I want to show the world that my love for music is not only about me.