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MUNK DUANE

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MUNK DUANE WHAT HAPPENED?

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I started playing Upright Bass in my elementary school orchestra when I was in 4th grade. I would later create a band for my school’s 8th grade talent show where I became the singer by default because everyone else was afraid. When I stepped on the stage in front of a full house for the very first time, the nerves and the rush were the most exhilarating feeling I had experienced in my young life. When we finished, the auditorium erupted and I’ve been hooked since. 

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

Hi, my name is Munk Duane. I’m a recording artist and film composer based out of Boston. Musical History? I’ve been at this for awhile now so there’s a lot to cram into that statement. Let me see if I can give you the cliff notes version… as mentioned above, I’ve been playing music since elementary school. I was fortunate to be in a school system with a strong Arts program, something many in the U.S. are now sadly lacking. I was in the school orchestra, stage band, jazz band and choir and competed in many state festivals and competitions.

I started performing with bands in clubs at 15 and attended Berklee College of Music immediately after high school was over. Four years there taught me to be a better vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, music technologist, and most importantly, I learned the value of perseverance and humility.  After Berklee, I worked at getting a record deal for the next 8 years, constantly writing and performing in the region to hone my craft.

When I was finally offered one, I turned it down. It was a terrible deal. Learning how to read a contract was also a valuable skill Berklee taught me. Instead, I invested in myself and hired a PR firm for a national radio and press campaign. This put me on the radar, enough so that I landed my first publishing deal. I went on to compose music for TV and film, starting with sync and later composing scores, all while continuing to release music as an artist independently.

What was life like for you before music?

I started when I was 9 so it’s actually a little tough to remember. I do remember feeling like an outcast. I was the new kid in the neighborhood, still awkward and quiet, which meant I got bullied pretty regularly. I was always into art, specifically drawing, which is how I spent most of my time before music came along. Music saved me.

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

Honestly my influences are absolutely all over the place so nailing this down to one song is damn near impossible. The closest I can narrow to is the “Purple Rain” album by Prince, which is essentially the seed of my musical identity.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I’ve had a pretty good year with a number of really great sync placements for shows on NBC, A&E, Max, NatGeo, Amazon Prime, Apple+ and more. That’s all production music I composed for Extreme Music, the production music arm of Sony Music Publishing.

As an artist, three of my songs were in a film called “The Getback” and one of those songs, “Myths”, became eligible for Grammy® consideration for Best Pop Solo Performance in the 66th Annual Grammy Awards. I just started working with AWAL (Sony) and my new single “We’ve Talked About This Before” is the first with them.

Whats the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?

Be your own artist. Trite as it sounds, just be authentically “you”. Everyone has influences but don’t chase trends. No one cares about another “sound alike”. 

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

I’ve met Neil Armstrong
I’ve met James Brown
I’ve met Stevie Wonder

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

Millions more fans

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

I’m pretty intentional about the language I choose because words are part of my art. I try to be respectful, even if I don’t agree with a given perspective. That said, I don’t believe living in fear is a productive way to exist as an artist OR as a human being. I’m open to learn, happy to listen and willing to change my position with a convincing argument.

I do have strong opinions. Social observation and commentary play a huge part in my lyrics. I think it’s damn near impossible to avoid insulting someone these days. We’re so tribal in 2024 that I’m genuinely skeptical of the agenda for that “hurt” most of the time anyway.  I don’t worry about it. 

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?

I do not. I’m not a fan of cynicism and I refuse to let it drive my philosophy. I think we have enough real world, provable, evidence-based problems to solve without going out of our way to subscribe to the fantastic and paper thin. It’s a matter of triage.

Prioritize by level of urgency and benefit. Critical Thinking and our collective emotional intelligence as a society is becoming endangered and in the vacuum of its absence, endangers civility and evolution. The perpetuation of Confirmation Bias by partisan “news media” outlets strips our ability to recognize and react to evidence as it updates, creating a reality distortion field. Add the weaponization of disinformation to the mix and trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge and it’s all just exhaustingly pedantic.

What was the worst experience on stage?

The day I learned my limits for alcohol consumption during a performance. 

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.

I had a day gig for a decade working in national security.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

I at once, sound like myself as well as my identifiable influences. 

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

My new song “We’ve Talked About This Before” highlights the difficulty of dealing with loved ones as they age, and leaning into new expressions of love through patience. Conversation loops become common place, especially with dementia patients.

They become stuck on repeat and frequently address the same topic multiple times in a single conversation. The new song is about trying to see the loop like a “needle skipping on your favorite song” and just allowing it to play out like it’s the first time you’ve heard the story, because sadly, it may soon be the last.

What was the recording process like?

I wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the song myself at my studio Bad Stella. I like to work alone. I tend to move quickly and when I have to stop and explain or debate while in the middle of the process, I tend to the loose the spark of the initial idea and find myself having to make up creative ground.

I do work with an incredible Mastering engineer however. Brian Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering in Los Angeles, who worked on Grammy® winning releases for The Black Keys, Lizzo, and the soundtrack to “The Greatest Showman”, as well as Elvis Costello, Arctic Monkeys, Chet Faker and more. Brian is my “not so secret weapon”.

Presave HERE

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?

The topic of this song cuts super deep and personal. I rewrote the lyrics several times before getting to a metaphor I felt explained the feeling without diminishing it.

Would you change anything now its finished?

I would change things until my grave. I’m a perfectionist and I can always hear areas for improvement. I’ve learned a lot about “perfection being the enemy of the good” and treating the art of recording like a Polaroid. It’s OK for it to just be that moment in time. Onward.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Listen to music. Share music. Tell everyone you know why you feel a way about it. Tell the artist it meant something to you. As connected as we all are “technically”, I think the reality is we feel pretty isolated from the substance of feeling and thought these days. Everyone is on the socials putting up their best facade and that is merely lacquer. Appreciate with intent and shout it to the rooftops. 

FOLLOW HERE // Presave HERE

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