Signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label and featuring three failed pop stars,
Formed in 2010, keyboardist Rufio Sandilands and drummer Rocky Morris had already worked together in flop Level 42-esque band Palladium, a retro funk-pop outfit inspired by the guilty pleasures of the 80s who were far more about the guilty than the pleasure, and as part of a jazz fusion group alongside acclaimed soulman Michael Kiwunaka.
But it was only when they teamed up with another artist who never lived up to his potential that Monsta began to take shape. A former support act for Amy Winehouse and Mary J. Blige, Bryn Christopher briefly tapped into the whole nostalgic soul-pop scene with the excellent UK Top 40 single, “Smilin’,” back in 2008 but had been largely forgotten ever since parent album, My World, sunk without a trace.
However, having reinvented himself under the guise of Skaar, Christopher’s powerhouse vocal abilities, which at their best recall the likes of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, have now found a more suitable accompaniment in the shape of Sandilands and Morris’ warped dubstep production.
Released last year, Monsta’s self-titled debut E.P. proved that although they may have jumped into bed with Grammy-winning producer Skrillex, they’re not interested in pursuing a similar bro-step path. Free from the subwoofer bass-lines that have plagued their label boss’s output, the likes of “Messiah” and “Where Did I Go” are far more organic affairs which sound like Christopher’s classic 60s soul collection has been remixed by Chase and Status.
They’ve already scored a minor hit with the lead single, “Holdin’ On,” in their homeland, unfortunately with a dreadful Skrillex & Nero remix which hammers every ounce of subtlety out of the original. But if they can steer clear of any further interference from Mr. Moore, then Monsta’s debut album, due out later this year, should be a very interesting creature.