Claude “Mon$tr” Jr. was born in Lewisville, Texas. He grew up in a military family surrounded by biker culture with heavy rock and grunge influences. Mon$tr opposes societal norms and believes in freedom of choice and acceptance of responsibility, seeking to inspire others to take risks and enjoy the moment. His latest single, now available on all major streaming platforms, including SPOTIFY, is entitled “Used To Know”.
- Can you tell us a little bit about where you come from and how you got started making music?
Mon$tr: I was born and raised in the Dallas area by my parents, Claude and Catherine Blinov Sr. Both had a very deep love of music from a young age, and I spent much of my younger years watching my dad play many different genres of music. From a young age I had a passion for rock n’ roll, and being my parent’s favorite genre, they played it (both on the radio and with instruments) all the time! When I got into middle school I began to fall in love with hip-hop music, which put into literal words a lot of what I had been surrounded by in my early childhood. It was about this time that an app called “RapChat” became popular, following the influence of my friends I started posting diss-tracks on my friends, which would go back and forth for a while around school. When the trend died down, I started experimenting with other styles and beats on the app, receiving mass criticism, I eventually stopped posting on the app. But it lit a fire in me, and that brought me to audacity with a Logitech headset.
- Have you had formal training or are you self-taught?
Mon$tr: When I was younger I received classical training for guitar, but I always wanted to learn rock music, so it taught me the basics, but at a very slow pace. (This is mostly because of my lack of interest in classical music at the time, which I now regret LOL) I also had a very passionate music teacher at my elementary school, named Mrs. Rider, who encouraged my endeavors with guitar, pushed me to learn and try new instruments, and eventually convinced me to join band. From there I was in band until my (technical) Jr. year of high school, met with many amazing educators who were very frustrated with my potential when considering my constant behavioral problems. However since about the time I was 14, I had my sights set on my music career, which led me away from school and therefore away from band a lot of the time.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Mon$tr: Pink Floyd and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hands down the most influential bands in my life. I fell in love with rock music because of the first two songs off of “Stadium Arcadium,” RHCP’s early 2000’s hit album, “Hey Oh,” and “Dani California,” and was also very heavily exposed to Pink Floyd by my father. Throughout the years songs like “Wish You Were Here,” and “High Hopes,” always helped me hang on despite trying times coming around.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Mon$tr: As an artist, I try to play on the emotions and lesion I feel and learn with “Time.” (Another great Pink Floyd song) I utilize my rock and rap influences in a way that allows them to coincide with the pop sound of the day, in an effort to target the most universal demographic I can, as I speak on issues that every human faces, and lessons that the whole population could either benefit from or debate about, as at the end of the day it truly is all perception.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Mon$tr: I was a “lil rapper” through and through. I tried to emulate every song I heard. I saw rap as the easiest way to learn my way around DAW’s and audio engineering. Then, when I was about 13 or 14, I became a straight Lil Peep copycat, because his music was the first music to come from the hip-hop world that I felt was truly on par with rock n’ roll. I had my differences of course, but I think for the most part I sounded like a wannabe Peep. (Aside from maybe 2 or 3 songs I had made that were more closely tied to the style I have now, and very much so ahead of their time) Now that I am more confident in my abilities, I can vibe with a larger variety of music and create as so. I wouldn’t say that I have found my “unique” style yet, however I believe I am on the right track.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Mon$tr: I don’t think that is something I can really speak on yet. Those who see will see, and those who don’t won’t. Music is very subjective, so I hope those who find what they find within it were seeking what they found when they found it. I believe there is always a higher purpose with everything we do, and I believe the same can be said about my music, however I don’t think now is the time for that side of the music.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that it will be appreciated by a specific audience?
Mon$tr: I do both, I had to try to make what other people like for a very long time before I figured out how to tie it in with what I like. And as I said previously, I do not believe that my music is yet to a point where it is exactly what I want it to be, but recently I have been implementing more and more of the sounds I like into my music, and seeing where I can take it.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you most often start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed musical piece? Do you usually start with a beat, a narrative in your head, or a melody?
Mon$tr: I start all over the place. Sometimes I’ll start with a riff, sometimes a drum pattern, sometimes a chorus, and sometimes a single line that ends up in the middle of the second verse. It mostly depends on the idea I started with, and where I end up taking that idea. You can never really know until you’re doing it.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your musical career, or life, so far?
Mon$tr: The death of my godfather, Earl Thames. A marine and a father. My family.
- On the other hand what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Mon$tr: Ironically enough, the time following Earl’s passing. My whole family was torn apart by his death, and though I was not coping well myself, I managed to start frequently preforming and even took it cross country. A lot of growth happened for me as an artist once I had had my first tastes of the life on the road.
- How would you describe the sound and style of your new single “Used to Know” to any potential fan?
Mon$tr: Its pop music. But it’s also rock music and rap music, all at once. Get lit with your depression, let’s cry and mosh at the same time.
- Where did the original idea and inspiration behind “Used to Know” come from, and what is overarching theme and message of the song?
Mon$tr: As you grow older you learn more and more. “Used to Know,” is an idiom I used to describe the fleeting youth we all inherently experience. The many mental and moral battles we have with ourselves afflicted and impacted by the outside world, along with how we cope and grow beyond them. The message? Time keeps on slippin. How are you spending it?
- Did you use any particular sounds and/or recording techniques on this song, and what were the main compositional, performance or production challenges you came across on “Used to Know”?
Mon$tr: None but only because I paid people… I have found that as an artist my skillset and resources are often limited, so when I struggle for creativity, means, or otherwise, I just take it where it needs to go. Platzus recorded and engineered this one for me at Elevate Studios in Austin, Texas, and I must say he KILLED it.
- Where do you do most of your recording and production work? And is that where you recorded your new single “Used to Know”?
Mon$tr: I mostly record at Elevate Recording Studios in Austin, Tx, and Legacy Studios in Dallas, Tx. I did my upcoming single, “Used to Know” at Elavate with Plat.
- Did your initial artistic vision for the song change at any time during recording, or did you pretty much stick to what you had in mind from the outset?
Mon$tr: I completely rearranged the song the day we recorded. I wasn’t feeling the vibe I had created, so I just took what I had and arranged it into what it is, which did not take as long as recording it. Autotune saved me that day.
- How essential do you think video and visual media is in relation to your songs, and music in general?
Mon$tr: Absolutely necessary. The human attention span is constantly becoming closer and closer to that of a nat, so any stimulation that can be provided to solidify the music, brand, emotions, and thoughts inside of someone’s head is a must.
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Mon$tr: I love music. When I was in band I would practice for 8 hours a day outside of whatever we were doing as a group, same thing when I was in a metal band, same thing before and after. I love every aspect of the music from the creation to the business.
- If the name ‘Mon$tr’ came up in a conversation among music fans, alongside which other artists would you like to be associated in that conversation?
Mon$tr: I think I would be associated with Juice WRLD, Lil Peep, and Post Malone most notably. Those three are big names right now and a very large part of my musical influence. I would also be brought up in conversations regarding my friends, such as Jamion Burnz and J. Laquez.
- Do you ever collaborate, or consider collaborating with any other artists in the future? And if you could choose to perform alongside any internationally recognized artist right now, who would that be?
Mon$tr: Yes, collaboration is one of my favorite things. I always grow so much as a musician when I am working side by side with other musicians, it’s sorta like a checkpoint in a video game, and the results can oftentimes be out of this world, as the energy and vibrations within the room have the potential to feed off of each other and rise to a level which might not have been hit otherwise. I think that ties back into the live aspects of rock music, and why it was so impactful for so long as a genre, because of the musicians’ auras interacting and building off of each other.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Mon$tr: Impacting people’s lives. Whether I give them something that changes their mood or something they can use to change their lives. Being able to connect with someone and make a difference for that one person at that one moment in time is everything. My goal is to scale that as much as I can. More specifically my short term goals include gaining more traction on a national level, and getting back on stage at a state level. From there to scale as well. Growth and consistency are the key!