Ihouseu.com catches up with US songbird, Monique Bingham, who makes a rare appearance in the UK singing classic songs such as "Fools Got Nothin", Abstract Truth's "We Had A Thing", “Kissing Strangers” and “Do It” at the Groove Odyssey: House Legends party on Bank Holiday Sunday May 26th. Teamed up with producer DJ pal, Ralf Gum from Germany and Philly's DJ Spen, Monique talks about the buzz she still gets from perofrming, how she first got into dance music, some unforgettable memories and what clubbers can expect on the night.
Q: Are you looking forward to coming to play at the Groove Odyssey party on May 26th at Pacha and why?
Mos def! Haven't been to London in waaaay too long. An important part of my musical history is associated with that city so I am ready to have a good time! My road dog, Ralf Gum will be there too, and I have a lot of respect and real creative debt to pay Soul to Soul, so being on a bill with Jazzie B is pretty cool.
Q: Will you have any Exclusive new tracks to perform at this event and can you give us a hint of what to expect on the night?
I might pull a few tricks, but I'm gonna dig deep into the catalogue and pull out the old gems as well as some more recent ones.
Q: Do you still get the same buzz seeing the crowd appreciate you?
Oh for sure! To get their attention alone is a feat, but their approbation? That's a gift. Every performance is its own little hurdle. Every circumstance is a test and an opportunity to learn something and take it to the next gig. Sound issues, what was the mood before you went on, who's the drunk asshole in the crowd and are they upfront? Who's smoking right in our face? So many factors so when you get a crowd off it's more than gratifying.
Q: You sing some of the biggest dance anthems of the last 25 years and what are your proudest moments and why?
That's hard to break down. I have to say I never really spent too much time reflecting on what I've done because I am always so focused on what's coming up. The next gig, the next tune, next idea. But I am truly proud just to be a working musician, a working artist.
Q: Do you have an unforgettable memory during your singing career?
That's difficult for me but if I have to give a moment it might be a night in Soweto just last year. I was singing in a tent in the middle of that township that figured so prominently in the anti-apartheid movement with kids in their late teens and early twenties, the first generation born and raised in SA free you know. They were singing my music back to me and I was knocked out. To have their respect and appreciation means so much to me. I can't fully put it into words yet. It's sort of still dawning on me. I'm still wrapping my head around how the little college punk with the giant Keith Haring "Free South Africa" poster on her dorm room wall is now playing in Soweto on the regular. It's freaking crazy and beautiful.
Q: What are you currently working on and what’s coming up for you in the next few months in terms of releases, shows etc
I’m working with a bunch of people, and I don't want to give it away yet. The next few months will see the release of the first single off my upcoming album - that's my main focus now. Getting that damn album out of my head.
Q: How and when were you first infected by dance music?
Late 80s, early 90s in NYC. The scene was really different and more about counterculture. The music was different too, more diverse. After I graduated high school I discovered the NYC underground after hours spots and that was it. Even as a small child I was obsessed with the Village and the art scene, Basquiat and Andy Warhol. As soon as I was old enough or at least close to old enough, I started going to the clubs. There were painters and musicians, dancers and freaks of all stripes there and I could not get enough. It wasn't like plastic assholes and bottle svc.
Q: How did you get into singing?
It got into me. Who knows why but it's more like a compulsion. I realize that now.
Q: First record you ever bought?
On my own? Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" and Stephanie Mills "Sweet Sensation" at Sam Goody in the mall with my birthday money. And my older brother was appalled because neither of them were from New York lol. Just remembered that. I swore that "Rock with You" would be my favourite song for the rest of my life, and it still does sound pretty damn good.
Q: Earliest musical memory that springs to mind?
Doing a "Lisa n Wendy" type thing on stage with one of my friends in college the first time I performed at a Giant Step party in NYC. I was so afraid to be alone on stage I made her stand behind me with her arm around me while I sang. Girls are so silly sometimes.
Q: Who is the most inspirational and influential person in your life and why?
I'm inspired by everyone and anything, but l would think for most people, the most influential would be one's parents no? They decide what you're born into and that decides practically everything else. I have incorporated some of my mother's influence in what I do creatively for sure. She always carried herself as such a "lady" you know. She is so articulate and graceful. And so disturbed by all of my cursing and raunchy lyrics lol. But I have always tried to be raunchy as elegantly as possible because of her influence I think. I was interviewed in NYC by Kevin Hedge for his and Louie Vega's radio show on WBLS a few weeks ago and he said something like "throughout your career you have always presented yourself with class and dignity" and I thought, wow that's a nice trick to pull off. I curse like a longshoreman in every tune but somehow it still comes off as sort of sophisticated lol. Thanks mom!
Q; And is there anything fun or wacky or that we don’t know about you?
Everything you don't know about me is wacky. That's why you don't know!
Monique Bingham is the Exclusive Headline Live Guest at the Groove Odyssey: House Legends party on Bank Holiday Sunday May 26th alongside DJ Spen, Ralf Gum, Sean McCabe, Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) and Bobby & Steve at Pacha London. All info on www.grooveodyssey.com or facebook.com/grooveodyssey