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I Monster "The video was 30, 40 grand or something, which nowadays is ridiculous"

We speak to the Sheffield duo of Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling ahead of a homecoming show to mark 20 years since landmark album Neveroddoreven.


Dean Honer says 'Who Is She?' was "discovered at the right time."

I Monster.

A few weeks ago, in a heroic attempt to create usable space in a room that for years has been home to a hoarder’s cache of ephemera, one of the first artefacts to make its bid for freedom was a distinctly designed CD. Paradoxically prompting evocative memories from 23 years ago, ‘Daydream In Blue’ maintains an alluring and endearing presence after all this time.

I Monster, the esoteric electronic vehicle for Sheffield scene stalwarts Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling, have once again captured the global imagination with ‘Who Is She?’, racking up over 15 million streams. This recent recognition coincides with the re-release of their second album Neveroddoreven, and a return to live performance.

Ahead of their Leadmill show next Friday, we asked Honer and Gosling about salvaging tracks from old Macs, plans for new material, and what it’s like to go viral.

What’s it like to be TikTok famous?

Jarrod Gosling: We were planning to reissue the album anyway, it’s the 20th anniversary. It was put on vinyl for the first time a few years ago because it was never on vinyl originally. Then the label put it out, and it sold out pretty quickly. Lots of people since have been asking us to do it. So we were always thinking about redoing it, and it just coincided with this TikTok thing.

Why do you think it’s resonated with a TikTok audience?

Dean Honer: We don’t know; it’s a completely viral thing. There wasn't any marketing behind it from our end, or from the label. We understand why it's grown – we always thought it was a good tune, and we always thought it should have been a bigger single then it was, really. We did a really expensive video for it, the video was 30, 40 grand or something, which nowadays is ridiculous. A band wouldn’t spend that now unless you’re Adele or something.

You do have a distinct and unusual sound. Is it this that’s captured a new generation’s imagination?

DH: Maybe. We bought samplers when the technology become available and affordable in the nineties and a little computer to sequence it with. We were sampling easy listening records but then mixing them with synthesisers and vocoders and more futuristic sounds, so I think we always wanted to have our own sound. And ‘Who Is She?’, along with ‘Daydream’ – that's kind of the epitome of what that sound was.

JG: I think because of the lyric, “Who is she?” as well to be honest, in terms of the TikTok success.

DH: It’s just luck – it’s the zeitgeist isn’t it. It was discovered at the right time. If it was ten years ago, it might not have been the same.

Does the continuing use of ‘Daydream In Blue’ in films and adverts surprise you?

DH: I suppose it is surprising that advertisers or films choose the tracks. Especially if the tracks are sample heavy like ‘Daydream’ – you've actually got the sound of a massive choir and an orchestra and stuff, which is different to a band or a guitar player. Maybe it’s got a filmic nature.

JG: It’s got a familiar sound to it. You see a lot of comments from people who’ve got it wrong: “same sample as Portishead.” It's not. It's because it's a similar era, and it’s got strings on it, but it's not the same at all. A descending bassline is quite a familiar, evocative sound.

DH: ‘Daydream’ has been the main one, but a track called ‘Heaven’ got used on some films.

JG: ‘The Blue Wrath’ got used on Shaun of the Dead, which we thought was a student film. “It's not a massive budget or pay-out.” Okay yeah, you can use it, great. Didn't think much of it. Then I read in a newspaper – The Star or something, I’ve still got the cutting – and found out it was Simon Pegg from Spaced. So it's them that are doing the film, alright! It's actually probably a cooler film that we thought it would be. It was just being in the right place at the right time with that track, apparently.

You must be looking forward to taking I Monster on the road again. When’s the last time you played live?

JG: Last time we did a sort of gig was about ten years ago as part of Tramlines at the City Hall. Apart from that, it’s probably 2005 or 2006.

Is it difficult to get back into the material after all that time?

I monster cover

DH: We're not taking out a full band – it's gonna be Jarod and myself and we've got two vocalists, a girl called Hannah who’s from Bradford but lives in London now. And she was a live vocalist for The Specials and Primal Scream over the last few years. And then there's another vocalist-guitarist called Jenny Green. So we've got just those two and us two.

There's a bit of stuff on backing track. The tough thing about getting it together was that we don't have the files to those songs, because some of them were done on an Atari ST and very old Macs that we haven't got anymore. So we’ve had to salvage, resample or recreate things. We’ve got all of our visuals sorted out, we’ve got the technology sorted out, we can just go and do it.

And you’re also working on some new tracks?

JG: We actually started working on a new album before this tour thing. We knew we were gonna reissue the album, but we’ve got loads of new tracks that we're working on. Not quite finished, some more finished than others. But we’ve had to put that to one side. We'll jump back on that again when we get chance.

Accessibility info

The Leadmill is a step-free venue located on ground floor level, with disabled toilets. You can find more information about accessibility at the venue on their website.

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