MDC Interview#40 "Monolog"

Danish artist mads lindgren aka monolog is a traveller in sound both figuratively and across the European continent, working intensely in the studio and on stage and taking care of various jobs in the audio industry. The musical activities started as a guitar player in various metal bands in the 90’s, but with distinct reference to the jazz guitar he grew up with. this combination resulted in an aggressive sound with complex harmonic structures, continuing into experiments in modern jazz with the vestbirk noiz ensemble playing kitchen utensils, power drills, ping pong balls and Akai samplers.

In 1999 he gave birth to monolog, a solo project coloured by the sound of his prior sonic endeavours, but adding an distinct experimental angle to his music production. At the same time gaining experience as a drum’n’bass dj he drew references to this in his musical scapes and structures through a series of clashes with extreme noise, idm, metal and jazz.

Later he moved to berlin where he still resides, performing numerous live shows both in Berlin and as far away as China, Russia and most of the European continent.

Mads lindgren’s monolog project is constantly changing, aiming for extremities and seeking them musically, technically and emotionally. whether it is hammering the drums or creating soothing harmonies, these musical poles are given life by intense binding of contrasts. Recent albums can be summed up as steps towards a harder, more dense and direct form that is new and yet unheard to the monolog alias. a staggering combination of ferocious intensity and atmospheric moments built on a flashing kaleidoscope of sonic facets between slow, steamrolling dub attacks and razor sharp drum’n’bass blasts. Signified by being brilliantly produced and carefully composed offering dense overwhelming walls of forging beats, thundering bass drones, majestic keyboard lines and well-integrated samples.

Q.Where are you from? In what kind of environment did you grow up?

I am from Denmark, but currently live in Berlin. I grew up on the west coast of Denmark with rough but beautiful nature. The light and the colours up there are very unique and it gets very cold at times.I lived very much a solitude life, hence the ‘mono’, but in the times before internet and far away from the urban citys learning collectives, I started learning gear lIke the Akai samplers in this remote place. So I remember growing up taking long walks in the nature, thinking about sample mappings, or how to patch this synth,

Q.Since when are you interested in music? Which vinyl was your first one to buy? Which work (any kind of such as film, book, art etc) influenced your music mostly?

My dad played me music all my life, he was very much into very technical fusion rock from the 70’s which heavily influenced me. I took a harder turn and I think some of the first stuff I bought myself was probably Justice for all by Metallica, and around the same time dvoraks 9th symphony or stabat mater, can’t remember. I have always listened to basically everything, and never focussed on a certain genre to listen to. Every style of music has something offer and its own pioneers. For electronic music I stumbled upon Coldcut ‘what’s that noise’ which also changed my life forever. There are basically the building blocks of my universe, the energy of metal, the soothing composites of classic, the creativity from fusion and jazz, and the tools of electronic music and sampling,

I remember we had a small 14” color tv, and every friday was movie day on the danish networks. One day, I sat there with my milk and cookies watching a black screen, slowly white lines started appearing and at the end spelled the word “Alien” and my life was forever changed.

Q.What is the influence of the Danish music scene? What is your favorite Denmark music?
What is the most characteristic part of Denmark's music?

Personally I follow a lot of Jazz artists from Denmark, they seem to have a certain darkness in them and a melancholy I have com to appreciate over the years. In addition to that, they also seem to tap into a free spirit far away from conformity I really find refreshing listening to. To name a few important guitarists to me Rune Funch, Jacob Bro and Hasse pulses. If I should sum up the feeling of this type of Jazz I always come back to Thomas Agergaard Quartet with an album called 1-2-3-4 testing, and Once around the parks collected records. 

Q.I think that Monolog music has a lot of Drum & Bass elements.
When did you meet Drum & Bass? What was the situation of the German Drum & Bass scene at that time?

I first encountered Drum and bass at roskilde festival in 1994 and was instantly hooked.In the late 90’s, early 2000’s I was studying at the university and to entertain ourselves and get our brains out of the books we started arranging dnb raves at an old punk venue with a nice and rough sound system. We also had a weekly radioshow. So I was mixing vinyl and was renowned for having darker more aggressive taste. This was before I moved to germany, but I still eyed out some synth based vinyls from germany I really liked from ‘green man’ and ‘Simon V’ that sounded very different than any of the UK producers liked. Sounded like they stole kraftwerks setup, turned up the tempo dial and put distortion and fat EQ’s on everything.

Q.What is the best music experience you have had when you were a teenager?

There was one month I will never forget … in 1994 I think
Right after Apex twin release his ‘Richard D James’ album, he played a show using 4 speaker stacks, a first primitive surround concert. He played Bucephalus bouncing ball where the sound would start to circle around you with the bouncing sounds.This had me almost in a musical coma. Same month I saw Meshuggah perform ‘Destry erase improve’. And I also finished a demo with my metal fusion band (wombat in combat) the same month, or maybe the one after.. but closely around that time. This was both listening and production wise the happiest time I can recall from my teenage years.

Q.When was the first time you made your own music? What kind of music did you used to make at the time? What kind of music scene was there in your hometown?

As just mentioned my first musical steps was with before mentioned band, 1990 -> 1995ish and we fit right into a scene in northern Jutland Denmark where loads of bands would share stages and have various pubertanious attacks on genres, styles and composites, mostly metal or harder rock. I then left the metal a little bit and attended a school for playing jazz guitar and came home immensely inspired. Around that time most musicians left the northern Jutland to go to copenhagen to become rich and famous, and I stayed back and replaced band mates with electronics. So around 1999 I made my first tracks in the field of fusion, electronic and jazz.

Q.What was the situation in the Denmark music scene at that time?

To me it seemed, that the entire world had a fresh breath of creative genre merging musical development in the underground of the 90’s. There were no genre conform records coming out, lots of blends. And also metal took a very interesting turn that time. This reflected on the danish scene at that time, big rooms with space for creativity. Very far away from the genre anxiety we have today, where sales of records are more important than creative innovative content. 

Q.When did you start working as Monolog? What were you doing before that?

So I finished my debut around 1999 (mumbler) as the first official electronic solo thing. Before that I had been messing around with fasttracker II tracks for some time and also played guitar in a few bands and constellations.

Q.Monolog's early work has been released by Tender Productions. What kind of music did you create at the time?

Having explained how I grew up, very disconnected from any scene, and far away in a cold a remote place in northern Jutland, it was only after the debut I got the attention of bookers and started to play few concerts. And same story for collaborations with other musicians. I was also working with noise bands playing unconventional instruments so it was very wide years doing work in all corners of music.

Q.Then you did not release the music. What you doing during that time?

There was a break in the releases around 2006 to 2010ish. I was more focussed on playing Live improvised music with a collective of amazing musicians I encountered in Berlin, mainly focussing on my guitar and laptop. There were quite some venues supporting those activities, but slowly they got less and stopped doing open stages for nerds like us. The I naturally reassumed producing finished tracks enriched by the experiences with improvised music.

Q.Please tell us about your encounter with Subtrakt. Are you a label owner now?

I met Dean Rodell in the Subland club which he owned, and he booked me and also my collective project with swarm intelligence a few times (diasiva) for the festival burn the machine. We also shared spots in cars driving around france for an Ad noiseam tour at some point and gradually became good friends. We also started making tracks together and released a few on Ad noiseam and Hymen.

Since the music scene changed and also the business behind it, Dean didn’t want to continue Subtrakt as a label and wanted to focus on other things in Life. Since Subtrakt has an impressive rooster and was always a landmark for experimental hard edged releases he said I could take it over, or he would close the label, so I had the choice to see it perish or drive it forward.

So I chose to take it over and have been heading it since 2015. I get in contact with so many artists through this label that have so much fantastic music to show to the world and I love being the conveyor for this. 

Q.You have appeared on Fuckparade several times. Please tell me how you got to appear

The scene for hard electronic music in Berlin a pretty tightly nit family, and we help and support each other in keeping our family alive and with options like playing the fuckparade. The parade consists of may different crews each doing their own truck, and the before mentioned Subland had a truck at the fuckparade several years and was happy to receive an invitation to play several times. 

Q.Does Fuckparade mainly use Hardcore Techno / Speedcore? Does the parade express any political attitude?

The parade is for the harder aspects of all genres and each truck represents artists and DJ’s that play those genres. I would say the entire spectrum is there with all the labels you can put on it.

Yes the parade is very much a political statement. It is a parade against Racism, against Sexism, For open boarders and for open minds. It is very important to have a tolerant framework for such an event, and we show in numbers we won’t tolerate any shit like racism on the streets of Berlin.  

Q.Please tell me the equipment you are currently using.

I use ableton Live, with an RME connected to Dynaudio DBM50 speakers. I am not religious about which gear I use, creativity does not care about price tags or fidelity.

I have quite a collection of Synths too many to mention here, so my favourite would be a Korg DV-800 from 1977. I loved to process it with Amp simulators, I am currently using the Diesel emulator from UAD which adds a nice paper ripping distortion. And there is the monolog bass sound :)

Q.You use a guitar in a Monolog song,Are you playing? Or programming?

Yes, a lot. I also have a midi interface on my guitar so at times I am also playing synth sounds using only midi signals.

And I play it.. no programming.

Q.The Monolog sound has a feeling of air and depth. How do you make this unique sound?

I work a lot with the mixes. Where you have to consider panorama for each sound, EQ setting for each sound, and depth effects like reverb. This way, all the sounds get their own space and identity.

Recently I am also working a lot with convolutions, where you record the impulse of a certain space and can render sounds with it. For instance - I record an impulse inside my mouth, then I can render a bass sound with this impulse so the sounds like it is convoluted in my mouth. This might be what you hear.

I am using a large collection of field recordings for this.

Q.How much personality is reflected in Monolog's music? Is your thought and politics reflected in the music?

Everything I am and believe in is reflected in the music I do. This is not visible to the listener as decidable statements, but I suppose the listener can sense that there is thought behind the music.

I also am of the opinion, if you do not have anything to say with your music, be silent.

When asked - I also have many political convictions to share that I also write about in my music. For instance the decay of our environment, invasion of stupidity in our political sphere, the level of corruption in our souls due to religious views - there is so much shit to comment on that I can not ignore it. I grew up with art being commentary - a way for society to reflect.

However - I don’t want to smear my views in the face of poeple, but I do tend to hint at what I thought and felt through the title of track. 

Q.You make dance music and non-beats like Droon and Ambient at the same time.
How do you change your mind when making dance music / non-beats?

I sit down with an empty project, then I watch my hands as they composes and construct like watching dogs run around on a field. I have no bias in terms of how it should sound when I sit down. I only have emotion when I sit down. SO the music writes itself as it strikes chords in my emotions and I take little intellectual control over it.

So I don’t sit down and think - lets write a banger.. or lets do an ambient track.

Emotions don’t care about style or genre, so I have to keep my roads wide, open and with as few blockades as possible. This is why it finds many forms and genres

Q.What is the concept of Everything at Zero? How do you feel after finishing its production?

Everything at zero was hard to write, I was angry at humanity for reaching an all time low on everything. Our concept of love has been reduced to flicking through a meat market on your phone, our concert of truth as changed to being told lies at the university and by politicians, our concept of health has been reduced to consuming genetically engineered and patented medicine for elitists that get sick anyway, our concept of faith has been reduced to marching into war when some fucking priest points at the enemy. We are drowning ourselves and all the animals in waste and hyper consumption.

It is very hard for me to be so angry for so long, but I had to. Since humanity gets a chance to reflect on these topics and improve them.

Feel love, Feel enlightened, Feel healthy, Feel compassion for others and other species, Feel faith which is not religion. These are basic human rights we forgot the meaning of, or sacrificed for intermediate rewards. This was the comment of everything at zero, I am happy it is done, so now I can move on knowing I sent humanity a few warnings shots.

Q.What's your favorite song in the album?

Clutches of disaster

Q.I think Monolog can be categorized into various genres. Drum & Bass, Post Industrial and sludge listeners can also enjoy Monolog music. But what do you say if you have to explain your music in words or genres?

I actually for the most part, take my hands of my music when it is released. I also don’t care much for the labelling of it and mostly leave this to listeners or journalists.

When I do care about is how the listener feel. - Feels angry and like starting a riot, perfect - that’s what I wanted you to feel. Feels frightened and overwhelmed by the walls collapsing on you when listening - perfect that’s the fear and fragility I feel. Feels safe, strong and proud - perfect,, that’s the strength I wanted to give you. And these are the aspects that genre determinations to not point towards.

Q.Germany has a great history of electronic music. How has the history of German electronic music influenced you? And how do you feel about Techno?

The German electronic music I find inspiring are bands like Einstürzende neubauten and the more acoustic oriented Faust. Before that some of the intellectual composers of the universities in the 1930’s and so forth.

I do like the dark wave in the 1980’s that also points towards a darker monotonous type of techno I like.

Until I met my wife Liza Aikin, I did not have a clear opinion about techno apart from I liked the sound design and composite.. but it was just a little too slow for me. She has really showed me the genre and also new aspects fo the music I was not aware of.

I do enjoy going out and letting the massiveness of a loud speaker system roll right over me in Berlin, and have learned to appreciate techno.

Q.What is the craziest music experience you have ever experienced?

Listening to pansonic play in an abandoned iron mine in Sweden, where poeple on drugs are hanging over a 300 meter deep drill shaft into the ground in their arms. (Nobody died btw). 

Q.What did you gain in about 20 years of working as Monolog?


Everything I am and stand for is in balance because I do this and have this way of expressing myself.

Q.Many countries are in a difficult situation now. What do you think musicians can do at these times?

Instead of thinking about lost income for you as a musician, maybe think in the other direction. How you can do releases with donation for vaccine research purposes, or provide shelter for homeless in times of lockdown, or for producing the medical equipment needed for this crisis.

Q.Please tell me your future schedule

I rarely make plans where I want to go. I usually follow a whisper in my ghost and live life as it happens. Not in the future and also not in the past.

One plan I do have, which I can make you a part of.. I am working on a new EP of ballads I will most likely release on Subtrakt that will have a more acoustic nature. 


  • 1000 / 1000