Get to know LA-based duo Midnight to Monaco.
Made up of Canadian vocalist Ricky Ducati and US producer Donnie Sloan, Midnight to Monaco are the dreamy duo serving up summer vibes to cure your winter blues.
The band came together after Ducati introduced himself to Sloan on social media. The LA-based Donnie was quickly making a name for himself as the producer of the moment, having had a hand in major tracks like Empire of the Sun’s “Walking On A Dream”.
The duo have recently released the harmonic feel-good anthem “One Way Ticket”, assisted by striking visuals from director Nicholas Randall. The video was inspired by in-studio performances and pays homage to classic lifestyle videos from the 60s and 70s.
We took a moment to get caught up in Midnight to Monaco’s musical magic.
Where does your name Midnight To Monaco come from?
The original name of the band was “Monaco” Not sure how the name came up, I remember we had floated with a few ideas and that one sort of stood out. We really loved the sound of it and the art associated with the Monaco racing posters from the 1930’s so we stuck with that until we found out the name was taken by Peter Hook’s (New order) side project. We tried out a few different titles and Midnight to Monaco came up, which sounded like some kind of novel or film which worked well with the concept we had been building.
How did you meet and when did you start working together?
I (Ricky) was a fan of Donnie’s work on the Empire of the Sun album, and so I decided to seek him out, which happened to be on myspace. He liked my voice and a few months later I came out to london to try some stuff out. Afterwards we worked together on and off for a few years and it was only until last year we decided to take the project more seriously.
What’s your writing process like?
Our writing process can be a little chaotic, rarely do we sit down together and craft out a song, although it has happened a couple times. Sometimes Donnie will have a large portion a song written and i’ll come in at the end, or i’ll write a large portion of the melody and Donnie will work on the music/production. We are extremely selective of our sounds and production and we both really have to like something for us to begin work on it. Our process can be quite unrelenting, but when we’re finished something it is undoubtably rewarding.
Was your sound immediate or did it come as the result of a lot of trial and error?
It definitely took some time to find our sound, we share a lot of music tastes whether it be classic songs from the 50’s-70s or early 2000’s french house but we also desire a touch of progression. The problem was we’re using the same synths and guitars and it just wasn’t that exciting anymore. I think some of our earliest demos had elements of using my vocals but it didn’t fully click until we put together Suicide and it was a very enlightening moment, where we knew what the sound was from that point on. That being said our sound is evolving quite a bit still and I don’t see it ever being a static thing, although when you hear it, you’ll still know it’s us.
“Our sound is evolving quite a bit still and I don’t see it ever being a static thing, although when you hear it, you’ll still know it’s us.”
Tell us about “One Way Ticket”!
One way ticket was a track that had been around since our time in London, Donnie had written the music for Empire of the Sun and for some reason it wasn’t working so we decided to take it on. The instrumentation for the original was synths, bass and acoustic guitars. We erased all of that and replaced it with the Doo Wop elements. We even had Matt Jardine, son of The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine, to come and lay down some of the high parts. Matt sounds like Brian in his prime! He’s amazing.
How do you feel aesthetics come into Midnight To Monaco? Are they something you think about when creating work?
Midnight to Monaco has always been more than a music project for us. It has been a vehicle for us to express our imagination in whatever form we choose. We talk about our images and video content as much as the music because we are building an identity and I think in today’s world it is very valuable to wear many hats and to be conscious of all facets of your content.
How does LA influence your sound?
Some of our music references 60’s and 70’s California movements, but the last few years in LA they’ve played a lot of hip hop on pop radio and I think some of that influence has creeped into our song writing as of late. LA tends to be a bit laid back, perhaps we need to spend a few months writing on the east coast and see if that has an effect.
Who and what do you look to for influence?
We have a huge range of influences and it’s not just music. It can be photography, architecture, film or design. Musically, I grew up listening to classic rock and metal, 70s folk and psych, yacht rock etc. Donnie is more into disco, boogie, soul, funk, fusion italo, hip hop and also yacht rock. We have similar interests in 50s/60s Doo Wop, house music along with classic and current pop music. We’re into a lot of artists really. From classics like Fleetwood Mac, Herbie Hancock, Klein and MBO, The Beach Boys, The Four Freshman, James Brown, Evelyn “Champagne” King, AC/DC, Doobie Brothers, Mamas and the Papas, Larry Levan edits, to more current artists like Daft Punk, The Weeknd, Post Malone and PARTYNEXTDOOR.
What have you got coming up?
We’ve got plans to release another song or two early next year and then continue with a series of single releases. We are putting together a live show and will have more information soon.