Monta at Odds
What is Monta at Odds? Stalwarts of Kansas City's psychedelic and experimental music scene. Mind-bending performers. Founders of the multimedia celebration KC Psych Fest. Fronted by brothers Dedric and Delaney Moore, Monta at Odds is a "musical immersion...into the cosmos of Krautrock, electronic, dub, psych and soul" that is heavily influenced by the philosophical issues raised by the intersection of science fiction, creative experimentation and artistic collaboration. We are pleased to share our interview with the multifaceted Dedric Moore that touches on all these subjects and more.
Please introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
My brother and I are the founders of Monta at Odds. We both live and work in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. We have our HQ in the Prescott Neighborhood along with a handful of artists and musicians. It's a nice low cost area that is conducive to sparking the creative flow with a vibrant mix of ethnicity and a wide range of household income. I am a freelance producer, engineer and videographer. Delaney is a practical structure artist.
You founded KC Psych Fest in 2012 as a way to bring KC psychedelic music to the forefront as a true multimedia experience complete with 2D and 3D art. How has Psych Fest evolved over the last four years?
The fest has moved locations but not changed our ethos of showcasing forward thinking artists who push the boundaries of whatever genre they work in. It has been an added bonus that many of our past performers have now be able to perform at venues and festivals within the region along with more mainstream genre artists. We've always pushed the multimedia experience and VJDN8 has been a big part of providing video that is presents effected live camera along with curated videos. Steve Gardels, from the Philistines, stepped in last year and did a beautiful job curating video to match each style of band that would take the stage next. We are always looking to expand how we incorporate visual art with our musical acts. I'd love to have more 3D sculptures as well as motion performance video that can project on a person as they perform live.
Kansas City has a brilliant psychedelic and experimental music scene, with bands like Gemini Revolution, Mysterious Clouds, Expo '70 and your own Monta at Odds. How have you defined 'psychedelic' music for yourself as a songwriter and performer? How important is the visual element to the Monta at Odds live experience and music packaging?
Funny you should mention Gemini Revolution and Mysterious Clouds. I recorded and produced all of their releases. Expo 70 shared practice space with us and our percussionist Aaron Osborne plays bass in the Expo Seventy trio. I even co-mixed Expo Seventy's album Virtually From the Unknown.
For me, psychedelic music turns on that part of your brain that delights in unexpected pleasures. It could be a special effect, a repetitive mantra that builds from slight nuances, or just someone turning on every pedal that they own and letting it go full force.
I try and apply the approach to songwriting and mixing as working in unity where the technology expands the options but doesn't overwhelm the performance. It is easy to get stuck in valuing a special sound over what works best for the song. We are very conscious of what is best for the song versus showcasing a particular performance. Delaney and I leave our egos at the door when we enter the studio and use our performances as stepping stones to get to what's best. Sometimes my bass part will lead to new keyboard arrangements that make my part unusable and then we add a new bass or even Delaney picks it up and finishes the song. Conversely, I might add a guitar or synth that changes the direction or even a mix decision that causes us to re-evaluate the entire performance. The luxury of having our own studio is that it is a playground where we can try anything and just hit delete if it didn't work. It frees us up to make bold attempts at performances that can be built into exciting songs. That might happen where I cut up a performance of the drummer and make a song a 7 minute exploration out of a two minute idea, which indeed happened and it is a glorious indie-rock meets 60's Spy Jazz.
You have spoken previously about your love of science fiction (namely Philip K. Dick) and its influence on your music. What else has inspired you recently?
Arthur C. Clarke is my latest obsession. Also Issac Asimov and Ray Bradbury have crept into my studies. I took an Intro to Science Fiction class at KU a while back and the instructor, James Gunn (not the director), was friends with all of the great writers as well as an author. He was very adamant about the difference between Science Fiction and Science Fantasy explaining that events or circumstances had to have scientific possibility backed by well thought reasoning. Otherwise it is just making up stuff hence the work Fantasy. I've been drawn to the 2001: A Space Odyssey series because of how it deals with humanity's place in the cosmos. We are so obsessed with the right now as a culture that it is humbling to think how our lives are just a blip in the evolution of this planet. Within that I've been writing lyrics that deal with the cosmos as a metaphor for how we as modern humans interact with each other and the impact of those relationships. Plus I love alternative universe theory and androids and the blessings and curses that all of those components entail.
What inspires you about the Kansas City music community?
What I think of as the psychedelic community is really more of the experimental community but really each of those words gets abused by the music press and the average person. The experimental community is a group of dedicated musicians that revel in performing uncompromising art and are willing to perform in unsuspecting places to provide new experiences in hearing and seeing a performance. I love that fact that things can get wild and unpredictable and conversely be quiet and intimate. I really appreciate the crowds that attend because it is silent as listeners absorb the experience fully focused. The music is a challenge at first but if you get it a few listens then you can start to hear melodies and structure that are less obvious. I see it as the same type of listen as jazz. You can start with the blues-leaning jazz or big band standards and then follow the white rabbit down the hole until you are a free-jazz expert. The same is true for ambient, dub, indie, Texas-psych, doom, prog, classic rock, electronica, psych-folk, West Coast jam band, drone, noise, and the list goes on. I always recommend starting with the classics of any said genre and then follow the trail of who inspired who and who played on what album and who produced this madness and then you'll be sitting next to Alice talking to caterpillars and drinking strange home-brewed tea.