STRONG MUSIC CONNECTION: AN INTERVIEW WITH TONY MOMRELLE

Please welcome one of the powerful soul singer from UK, Tony Momrelle. His voice will be familiar to many. He did many sessions and live backing vocals for people like Elton John, Terry Callier, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Sade, Gary Barlow, Andrea Bocelli, Gwen Stefani, Gabrielle and Robert Palmer. He came to Indonesia a few times with Incognito as his the signature voice from this acid jazz band. In this interview, we talked a lot about his real connection with music, family, music partners and his solo project that give him another canvass of inspirations. The best yet to come is his latest album title that we discuss here too. I strongly believe you’ll love his music.

1. Were you a good student when you were a kid?
Tony Momrelle (TM) : HAHA hmm?? Yes I was however I was also up to mischief.

2. Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
TM: I think the first record i bought was DJ Ca$h Money & Marvellous “Play it cool”.

3. In what age did you play your first gig and how was it like (where, with whom etc.)?
TM: My first ever gig was actually at my grandparent’s church when I was around 6, me and my sister had to sing for a talent evening LOL, It was in London and I just remember many people staring at us HAHA.

4. How did your parents respond when you started getting into music? Were your parents really into music?
TM: Growing up we had much music in the house, My parents are from the Caribbean, so music was all around us. My dad had many records and on the weekends he’d play music. I think from an early age my parents knew I was going to be involved in the entertainment industry.

5. About how old were you when the big transformation happened?
TM: Well I think a major transformation was when I was asked by the BBC to be involved in a TV show; the subject for that show was Rap Music! During that time Rap Music was a new thing the in UK, were talking mid 80’s. So at the time it was about break dancing, body popping, wearing cool track suits, baseball caps, chains etc.

I was a part of a rap group as I used to rap and I entered the DMC free styling competition. This was during a school week so me being mischievous LOL I took a day off school to enter not knowing I would come 3rd! This is where i met the BBC. Yep I got into a lot of trouble with my parents but I got onto a tv show because of it. HA!

6. What are your earliest memories of singing?
TM: I remember singing on the weekends when my dad would play music in the house that was around the age or 6/7.

7. At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a professional musician?
TM: I think after i did that BBC show i knew i wanted to be in the music business! by the age of 18 i started to take singing seriously so from then i set my goal to be an artist.

8. We know that you’re also fully involved on two groups “Incognito” and “Sade”. How would you describe the chemistry with each group?
TM: Two of the greatest bands in the world! the chemistry in both bands is amazing because we operate as a family. We all have our roles to play but we work together knowing we are one engine and each part is as important as the other.

9. What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in music circuits?

TM: I think most of all learning from others, I’ve been very blessed to work with some of the greats so for me i wanted to learn as much as possible. One thing I can say I learnt from all the people I’ve worked with is to be nice! The same people you meet on the way up can be the same people you meet on the way down.

10. Can you name two persons who influenced you the most as a musician?
TM: Easy! Bluey from Incognito and Sade! Having worked so close with each I have learnt so much and for certain this is why I am the artist I am today.

11. Do you have secret passions in music?
TM: Hmm.. I love all music so that’s my passion I think.

12. When looking for a music producer, what is most important to you?
TM: Someone who understand me and it’s important that they love what they do. This way I get the best out of the project I’m working on.

13. How do you describe your new album Best Is Yet To Come? What was the recording process like?
TM: Well “Best Is Yet To Come” is the follow up album to “Keep Pushing” which was released late 2015 so this record is an extension of the first album, But more musical. I love writing songs of hope, love and life, so the process was great, from writing the songs and then building those songs into records. I never know what the end result will be when making a record as i like to be free to write and then after that process i and my team can go through it all and see what feels like a record. The process can take several months from what starts out as a melody and chords to a full blown album.

14. How do you see your music now as compared with your debut album?
TM: Well like I said this album is more musical and if anything it shows growth as well as where I’m now going musically, I never like to compare but i guess I’d say Growth.

15. Do you find that when you are inspired to write, it kind of happens all at one time or sporadically or you’re always kind of consistently making new songs?
TM: It happens in different ways, sometimes I have a song idea and within a couple hours I’ve fully written a song, I’ve also done the same in 30 mins lol. Most times I’m always singing new melodies and I like to record them on my phone which I revisit from time to time.

Also I like concepts and quotes if I get a concept idea I will write it down and then try and write something to go with that. For example on my new album I have a song called “I wanna be loved” the concept behind this was one day I was walking past a shop and there was a guy begging for money and he was a homeless. So I made a note to write about that subject. So the first verse of the song describes a homeless guy watching all the people passing him by and he’s thinking to himself, “I was a soldier I’d be on the front line, If I was a teacher I would open up your mind and if I was a surgeon I would mend all broken hearts and that’s just the start” he continues to visualise himself in all these positions in life but reality kicks in and he knows he will never be any of those people but would like to be recognised for being himself.

16. What are some personal goals you have to build a deeper relationship with your fans while your career grows through all of your albums?
TM: It’s really important to me that I communicate with all my fans via social media as well as live concerts, I get energy from that which helps me strive to be the best version of myself I can be at that time

17. Do you have any listening recommendations for vocalists to develop creativity as an artist?
TM: I would always say check out “Donny Hathaway” his voice and tone was just amazing. Stevie wonder again for vocals but also song-writing and arrangements that’s what worked for me but I’d add that people should find what it is that they really love musically and listen to the best and learn from that.

18. Any other advice for vocalists and instrumentalists to improve their musicianship and to keep moving the music forward?
TM: Like my answer above I would say listen to as much music as possible because there is always something new to learn

19. Can you talk about what you have planned coming up in 2020?
TM: Right now I’m planning a few shows starting in January I will be touring with an orchestra throughout Germany then I will be touring with my band from February onwards to many places. I am hoping I will have to opportunity to come back to beautiful Indonesia!

20. What’s the biggest challenge now for you?
TM: The biggest challenge for me is to keep pushing forward and to do and be the best I can.

21. You came here with Incognito a few times, how did you see your fans here? They’re really enthusiast with your music and do you have any special message for them?
TM: Ahh man i love INDONESIA as well as the many fans! I have always been treated with love and the fans are full of so much energy! I love you all and hope to see you all again very soon!

Photo Credits: Tony Momrelle

@2019/AldoSianturi

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