After answering an ad in a weekly Canadian magazine, Colin Munroe found himself producing for local hip-hop and R&B artists. Though he’s a self-proclaimed “mutt” whose music is a mixture of different genres- pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B, Munroe has still managed to create a strong musical identity for himself. Munroe and his label Marked Music, recently inked a deal with Grammy award-winning producer Dallas Austin, and his company Rowdy Records. The two companies will partner up for the worldwide release of Munroe’s debut album, Don’t Think Less of Me. With the streets buzzing about Munroe’s remix of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights,” Munroe is proving that it won’t be too much longer before he gets them–the flashing lights, that is.
Clutch: Who is Colin Munroe?
Colin Munroe: Six months ago, he was just another Canadian artist, producer and writer who was trying to get noticed and doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing with his life. From childhood, I always thought ‘Ok, I feel like I’m supposed to be doing this music thing.’ You do what you can and you try to meet the right people and you work hard and you hope that “that thing” happens that opens the door and gets you to a broader audience beyond Canada.
Clutch: If that was who you were six months ago, then who is Colin Munroe now?
Colin Munroe: Now I think I’m someone who people are able to understand a little bit better. I think before it didn’t quite make sense. It was like, “His solo [music] is pop/rock material, but he came from a production background on the urban scene?” Now people get it. I’m a new breed of kid who isn’t just a hip-hop head, but isn’t just a white suburban rock kid either. It’s this strange amalgamation that’s starting to happen with culture and art which is the mixing of pop and all of the different genres that’s a little bit different.
Clutch: How did you know that this was something with which you could possibly be successful?
Colin Munroe: I honestly didn’t. It was just one of those moments where you’re like, ‘I have to do something. I can’t just sit around in this big city where I don’t know anyone; I have to get my foot in the door somehow.’ I guess I just felt strong enough in my ability to do whatever.
Clutch: Why did you name your debut album Don’t Think Less of Me?
Colin Munroe: That phrase really described a lot of my life from childhood to now- which is just a bitter-less struggle to get other people and myself to take me seriously. This is what I’m supposed to be doing so literally, don’t think less of me. Growing up there was a little bit of that attitude that you get from people around you that’s like, “You’re not gonna write songs, you’re from a small town.” I heard a lot of that from my family and friends and it just never agreed with me. It never felt right, and it was always something that I knew I needed to get away from. There’s nothing you can do when that’s your childhood, but it plants those seeds or makes little cuts in you that grow into scars that then become the chip on your shoulder that drives you. So this set of records is me processing everything from before.
Clutch: What can we expect from Don’t Think Less of Me?
Colin Munroe: I feel like this is a very unique opportunity as an artist. I’ve been able to be totally transparent with who I am coming out. Just like with “I Want Those Flashing Lights,” it’s a real mixture of both worlds. It expresses who I am as both the underdog and the kid who’s just trying to get somewhere and the struggle to find an identity musically and in life.
Clutch: When you first heard Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights,” did you know that you wanted to remix it into “I Want Those Flashing Lights”?
Colin Munroe: It was almost instantaneous in terms of wanting to do something with it. I remember being in the car and hearing [“Flashing Lights”] for the first time thinking ‘Wow, this is really cool, but I would do something different with it.’ When I went to approach it lyrically, the first line was just there waiting on me and that generally sets the tone. And at that time, it fit for everything that was going on with me.
Clutch: How were you able to find your niche in the music industry that would still appeal to the urban crowd?
Colin Munroe: The influences are there from the urban production. A friend and I were sitting around one day and we came to the realization that [Don’t Think Less of Me] is a pop/rock album but produced in an urban way. There’s something about the way that synthetic and organic elements are mixed together that feels like it’s a mix between two worlds. Also, I think the audiences are a little bit more open than what they used to be. It’s not like that part of the community is only going to listen to it if it’s soul samples. The urban crowd was the crowd that gave me my first start; they were the open-minded ones.
Clutch: When you’re producing and writing songs for other people, where do you pull inspiration from?
Colin Munroe: It’s different every time. There’s this one artist in particular who I worked with back in Canada and it was this strange ability to sit down with her, talk with her about what’s going on in her life and feel like I’m drawing from her experiences as if I lived them. But that doesn’t happen often and I take that to be a very special, once in a lifetime thing.
Clutch: Do you pull inspiration from a different place when you’re creating music for yourself?
Colin Munroe: I have a particular attachment to films. They speak to me in a certain way that then connect me back to life and its experiences, that pulls out the inspiration somehow. So, I may have gone through something, but don’t necessarily feel any inspiration about it, but then I’ll see a film and something will just come to life.
Clutch: What’s your favorite film?
Colin Munroe: I can watch Pulp Fiction over and over again. I just love the dialogue, and some of the best quotes I’ve heard are from it.
Clutch: What are some things that you can’t live without?
Colin Munroe: I feel naked without my phone, and if I don’t get to check my email or MySpace or facebook, I feel disconnected from people.
To hear more from Colin Munroe, go to www.colinmunroe.com.