Heir to the Flame Out Now

First release of the year is a heavy one.

We’ve been mainlining everything Griselda does for a long time now, so when the opportunity came to work with one of the producers responsible for their sound we jumped on it.

Heir to the Flame is the meeting of Burn Herm & Denny Laflare, featuring artists from the Temple in Forté and Fanta Vibez, Boston-grown heavy hitter Phinelia and New York’s Anton the Bum.

Three joints deep-rooted in dust and boom bap. I think of Monk’s Temple as Boston’s own psychedelic version of Griselda in some ways, and this EP is a monument to that.

This city’s scene is ripe with creative, original art, and like Griselda’s native Buffalo flies under the radar. One of our missions is to give glory to our city, and do it from our city; a city so many people leave when the sirens of success call.

Curiousity Bath #7: PTSD-Curing Psychedelics, "Voicemails" Music Video & more

Hope you had a nice holiday. We sure did... got some much needed mental rest before attacking 2024 hard with an expanded roster of artists. More on that soon...

MUSIC: The instrumental work of Instupendo
Instupendo is one of the melancholy, semi-ambient producers who’ve become extremely popular thanks to the algorithms of Tik Tok and Instagram. You have probably heard a snippet of “Comfort Chain” accompanying a nostalgic, five second clip on one of these platforms. But the deep dive is well worth taking. When I finally get around to making some new solo Monk music, don’t be surprised if this leaks in.

BOOK: Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
George Orr’s dreams sometimes have the effect of manipulating external reality, from things as harmless as changing the painting on the wall to accidentally gutting the majority of the world’s population. He gets caught stealing scripts for dream-suppressant drugs, and it lands him in mandatory counseling. His therapist initially considers him mad (as one would); but when he realizes the truth to Orr’s claims, he can’t help himself from using it to his benefit. Cue the power games. Le Guin’s work draws as heavily on Taoism (the title comes from the writings of Chuang Tzu) and Jungian psychology as it does science fiction tropes, and this resulting novel is a masterpiece.

QUOTE: The following abridged dialogue comes from Douglas Hofstadter’s 1979 masterpiece, Gödel, Escher, Bach:
Achilles: I have learned that in Zen, one seeks enlightenment, or SATORI - the state of “No-mind.” In this state, one does not think about the world - one just IS. I have also learned that a student in Zen is not supposed to “attach” to any object or thought or person… not even the philosophy of non-attachment.
Tortoise: But tell me: if Zen rejects intellectual activity, does it make sense to intellectualize Zen, to study it so rigorously?
Achilles: It seems to me that you may begin approaching Zen through any path you know - even if it is completely antithetical to Zen. As you approach it, you gradually learn to stray away from that path. The more you stray from the path, the closer you get to Zen.

IDEA: PTSD is being cured by ibogaine
In the latest update from the frontlines of psychedelic drugs’ war against trauma, military veterans are being relieved of PTSD symptoms from just a single dose of ibogaine. As crazy as the world is today, we can be thankful that science is increasingly getting the greenlight to explore the therapeutic benefits of these plant medicines; and if you’ve explored indigenous anthropology much, it should be no surprise how well it’s working.

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE: Fanta Vibez has been nominated for Best R&B Artist in the 2023 WMAs! You can vote for her hereBurn Herm just released the video he directed for “Voicemails” - and by “directed”, I mean he spent several hours conversing with AI to manipulate footage from the studio sessions + generate new stock videos to put together this man-meets-machine masterpiece… Other than that, our team is expanding, and if you’ve enjoyed what we’ve done so far you’re going to LOVE what we do in 2024…

Curiousity Bath #6: Ara B's Christmas Miracle, The Bliss of Not-Knowing & more

If you don't have time to dig into all this today, skip to the Update from the Temple. Ara B's story is a real holiday miracle.

MUSIC: Mind Tricks by Conway the Machine & WunTwo
Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this in my Release Radar. German beatsmith WunTwo first came to my attention with his legendary collection of Biggie remixes back in 2012 - and if you’ve been reading this newsletter you know Griselda’s been my flavor of the year. This meeting of the minds is untouchable.

BOOK: Red Pine’s translation of the Tao Te Ching
My introduction to the Tao came from the popular (and more accessible) Stephen Miller translation, which is a great first version to read. When you’re ready to dig deeper, though, Red Pine’s version is as good as it gets. The translation itself is sparse and unadorned, painstakingly preserving as much of the original Chinese phrasing as possible. The real gem, though, is in the commentary that accompanies each verse, drawn from master Taoists and Buddhists of the last couple millennia. I’ve found no better tonic for regaining harmony in moments where the tumultuousness of life disrupts it.

QUOTE: “True confidence is completely accepting your not-knowing… When you do this, your universe becomes bigger. But when you take one idea, formulate something, and become attached to it, your universe shrinks. So let your universe become large. Let your sitting be without boundaries, and a good answer will appear all by itself.”

-Zen Master Bon Haeng

IDEA:The Universal Language of Mathematics and Music
This Gaia production with Robert Grant blew my mind. The connection between music and geometry/math has been studied and revered since Pythagoras, and Grant’s process of connecting music to prime numbers and mathematical constants takes this to a new depth. A perfect example of how the development of science, coupled with the persistently open mind, actually reveals a world of increasing spirituality, rather than closing the doors on it.

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE: Immense gratitude is due to WBZ’s Matt Shearer for orchestrating this fairy tale. Ara B recently escaped an abusive relationship and lives in a women’s shelter. Matt found her singing Christmas carols on the street, and a couple days later, surprised her by bringing her to The Record Co in Boston. Burn Herm was waiting there to record her original song, and they sent it to me to produce the music. Now, this earworm hook lives in thousands of brains already, and this story just aired last night. You can listen to and/or buy this Stranger Things-esque power ballad here - all the money goes directly to Ara!

Curiousity Bath #5: "Voicemails" Drops, Jazz Texture & more

Voicemails” dropped yesterday! This bath covers some direct influences & compatible ideas.

MUSIC: You Only Live 2wice by Freddie Gibbs
Many Gibbs projects could’ve featured on this newsletter - his two albums with Madlib are the stuff of legend. But You Only Live 2wice played a very direct influence on “Voicemails” and the rest of Hermit & the Monk (as you’ll see next year), inspiring us to set up a Google Voice mailbox, which gave us dozens of voicemails to lace throughout the album. We’re a month or two away from delivering to masters, so there’s still time to call ‪(617) 506-3664‬ and get on.

BOOK: Love Poems by Anne Sexton
Sexton captures the euphoria and the shipwrecks of love in this 1969 collection. To summarize poetry is to neuter it - better to have a look through this window instead:

“So I fell apart. So I came all undone.
Yes. I was like a box of dog bones.
But now they’ve wrapped me in like a nun.
Burst like firecrackers! Held like stones!

What a feat sailing queerly like Icarus
until the tempest undid me and I broke.
The ambulance drivers made such a fuss.”

QUOTE: “Haven’t you heard that what comes in through the front gate is not the family jewels? You must allow it to flow out from your own breast and cover heaven and earth. Then you’ll have some small share of realization.”

- Ch’an Master Yantou Quanhuo

Note: As with many Zen anecdotes, this may sound ambiguous out of context. This is a reminder that one doesn’t simply accumulate knowledge and “possess” it. Experience must be digested by the Self, processed in the shadows of the unconscious, and developed into Wisdom.

IDEA: Kiefer’s episode on Open Studio Jazz
The piano has played a central role in my life, growing up with my grandfather and my dad both playing. I clumsily carry that torch now. My grandfather passed away a few months ago, and his piano is in my living room, where I recorded the parts for “Voicemails”. So hearing one of my favorite producers nerd out on jazz piano on this podcast was a joy - particularly their discussion on the importance of texture in recording, which engineers like Rudy Van Gelder made a supreme artform in the Blue Note and CTI eras.

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE:Voicemails” is the story of the hour right now, featuring YaMainRegret and a special guest on voicemail duty. Sidenote: we love easter eggs at Monk’s Temple Records. There are three tunes you’ll find them on - “On Me” and “Voicemails” by Herm & Monk, and “Fools” by Fanta Vibez. The first person who can tell me the three mystery artists doing background vocals of some kind on those three songs gets a free t-shirt.

Curiousity Bath #4: The Museum of Griselda, the Paradigm Shift of J Dilla & more

Nothin' but music this week (that includes Plath's poetry)...

MUSIC: Introduction to Griselda [playlist]
I’ve been on a heavy Griselda kick lately. It’s got me digging for strange cassette rips, having fun just playing with texture on my beats. The discography of Griselda Records is a museum of texture thatWestside Gunn masterfully curates. The in-house production team includes the likes of Conductor Williams, Denny Laflare, Daringer and Camouflage Monk. What would you have put on this playlist that I left out?

BOOK: Dilla Timeby Dan Charnas
It’s no mystery how airtight Dilla’s discipline was. A testament to the commonly referenced 10,000 hour rule, Dilla put those hours in way before the first Slum Village demo tapes started circulating between the hands of musicians like Q-Tip and Questlove. You’ll find yourself digging into all corners of his discography as you read this (I gained a deeper appreciation for his work on the Tribe albums). If you’re young enough to have been raised on Dilla, you may learn for the first time just how shocking his sound was to listeners at the time. Charnas does a great job incorporating some diet music theory that explores how different Dilla’s time feel was, a unique position between straight and swing that gives the book its name.

IDEA: Kaelin Ellis' Drum Mixing Techniques
I'm not alone in feeling that the greatest advancements in hip hop sound design in the last couple years have come from Kaelin and the Kount. Both artists are worth serious study. The producers in this group will take away tons of actionable tips from this video - but casual listeners will learn about what goes into making these records. Definitely check out Kaelin's 2022 album THE FUNK WILL PREVAIL too!


“The claw
Of the magnolia,
Drunk on its own scents,
Asks nothing of life.”

- Sylvia Plath

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE:Cate Armstrong just did an interview with SLO-Fi, talking about the process of her songwriting and the exploration that went into her EP Inner Child. Also talks about the family roots that indoctrinated both of us into music. A beautiful piece of inspiration.

Curiousity Bath #3: Mathematics as the Language of Nature, Cover Art Drop & more

The theme this week is math, the raw data of reality, and consciousness. Let's go!

MUSIC:A Living Room Hush by Jaga Jazzist
The flute & vibraphone, tangled knot of a melody that opens the album on “Animal Chin” is a good disorientation point to jump off from. Nobody blends jazz, drum & bass, post-rock and whatever the hell else they feel like at any given moment like Norway'sJaga Jazzist. With releases on labels like Ninja Tune and Brainfeeder, this band is simultaneously at home anywhere and nowhere. And I think the world could use more bands like that.

BOOK: Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark
In addition to being an excellent survey of astrophysics, this book proposes that our universe is a purely mathematical structure. The crux of this idea is that not one thing in our universe couldn’t be boiled down to numerical representation. The most fundamental building blocks of reality “are purely mathematical objects in the sense that they have no properties at all beyond their quantum numbers,” i.e. things like mass, charge, spin, etc. Physicist Eugine Wigner said that “the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious,” and Greek philosopher Pythagoras and his followers essentially worshiped math and music.

IDEA: Bernard Baars’ Global Workspace Theory
Peter Godfrey-Smith, in his book Other Minds, writes of this model of consciousness, “we are conscious of the information that has been brought into a centralized ‘workspace’ in the brain… we are conscious of whatever information is being fed into working memory.” Reminiscent of the computer programmer’s use of variables in code - we bring information out of the unseen data-murk below consciousness into our “working memory,” giving it a temporary container of meaning. In this way, subjective experience is born. “Attention acts as a spotlight, bringing some of this unconscious activity into conscious awareness on the global workspace.”

QUOTE: “The laws of Nature are written in the language of mathematics ... the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word.”
- Galileo Galilei

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE: Keepin' it short and sweet with a cover art drop (see above). So stoked on this project! Dropping soon...

Curiousity Bath #2: The Original Cosmic Energy Source, Mndsgn's "very deep soul" & more

Welcome back to another curiousity bath! Appreciate the feedback & conversations the last one generated. Let's jump in...

MUSIC:Snaxxx by Mndsgn
The third installment in the Snaxseries just dropped. 2019’s Snaxx (each subsequent volume adds an “x”) was a collection of lessons in hip hop feng shui. Released on Stones Throw Records, whose latest releases by artists like Mndsgn, Kiefer and Knxwledge carry the lineage built by Dilla, Madlib and MF Doom with honor. In this wonderful interview 7 years ago, Mndsgn described his music as “deep… very deep soul.” That deep cut r&b you’re lucky to find in the 7” bin quality swims in a well-balanced stream of hip hop ear candy on Snaxxx.

BOOK: The Abortionby Richard Brautigan
"Poetry is telegrams of the human soul,” Brautigan once said, “to illuminate, to make us more compassionate, to understand more of our condition.” Most of you probably don't know that over a decade ago, I was writing novels - one of those was called The Deadheart Shelters and owes a great debt to Brautigan'sIn Watermelon Sugar. His poetic, dislocated way of describing the world is addictive. A plot summary of The Abortion won’t do; instead, here’s a quote from the book’s first chapter:

"I know it’s going to rain.
Clouds have been playing with the blue style of the sky all day long, moving their heavy black wardrobes in, but so far nothing rain has happened."

IDEA: At the sound of the bell, go to the meditation hall, with no hesitation.
The Bodhisattva precepts are as good a guideline for living as I know. As Reb Anderson says in Being Upright, they are not meant to be constraints, but built-in alarms to realign you with your spiritual path. “Each way of distraction from buddha’s mind is also a way of reunion with buddha’s mind. The precepts show how we lean away from our buddha nature, and they are the road back.” A student of Shunryu Suzuki, Reb wrote a story about his teacher waking up at 3:30 a.m. when the monk in charge of the bell accidentally hit it an hour early. He was the only one in the meditation hall for that first hour, and reprimanded his students for going back to sleep when they realized the error.
"Embrace and sustain all forms and ceremonies" is the name of this precept. It means that keeping promises to yourself, abandoning the inner dialogue of negotiation, the push-pull of self-reasoning to escape from duty, is the first gate to honesty and dependability towards the outer world. "Once you realize that you want to follow such a regimen of practice and commit to doing so no matter what," hewrites,"you will not fail to learn something about yourself."

QUOTE: “Light is the original cosmic energy source. All life… is formed and sustained by light. Even the thought process of the human brain is fed by this energy source. Therefore the human mind, our consciousness, represents the highest, most sublime energetic transformation of light. We are light beings; that is not only a mystical experience but scientific knowledge as well.”

- Albert Hofmann, "Natural Science and the Mystical World View" (appears in Entheogens and the Future of Religion)

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE: First time we’re announcing this: Burn Herm has teamed up with Griselda producer Denny LaFlare for a three song EP. Most of the work is done, and we’re sneaking this one out before Hermit & the Monk drops next year. As a longtime Griselda fan and ambitious preserver of the dusty East Coast aesthetic, this project is a dream come true.

Curiousity Bath #1: Reopening Critical Periods w/ Psychedelics, Mixing Models & more

Welcome to the first episode of Curiosity Bath! Every week at Monk’s Temple Records we put together a digest of five things: music, books, ideas of interest, a quote to fuel your spiritual journey, and an update from the Temple. We’d love to hear your feedback/recommendations, or have a chat about any of the things we’ve shared.

MUSIC: Due Rent by Swarvy & lojii
This album is an unsung hero of contemporary hip hop. True to the name, the two Philly artists linked when Swarvy fronted lojii rent money in exchange for putting in the work on the project. Passion of the Weiss describes it as “unadorned naturalism for the 99%, prose penned while roaches scuttled across the mattress on the floor.” I was blessed to study with Swarvy for about a year and he implanted some permanentfundamental principles into me on mixing; one of those is that music has to reach into the ears, and it’s easy to neuter a mix by playing things too safe. Nothing is safe on Due Rent but somehow all feels viscerally pleasant.

BOOK: The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby
The underlying thesis in this book is that there are secrets locked away in our DNA that are unlocked by plant medicines, namely ayahuasca. The depth of botanical knowledge in the Amazon is staggering;and running perpendicular to the course of Western science, we see no medicine men taking credit for these discoveries, nor a history that records such honors. Instead, this knowledge is “given” to tribal cultures by plants. Ayahuasca is speculated to be “an intelligent being with which it is possible to establish rapport, and from which it is possible to acquire knowledge and power...”

IDEA: Gül Dölen is reopening critical periods with psychedelics.
An article appeared in Wired in September about neuroscientist Dölen’s potentially paradigm-shifting work with psychedelics as a vehicle for reopening critical periods in the brain. All animals experience these periods in their formative years, which “lay the groundwork for a creature’s behavior. They are finite windows of time, ranging from days to years, when the brain is especially impressionable and open to learning.” Her work puts a scientific foundation under the use of psychedelics as a reset button, and a clinical context for how we might handle what Dölen calls a potential “master key for reopening virtually any critical period.”

QUOTE: “...when you throw a stone into the water, it finds the quickest way to the bottom of the water. It is the same when Siddhartha has an aim, a goal… he goes through the affairs of the world like a stone through the water… he is drawn and lets himself fall. He is drawn by his goal, for he does not allow anything to enter his mind which opposes his goal… Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goal, if he can think, wait and fast.”
- Hermann Hesse in Siddhartha

UPDATE FROM THE TEMPLE: After a string of singles and an EP from Cate Armstrong this year, we’re in full-blast album-finishing mode. Burn Herm’s Hermit & the Monk and Fanta Vibez’s Du Coca are both on the work table and will be ready for your ears early 2024. We’ll probably leak some demos exclusively for Curiosity Bath readers between now and then. In the meantime, you can check out the video that Herm directed for one of those tracks, “The Program”, here.

Unprogramming "The Program"

“The Program” music video is out now! You can peep it here.

We’ve always been drawn to film dust, VHS tapes, just on an aesthetic level… it mighta gone back to my days as a (terrible) skater wearing Alien Workshop videos done to the bone. Or the sound of Crooklyn Cuts on the cassette tapes they call home. But Herm put this in a language I never considered before.

We’re programmed constantly, most of all when we aren’t aware of it. We’re flesh-bound computer programs prodded non-stop by the variables of our environment. So wakefulness is the primary objective of the spiritual path that unites us at Monk’s Temple Records.

Herm framed this aesthetic we’re drawn to as one of deprogramming. Waking up to the stimulus around us so as to better ignore the undesirable elements of it and mindfully embrace the meaningful aspects. “The Program” is one more footstep on the mission of un-programming the program, stripping the blueprint naked and rearchitecting it intentionally.

In Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hofstadter asserts consciousness arises as a consequence of our minds’ self-referential nature. This “strange loop” is what births consciousness. An unattended feedback loop is a profoundly dangerous thing. An intentional one is powerful enough to create anything. You’re at a fork in the road, every moment. Which way will you go?

September Full Moon Reflection

on processing

i’m collapsing in on myself
this high frequency leads me to burn. but
is it my fault or yours?
i think my way to oblivion

all i’ve ever wanted is to feel alive, but
i don’t have the best track record.
info over over overload drains
the crispness out of my moments...

still can’t seem to get it. but
nothing another thought can’t fix.
i read elizabeth gilbert
“You are afraid of surrender because you don’t want to lose control. But you never had control;
all you had was anxiety.”

i’m collapsing in on myself, but
i apply words to protect me from the truth.
avoidance is the gift i wouldn’t return
so i didn’t have to hurt their feelings

all i’ve ever wanted is to feel like i’m enough. but
i overlook the glimmers in my gaze.
it’s you, it’s me, it’s us;
i hope we learn to surrender

"Inner Child" Out Now

INNER CHILD is out now! This is an iceberg tip to the head of the one of the most empathetic, poetically-minded people I know. Also happens to be my cousin. The last year, since we started this project, has been a hell of a journey for her, and it’s an honor to have helped build the soundtrack to it.

How it started: Cate wanted to apply to get on a festival, but only had one song out called “Found” that kept more in the acoustic, folky space. She was hungry to make something heavier and had tons of songs on the cutting room floor she was eager to play with.

When she told me this on the phone, I said “Come out to Boston for a few days, we’ll bang out an EP and you’ll have all the tracks you need.” I was lying. Not on purpose, but I guess I never got the memo that it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver – I usually think there’s at least thirty hours in a day and generally spacetime tends to collapse that to less than a dozen.

Cate flew in from San Luis Obispo. We lit palo santo to refresh in intervals and worked almost nonstop, taking short breaks to play with Nori or go grab a quick beer somewhere before the next shift. At one point we gave Nori a techno bath and filled the tub with glow sticks (which I’ve since learned is a thing at Grimes’ house too). We were totally gassed at the end of that week, but not done.

It’s beneficial to let art digest in the subconscious for a while, to see how the weeks ripen (or rot) it, to get it naked and dress it again. We were patient. Perfection doesn’t exist, and there’s a line beyond which “overdone” lives, but I’d rather eat crispy bread than dough. There was even a spot in the middle there where I was thinking the best thing might be for Cate to redo the project raw, just her and acoustic guitar – I would’ve been all in for that if it was what was right. But luckily, in retrospect, I don’t think it was.

This was the first project I started with Monk’s Temple Records. I’ve been steeped in hip hop most of my life, that’s what Gasoline Monk mostly is. But I’m so blessed for this EP, because it granted the label permanent permission to disregard genre, and just do work we believe in.

We're just a group of people glued together by a shared spirituality, expressing that in different ways. As disparate as we may appear, we've become a family through this. We work on & support each other’s projects, and we all would sooner pass on an artist who’s got huge numbers but doesn’t fit the ideals and the framework of the family unit.

So here’s the latest from our family to yours…

August Full Moon Reflections pt. 2

Lately I’ve been thinking about the age old tale of enthusiastically responding “I’m good” at any drop of the question “How are you?” Yet, somehow any feeling outside the realm of “good” so easily transforms into the classic “I’m okay” or “I’m fine.” Speaking from personal experience, I certainly find myself dancing around my emotions quite often. While it’s not always appropriate to share the details of my current state, I’m concerned about the well-trodden pattern of ignoring what I’m feeling rather than genuinely checking in with myself and speaking that truth into existence.

Don’t get me wrong, observing and communicating emotions is incredibly daunting, but I know that choosing to avoid emotional regulation doesn’t necessarily help me get to where I want to go. For me, so much of this internal battle lives in the unknown of how people will react to my unfiltered self. If I choose the route of complete honesty about my feelings, how will the person react? Will they respond with compassion and kindness or be dismissive?

Amidst this contemplation, I get stuck on a contradiction. Despite our tendency to push feelings away, no human being is exempt from feeling in the first place. Why can’t we talk about it openly? Why do we reject a reality we all experience? We watch movies, read books, listen to music, and witness art that evokes a range of emotions within us. We feel sad when the dog dies in a movie, we feel anger when an artist sings about the story behind a rocky relationship, we feel joy and relief when Harry Potter completes his quest, we feel sadness when observing a mesh of dark colors on canvas. Feeling is a universal experience, and yet, our language can fall short when attempting to express emotions.

I say this and raise these questions not only to point the finger at our culture, but most importantly to point it inwards. I know that a broader emotional vocabulary has the potential to deepen connections with myself and others, but I shy away from listening to the cues of my body. Oftentimes, welcoming the physical and mental sensations of emotions with curiosity feels like a foreign process to me. I can surely talk the talk about mental health, but I fear how much I actually practice what I preach.

Instead of living numb and pretending I have it all right, what if I tried to own the imperfect process of living this lesson into life? It is my hope to better understand myself and our world, to share my real progress journey, to make mistakes, and to share my learnings. My tagline “here to feel,” is my genuine
intention moving forward; I want to lean into the path of integrating emotional awareness and vulnerability into my life and art. I want to be honest. I need to be honest. Better out than in, right?

August Full Moon Reflection

I am sitting on a cushioned window nook surrounded by books that inspire me, in a home that carries the magic of lived experience. What if, just for a moment, I trusted that I am exactly where I need to be? Here lies no yearning for a different reality, but instead, the building of intentional pockets of love into my very existence.

As a creative and a deep feeler, I tend to descend into the jungle of my head. At times, there is a playful fantasy to it, but others, there is a striking loneliness. I’ve observed myself grasp so tightly to my internal dreams that I’ve forgotten the agency I have to live them into life. All along, the life I’ve so desperately desired has been hovering just under my nose.

In the “real world,” I sit back and watch possibilities sprout. Separate, they are simply specks of hopeful wonder, but together, a communion of purpose and aliveness. Alone time to contemplate and learn has always been a need of mine, but in excess, I conform to using it as a crutch. It is my emergence into the fabric of community that gives me a sense of the true pulse of reality, and why it’s always important to return to it. Slowly but surely, I remember it takes courage to reenter the world after a period of depression.

To disrupt the pattern of retreating to life in my head, I ask myself the question “What kind of connection is my body craving, and where can I access it?” I consider that maybe it’s not so much a place, but a quality of mind to nurture and bring with me everywhere I go. If I close myself off to possibilities of connection, the gifts of life that are waiting will never find me. I’ve learned there is nothing as sweet as the grateful surprise of brewing connections between people, organically allowing our bodies to catch up to our heart’s desire to see and be seen. Here, the leap of vulnerability opens the door to be a part of the equation of building community again.

"Fools" Out Now

Fanta Vibez is back for more! "Fools" is out today, the first chapter in the Du Coca story.

Du Coca is a nightlife album, but not one of elegance and wealth - these songs seek to capture the dirt, sweat and obscuration of our East Coast cities at 3 a.m. Influenced as much by Burial and Flying Lotus as by the dim dancefloors of underground house clubs, "Fools" is the first step in that journey.

"Fools" was fully improvised - after a couple takes on a written track, she asked me to let her freestyle one. I thought, let her get it out of her system and get back to work. But there was no turning back. She kicked back a 9 Apples nip and got it done. Took me a while to cut my own laughter from the track, almost had to keep it.

We like easter eggs at Monk's Temple. Like how Fanta is secretely on the hook to "On Me". Well on this song, Herm, Sassy D'Estany, and Peter Georges-Clapp were in the studio with us - and kneejerk, Fanta said "do this: you-you-you-yoooouuuu" in a choir - so that's the whole gang you're hearing in the background at those spots. Forgive our lack of singing technique. I think it adds a nice touch.

Who We Are

Once again I can thank the I Ching - its guidance pushed me to turn my energies outward, using my time in the studio to fuel other vehicles besides my own. That was the womb from which Monk's Temple Records emerged - but it would've been stillborn if I hadn't met Herm, Fanta, Griffin and had family like Tyler and Cate in my corner.

We all have a bent towards the mystical and a hunger for the psychedelic. Our differences are dissolved by that alchemy. The true unity behind Monk's Temple Records is the spiritual journey we're all on and increasingly interwoven by.

Alchemy - that's the word - that's what music is. It's not jetfuel for ambition nor anchor to "the world of red dust." Music is nothing more or less than alchemy, via unseen vibration, capable of altering mood and reorienting the listener. All of us feel this is sacred work (no matter if we're singing "Pay me! Pay me!" or "reverse image searchin' what innocence is within a person"). This is our modern shamanism.

We've built our own little tribe, our infrastructure, over the last year. But nature seeks to grow. I can tell you that I planted tomatoes last year and didn't this year, but nevertheless, tomatoes grew. "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." If you're here, you're family. When conflicts arise in our schedules, I always tell the team, "There's no rush." This is the long game. Our pace if we're doing it right is in harmony with nature, and our finding you and our future tribe is unfolding in natural rhythm.

We've put out four singles so far - you can listen to them here. Drop us a note and say hello. We have a lot of fun ideas about what we'd like to do with this platform (I'm a computer programmer too so we're thinking big) and would love to hear what you would love to see.