“I like to bend strings a lot, so that’s an advantage,” says MonoNeon of his upside-down, left-handed bass approach. He prefers 5-string Lakland basses. Photo by Fred SanFilipo

In your videos, you often play along to people speaking. Describe the process of transcribing and learning to play what people are saying.
I just repeat and repeat and repeat until I get it. I sit around and learn it. I don’t write anything out. It takes a lot of time to retain it, remember it, and get it under my fingers. It’s stuff that I just like to do: It’s cathartic for me to do it.

How do you put together your arrangements?
During the process. I don’t think about it before, but when I’m doing it, I think about it.

Do you find that people have a natural cadence when they speak that lends itself musically?
Yeah. Especially, for some reason, Cardi B really works for me.

What is it about her speech that works for you?
I don’t know, I just hear a lot of melodicism in it. I don’t know what it is. It just works.

Does that hold true for Angry Grandpa and Donald Trump as well?
Somewhat. I like Will Smith. I do some of his videos, too.

What gear are you using to create those videos?
I plug into an interface. I have a one-channel interface, the Apogee Jam. I plug my guitar into it, unplug it, and then plug my bass into it. I also use the Apollo Twin Solo if I’m home recording stuff.

“For some reason, Cardi B really works for me.”

Besides Prince, have other people been in touch with you because of your videos?
A few people. I can’t remember who else found me, but I get emails and messages a lot from people because of my videos.

Are you right-handed or left-handed?
I am right-handed.

What made you decide to start playing left-handed?
I’ve been playing that way since I was 4 years old and I never changed.

Do you find there are advantages to playing that way?
I like to bend strings a lot, so that’s an advantage. It’s easier to bend because the higher strings are on top.

What’s your approach to slap?
It’s really the same way everybody else does it. I slap with my thumb and I pop with my fingers. It’s just upside down.

Playing upside down doesn’t make it more challenging?
I just pluck. I really don’t think deep about this. I just do it.

Basses and Guitars
Lakland Skyline 55-01
Fender Jazz bass (fretless)
Yamaha TRBX505 (fretless)
Yamaha Revstar

Amps
TC Electronic Blacksmith
TC Electronic and EBS cabs

Effects
Apogee Jam
Universal Audio Apollo Twin Solo
DigiTech Whammy Pedal
TC Electronic Helix Phaser
TC Electronic SpectraComp Bass Compressor
Danelectro Fab Tone

Strings and Picks
Dunlop Super Bright Nickel 5-String Bass Strings (.045–.125)
Medium-gauge picks (guitar)

Any other techniques?
I palm-mute a lot. I don’t work on my tapping a lot. I’m really standard when it comes to technique.

Do any of these things transfer to guitar playing?
Rhythm guitar playing. I’m not much of a lead soloist, I’m more of a rhythm guitar player.

Do you use a pick for guitar?
Yep.

How did you develop your sense of groove? Did you spend time with a metronome?
I really just play to records, that’s all.

Do you use a click when recording your albums?
I really don’t. I don’t really record to a BPM [beats per minute]. If I do, I have to remind myself to do it, but I usually don’t.

Are there things you recommend others do to develop a sense of time?
Play to records, that’s the best way for me. Playing to a metronome is cool, but playing to records is more fun, I guess.

Did you do things to develop your speed as well?
I’m not really fast. I just repeat and repeat stuff until I get it.

How did you develop your harmonic sense? Have you transcribed jazz solos?
When I was young, I tried to do that stuff, but I never really stuck with it. I never sat around and transcribed Bird or Jaco. I just took fragments from what they did and played around with it. I never transcribed a whole solo.

Did you study harmony? Did you take theory classes at Berklee and learn about substitutions and chord scales and things like that?
Yeah, but I really don’t use it. Everything is intuitive. Like, everything I do is intuitive.

Meaning you hear something and play what’s in your head.
Yep. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes I fall on my face doing it, but it is what it is.

You studied microtones with Fiuczynski. Do you still work with those?
I haven’t recently, but sometimes I mess around with quarter-tones. It’s still there, but I haven’t composed with it much.

You go for a lo-fi sound on your solo releases. Do you use that same aesthetic when working with other people?
I’m sure it comes out somewhere unintentionally. My love for lo-fi came from not knowing what the hell I am doing. So, I just fell in love with it. It’s nostalgic. I just like it.

Do you go direct when recording with others as well?
Yep.