May 9, 2023
10 min read
From his Miami-based studio, Jordan Postrel, aka m.O.N.R.O.E., grins like a child in a candy store as the camera pans across his toys. He has an easy-going yet sharp and witty air, nicely personified by his laid-back body language and "USE HEARING PROTECTION" embossed black shirt.
Curious about the beginnings of his musical life, I enquired about his familial roots within the industry.
"My dad used to be a producer in the 70s for James Brown and Tina Turner," he explains. "When we were kids, he tried getting us into it, but what five and seven-year-old really wants to play the piano? So, my brother and I never got into it."
There go my visions of family car ride sing-a-longs, and sitting in on daddy's recording sessions. But, rather than paternal inspiration, it seems that Miami's nightlife scene was what set Postrel's soul on fire.
"As a kid in Miami, you get a fake ID, you start to go out to places you shouldn't be. Before you know it, you're like, 'Oh, I like this stuff... I wanna get into DJing!' So when I was 17, I got into DJing. Very cliche thing to do."
Very few lucky souls find what it is in life that lights them up and make a career out of it, but for Jordan, it seemed to come naturally.
"When I was 18, I was like, 'Okay, I really want to make this a job. I got to get into production.' So for the first three months, I forced myself to make production fun and get myself into that habit and lifestyle. And then, from there, it just evolved. When I was 22, that's when I actually started playing an instrument for the first time. I started taking piano lessons. But from 18 to 22, it was all Ableton, and then from there, it just progressed more and more."
After he graduated high school, he was pretty much self-taught. He found mentors and collaborators, spending a few summers in Ibiza. But it wasn't until he turned 23, when he'd honed his skills and sound a little more, that he began releasing music under his name.
"I wanted to make sure a lot of my stuff was as strong as some of the things that I was playing. And I wanted to make sure that it would also fit into my sets. I kind of was like a little all over the place in the beginning and just because I just like so many different things."
It started slowly for Postrel, a few small gigs here and there, and when he hit 25, things started to kick off with bigger bookings and tours. However, COVID soon came knocking and put the brakes on. But Jordan used this time productively, and with the cards dealt to him, he managed to make the most of his time in lockdown.
"I tried doing a little bit for a sample company, and I was like, yeah, this is cool, but this is way too much, way too time-consuming. So I got into doing production and other genres for other people. And that was very beneficial because it would teach you a whole other set of skills with production that you wouldn't typically use or think of because you're doing dance music. And that was cool because I could apply different things that I learned from this to that, different songwriting techniques… It also helped me create a second source of income. So now my DJing's back up again. Now I have like two flows of cash, which is a lot nicer."
For many artists, making a career with a financial income strong enough to support themselves is tough, and they may find that family support wanes. But when a parent is already an artist, does that change how supportive they are of their offspring?
"Definitely more supportive. Connection-wise, he doesn't have any more connections in the music industry because he got out in '74. So everything I did in the music industry was just me personally going out and hustling and doing it for myself. But the best thing he provided for me was the comfort of time. And he was willing to support me my first several years when I first got into music," Postrel explains. "I know I also have other friends that didn't have that luxury, and they had to hustle their ass off and work a job on the side to also pay rent so they could focus on music. But, like if you have the ability to have free time to focus on what you do, that's the most important thing in the beginning."
I was curious to learn more about his work within production and whether or not being a producer was favorable over the sometimes antisocial hours of being a DJ.
"No, I like them the same. They're both different types of fun. I mean, I love being in a studio. It's just like there's a certain like vibe and 'je ne sais quoi' to it. But DJing's super fun! I always say I'm a DJ first, producer second, because everything I do with production it's from a DJ's point of view and how it would work on a dancefloor. I love the DJ part, but," he continues, "I don't really love the traveling."
Traveling can be an integral part of a DJ's career. However, despite the jetlag and the rushing through airport security, is the destination better than the journey?
"Berlin's always been really fun… a really trippy city. They'll be like, hey, you want to play from 6 am to noon? And I'm like, yeah, I do! I'll do that. Walk out of there like a fried twig. Also fucking Amsterdam. That place is sick. That club Bret, insane. It's tiny and it sounds great! Right now my focus is releasing on some more labels that are European based so I can come out there more and play ADE and some of the bigger parties out there."
A festival that has always bemused me with awe and wonder is Burning Man. I see it as an ethereal mythical land of which I've heard fond distant stories yet have not had the chance to experience myself. But seeing is believing, right? Lucky for me, I got to hear more stories of the mythical dusty land from Jordan, who managed to find the door to Narnia. Sorry, I mean, the Playa.
"I went with my brother, and then my dad showed up at Burning Man in a khaki suit on Wednesday, and I was just, oh my God. I was like, 'Dad, you didn't get the fucking memo.' Everyone there's running around with nipples out, wearing tutus, and all this crazy shit. It was pretty funny. I got hooked. So I started going every year. I worked with a couple of camps, and then I got adopted by this camp called DISTRIKT, and we're the largest day party at Burning Man. It's anywhere between five to 12,000 people a day that come in and out of our camp. It's a little bit like Mad Max-style partying."
From his first dust-covered experience, he's evolved into a sand-seasoned Burner veteran. Beyond the timeless memories, his work with DISTRIKT has evolved into much more. DISTRIKT is a non-profit organization that supports artists by giving them a platform to grow.
"When I started meeting them at first, I was like, you guys have a great brand. We should start a label or something. And they were like, 'Okay, let's talk about it.' A week later, they called me back. They were like, 'okay, let's do this.' We set it all up and we've been working since. And right now we're actually about to launch like eight or ten events right before Burning Man and we have a bunch of others coming up this year. And we have some really cool releases coming out on the label now too."
But beyond the studio, the DJing, the producing, and the playa, I asked Jordan what he gets up to away from it all.
"Probably learning stuff on YouTube or fishing, one of the two. It doesn't take a lot to keep me happy. I like to do this stuff, and then I need some other activities outside of the music world to center my focus. There's a saying, if you want to cut down a tree, you need to step away to sharpen your blade. So, doing this all the time, kind of drains me of all my creative juices."
I find it fascinating how when one removes themselves from a situation in which they feel pressure to create, produce or be constructive, it causes the opposite. From a personal standpoint, I find that when I'm working out, gardening, horse-riding, or doing anything that induces a meditative trance, the ideas somehow flow through to me.
"Oh, 100%! When I'm out in the water, it's that whole concept of doing something and not really thinking too much about it. And it just kind of passes, ideas will kind of just come into your head. And when we're fishing and stuff, we'll be playing music and talking shit with your friends, smoking weed, whatever the fuck. And then I'll sometimes just get ideas in my head and I'll just pull my phone out, write it down real quick, or I'll make a voice note or something. I just notice when I stay in this studio too long, and I don't get out, that's when things get a little stale."
Keep the fishing up, m.O.N.R.O.E., because whatever you're doing out on that water is working! The rest of this year is predictably jam-packed; I almost worry he might not have time to get out his pole and line! With gigs coming up in Argentina, Brazil, and Europe, but "only for like three weeks this summer just because of me being an American artist, things are kind of busy for me over here," DISTRIKT playing in New York, San Francisco, Montreal at Stereo and Vegas! Oh, and not forgetting his monthly party in Miami, "Private Parts"... Mind out the gutters, please!
There is so much going on in the life of m.O.N.R.O.E. that it really could take any direction. However, I was curious to learn what the big dream truly is.
"Just start up a successful event with a good label, tour as much as possible. I would like to win a Grammy one day for stuff outside of dance music, but who knows? If I'm enjoying it, I'm gonna keep doing it, see where it takes me. You never really know where it's gonna lead. The best part of the adventure is the journey there."
Unlike his travels across the globe, Jordan seems to enjoy the journey rather than overthinking about the destination. We look forward to seeing what comes next on his path to the Grammy. See you on the Playa, m.O.N.R.O.E!