‘Musical duct tape’ in Avon
Vail, CO Colorado
As a young child, musician Michal Menert fled then-communist Poland with his parents. They eventually landed in Fort Collins, where he still lives Saturday. Not surprisingly, growing up a political refugee affected the way Menert views society and his place within it, he said.
“I realized early on that the real opportunity I was given by fleeing to the states was a chance to follow my own dream,” said Menert, who is perhaps best-known for co-producing the Pretty Lights album “Taking Up Your Precious Time” with childhood friend Derek Vincent Smith. “It may sound cheesy, but to me, my family represents the ‘American Dream.’ My mother didn’t speak a word of English when we first arrived. She was busing tables, my father was a janitor. They worked their way up to their dreams, to owning property and traveling the world, my mother got her doctorate … it gave me the confidence to follow my passion for music.”
That passion will be on display Saturday at Agave in Avon when Menert performs with Prepschool and Paul Basic. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door.
As a child, Menert’s music-loving father, a drummer in a rock band in 1970s Poland, exposed him to a wide variety of Eastern and Western music.
“He would bring back stacks of vinyl, and not just the top 40 … he loved avant garde synthesizer sound-scape artists like Klaus Schultze, obscure acts like The Residents,” Menert remembered. “He also exposed me to a lot of great Eastern European music, which I’ve been collecting on vinyl for my own library. He gave me my first Dead Kennedy’s on wax, so he definitely infused me with wide variety of musical styles.”
Menert describes his music as a “sample collage, with electronic texture and modern production.” Though there are some songs in his live set where every sound has been created by him, from guitar and clarinet to keys, he also loves to play other people’s music. Sometimes he’ll use 10 or more samples per song, stealing bits from various genres and eras, to create “a fusion that wouldn’t ever be possible sonically without a time machine and musical duct tape.”
Whereas some electronic producers frown on sampling, Menert disagrees.
“I feel it gives forgotten moments in music a second chance,” he said.
His new solo album, “Dreaming of a Bigger Life,” combines obscure vintage samples from both Eastern European and Western vinyl with organic hard-hitting beats. While Menert was creating the album, he was also taking care of his father as he battled cancer.
“It’s an album about the time in life when the odds are against you,” he said. “I was living at home with him, watching him go through these trials, and he never lost his positive outlook, never gave in. The album worked out almost effortlessly at times in regards to reflecting what I was going through and what I thought he was going through.”
With song titles like “Lights Out” and “Tomorrow May Never Come,” and lyrics such as “I see my coffin coming, I’m leaving in the morning mama, but I don’t know where to go,” and “where do we go when our lights go out?” the album speaks of the uncertainty of tomorrow.
“All of the vocal samples I was coming across touched so close to home,” Menert said.
His father died a week before the album was released.
For Menert, the definition of “a bigger life,” is simple.
“A bigger life is a life without the suffering and inequalities we are surrounded by,” he said. “It was me seeing my father, who had always been a giving, honest man, getting stripped of his quality of life, and dreaming of a world where he was able to reap the benefits of the life he lived. It has nothing to do with money or fame, just the life we feel as a child, where the world seems so big and the possibilities are limitless.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.
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