with Kyle Monday of Carta
Name: Kyle Monday
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?
Kyle – Probably 30. I don’t know that I’d consider myself a professional musician now. I played guitar from a pretty young age, but I was not good at it until I was in my late 20’s, really around the time I went & bought myself a decent electric guitar. It turns out having a guitar you enjoy playing is very important to being able to make music; I’d only had a junky broken electric & a $50 amp before that, & a nylon string classical guitar. Finally I decided to go buy a telecaster & that was that.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Kyle – I think finishing our second album. There were so many times I’d given up this band for dead that I never thought album number two would be finished, or even started. In between the first & the second I had a child & I thought “that’s it for music” in some ways.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Kyle – In my early 30s. About two years after I decided to become a musician! I was very opposed to having a kid before I was about 32 or 33. & it was a good thing, because if I’d had a child when I was younger I would have been a mess as a father. You know when it’s the right time for these things, or hopefully you do.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Kyle – Having a family enforced a certain amount of responsibility & emotional stability on me & that has been good for my music. There is a line of thinking that art of any merit necessarily needs to come from a place of suffering; I was certainly an adherent to that for many years. But you can only chase a dragon for so long before it turns on you. Around the time I finished the first album (The Glass Bottom Boat), I had a son & played a very terrible live show when he was about two months old. I just couldn’t handle being on-stage, surrounded by people, in a bar, etc. That marked the end of one part of my life & the end of one version of the band. I didn’t know if I’d put the record out, or play music again. Of course I did both of those things, but I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t had a son & realized that certain aspects of myself were just not going to do anyone any favors & I had to make some changes & I’m grateful to my family for helping me realize that. Negative? I can’t think of any. It’s kind of impossible to tour. Other than that, nothing.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Kyle – I’ve been lucky that music really doesn’t take up an enormous amount of my time now. We have a studio very nearby where I live, so I’m not traveling long distances for practices. I’m sure my wife would like me to be around more when I make records, but we don’t make them that often. & fully three quarters of this band (me, Sacha, & Gabe) all have children now; four-fifths, if you include Alex (Kort), our sometimes-cello player. So everyone has to be very flexible & open minded about how we schedule things.
QRD – Has your child effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Kyle – There is a song on our next album
called “Hourglass” which I wrote the night my wife told me she was pregnant,
& the new album is dedicated to him & all our children. But
I don’t think it’s, on the whole, terribly child friendly music.
In some respects this version of the band is much heavier than Carta used
to be, it might be the catharsis of getting away from the kids.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Kyle – Music is a side-project for me, since I hold down a day job. But I recently lost my day job (twice in three months) & there were times that I threatened to become a full-time musician. Not in the cards, not with this music. I don’t think I’ve received a single check from ASCAP, conveniently enough. If I had more time I would look into licensing songs for films (rather than giving them away, which I’ve just done, twice). It is depressing to think that the one thing I can do naturally is never going to put food on our table, yes. But I used to write fiction. That was more of a lost cause, I think.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
Kyle – Maybe. But this band was not in a state to tour before I had a kid. & there are so many supplementary people involved in making my records who I can’t nail down on a full-time basis, that I’m not sure a touring version of this band would be artistically faithful to the kind of music I like to produce, you know? But it would have been fun to have toured a stripped down four piece & finish every set with a Black Sabbath cover or something, sure. But with most of the band having children, I don’t know that it will ever be possible. On a limited, coastal basis, probably.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?
Kyle – Being a father, certainly. Most of my community are family people now. Even most of the musicians I used to know are family people now. I feel very detached from the younger scene out here & not in a bad way.
QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become a musician or parent?
Kyle – I hope my child will become a doctor or a lawyer like everyone else, so he can pay to take care of his broke dad!
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Kyle – I’m a father 99.9% of the time. I carefully schedule out the time I spend away; we only practice nights after the kids are in bed, for instance.
QRD – What do your kids think of your music?
Kyle – I’m not sure Ian cares much about my music, I don’t actually play it around him very much! Ian likes weird things. He sings “Womanizer” in the car. He doesn’t like sad music. & most of everything I write sounds sad, so no Carta at home. I played him some stuff from the new record & said, “This is me & Sacha,” & he said it was “scary.” Rightly so.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your child?
Kyle – When he’s older, yes! & I hope to embarrass him as much as I possibly can while doing it.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Kyle – Don’t blow up your worries into insurmountable issues, there is plenty of time for problems when you are an adult. Enjoy your endless days.