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Virtuoso

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MonoNeon – The Luminous One

Hot Cheetos. Not the spicy corn-based snack that was once described by The Washington Post as “something of a cultural phenomenon”.

No, instead I’m referring to the alternative funk-inspired song by artist and bassist MonoNeon or as we call him, the Luminous One.

It was this track that sent me down the rabbit hole and venturing further into his work and his love of bright coloured clothing.

Listening to songs like; Live, Learn, Bye and Fly; Fart When You Pee; and She Was Round and Brown, it was unsurprising to learn that MonoNeon had previously worked with Prince listening to his clear influences in MonoNeon’s work.

Everything from the funky basslines, groove orientated melodies, soulful vocals and experimental elements – all hail back to the Purple One himself.

According to a quick Wiki search, MonoNeon aka Dywane Thomas Jr, started playing bass for Prince back in 2015, working with his protégé Judith Hill and regularly performing at Paisley Park.

In fact, in 2016 a track called Ruff Enuff was released on Tidal, featuring MonoNeon and was produced by Prince. A real throwback to 80’s funk, it feels like a letter from home.

In my search of the Neon one, it also his humour and poking fun at popular culture that has most hooked. His most recent takes include him playing along to the likes of Cardi-B and her viral “Coronavirus!” speech and Joe Biden’s “You anit black” or even the hilarious throwback to James Wright’s review Of Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie!.

While great pop culture moments, it also showcases Neon’s dexterity and agility on the bass. Don’t believe me? Check him out playing with with Ghost-Note Live at the JammJam in Los Angeles. Can anyone say rubber fingers?

Its worth noting that his playing style is pretty unique too. Though right-handed, he plays left-handed upside down on a right-handed bass guitar, which allows him to use heavy string bending on the upper strings.

Honourable mentions for his slightly more of his contemporary, tippy – alternative works are: Your Life Is Wild, Keep Smiling; Am I Trippin’? (Overthinkoverlove); and not sure if this counts but be sure to check out his instrumental with JDilla called Too Much on YouTube.

Keep an eye for his projects – he’s certainly made my list. The easiest way is through his Bandcamp and his socials.

Natalie Bannerman