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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – Faculty
Monday, January 14, 2008

Trigonometry and Damon Mondell

Ever since meeting through producer E Dub in 1994, Oxnard, California, natives Trigonometry and Damon Mondell, better known as the singularly named Hip-Hop duo Faculty, have been giving listeners a taste of a completely different O.C. than most are used to hearing about. Late in 2007, after pressing up three 12 inch singles that created a buzz on the college radio scene, the duo released their first full length album, Phar From Home. This week I caught up with Mondell to get some more information about the group, including why he and Trig decided to work together, what he means when he says they look to create “good Hip-Hop music,” and the daily tasks that come with running their label D&H Records. With much respect to all the teachers of the world, this might be the most interesting Faculty meeting in recorded history.

Adam Bernard: What were the circumstances that led to you and Trig deciding to write music together?
Damon Mondell: We both started seeing more and more of one another because of the studio run-ins and a friend of mine who also recorded music was starting to deal more with Trig's manager. In ‘95 I believe Trig’s manager said that ASCAP was holding auditions to be in there new talent showcase so we all drove down to LA for the audition. Now at this time everyone was auditioning as a solo artist it was Damon, Trig, JC & Johnny Quest. We all went one after another and as we were doing our thing we were supporting each other from the side and the judges said can you all just put your music together and perform the showcase as one? We said hell yeah and at that point we formed a group called Red Zone Fam. The group went on to land an indie deal in 1997 and then signed to a major in 1998 but nothing came from it and in 1999 it was time for a change so Trig and myself started Faculty.

Adam Bernard: You state that your goal is to create “good Hip-Hop music.” What qualities do you feel make for good Hip-Hop music and how much of it do you feel is being made today?
Damon Mondell: The qualities of good music include saying something to help the cause, whatever it may be, good production, lyrics, flow, content, and creativity. Good music isn't hard to find on the indie scene, but you also have some not so good music on the indie scene, as well. Technology makes it easy for someone who started to listen to Hip-Hop on Monday make a song on Tuesday. As far as the mainstream goes it’s not music anymore it’s who can take the same song I just did and market it differently. The music sounds the same. Now on the flip side of that coin I am proud to see Hip-Hop come as far as it has because if it wasn't as loud as it is now then we as the Hip-Hop community would be complaining and searching for a voice to be heard by the masses. I just wish it was good music bleeding through those radio airwaves.

Adam Bernard: There definitely seems to be a lack of good Hip-Hop music right now. Are fewer groups making it, or is it just harder to find?
Damon Mondell: Fewer groups are making it on the major level, but many good groups are coming out on the indie scene, there are just less consumers buying the indie material because of its market being broke, like college students. I do see some of the major corporate America companies coming in and partnering up with us, though, so that is a good start, but not everyone can rap because its going to leave us with watered down music and no fans. Unfortunately we have kids growing up thinking that rap is a well paid career. It can be, but in most cases it takes time to get there.

Adam Bernard: Other than simply by making good music, how else do you feel you two stand out from other artists?
Damon Mondell: We are Hip-Hop in all aspects. We give you that glimpse of what Hip-Hop was like in the late 80's and early 90's cuz believe me it was beautiful. Our experience also helps us stand out. We are also realistic about the game and what it can offer and make good business decisions. We have things to speak on because of what we have been through and are still going through.

Adam Bernard: Let's talk about your name for a minute. Faculty is term associated with teaching. In what ways do you feel you're teachers?
Damon Mondell: We feel that we are teachers because we are from that old school generation like Large Professor, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, and many other greats. We were taught by the raw school so we are well trained and prepared to teach and speak to the new generation and get down with the best of them.

Adam Bernard: You two started your own independent record label, D&H Records, in 2004. What was the process of starting your own label like?
Damon Mondell: Hectic but worth it. We were tired of shopping deals. We did that so much before with Red Zone that we did not want to waste our energy doing that again, so we figured why not put it into running our own label? It can be a crazy job as well as a rewarding job. Not only are we responsible for writing, recording and performing the music, but now we are responsible for copywriting the music, publishing and licensing, marketing, manufacturing and packaging, and the list goes on.

Adam Bernard: What kind of hurdles did you have to jump and roadblocks did you run into?
Damon Mondell: Money, money, money. It set us back in areas for releasing material on time, reaching more regions for marketing and radio, having the best ad campaigns, hiring publicists, and the list goes on, but somehow we are still here. In addition to the label we have our own tour booking company where we’ve book shows/events/tours for ourselves as well as Jeru the Damaja, Pseudo Slang, Myka 9, Trek Life, Oddisee, Kev Brown, Wildchild, MED and many others.

Adam Bernard: Finally, I know there are plenty of MCs who read this site who’d be interested in knowing what you look for in an artist. Can you break it down for them?
Damon Mondell: I look for quality, production, originality, content and I ask myself if I am a fan of his or her material, but I would also rather work with artists who are self motivated and responsible to make scheduled dates. When you are investing money into a project you can't afford for the artist to be a liability. Right now I have my eye on one artist from Oxnard name POK Dog. I have always been a fan of his music.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/dhrecords805
MySpace: myspace.com/faculty805

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