MonoNeon

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Dywane Thomas Jr.
Dywane Thomas Jr. ("MonoNeon", formerly known as "Polyneon")
Background information
Also known asMonoNeon
Polyneon
Dwayne Thomas
DJ
Born (1990-08-06) August 6, 1990 (age 33)
Memphis, Tennessee
Genres
Occupations
  • Musician
  • singer
  • composer

Dywane Thomas Jr. (born August 6, 1990), professionally known as MonoNeon, is an American bassist, experimental musician, singer and songwriter. His work, spanning multiple experimental projects and collaborations, including with American musician Prince, has seen an online cult following.[1] Thomas was the last bassist Prince hired before his death in 2016,[2] and he additionally played bass on American singer Ne-Yo song "Makin' A Movie" released in 2010.[3] MonoNeon also played bass on Georgia Anne Muldrow's EP "Ms. One" (2014). He has since become known for his videos that harmonize viral videos with basslines, and his compositions that utilize microtonality.[4] He is a native of Memphis, Tennessee.[5]

Early life[edit]

Thomas was raised in a musical family, the son of a bass guitarist.[6] He began playing bass at the age of four years, independent of formal lessons (self-taught).[7] When he was about 11 or 12 years old, he performed with Bar-Kays, playing bass guitar.[8]

Education[edit]

During his brief stay at Berklee College of Music he shared the stage with David Fiuczynski. After his departure from Berklee in 2010, Thomas went to Los Angeles to perform with Fiuczynski and Alex Bailey (drummer) at the Musicians Institute and The Baked Potato.[9][10]

Professional background[edit]

Playing style[edit]

While Thomas is right-handed, he plays left-handed on an upside down right-handed bass guitar, which allows him to use heavy string bending on the upper strings. Thomas' slapping style/technique is unique because he is executing everything upside-down, while traditionally using the thumb for slaps and fingers for pops. He also uses fingers and palm-muting to create what can be described as a warm, muffled timbre, as well as for maximum control of the length or sustain of notes. In a free/improvisational setting, listeners may hear the use of Indian melodic inflections and ornaments in Thomas' playing, including the use of gamakas. Another trademark is his use of randomness and mistakes in performance, taking unintentional ideas made in error, and spontaneously turning them into useable or intentional material.[11][12]

Thomas' overall playing style on bass can be described as "funky with unusual characteristics". Marcus Miller, among others, has praised his unique playing style. His musical background is heavily influenced by Southern soul, blues and funk.[13] In a Bass Player magazine interview, Miller mentioned Thomas as one of several "young bad cats" he has met on the scene.[14]

In 2009, Thomas was featured on the GospelChops Bass Sessionz Vol.1 project with Andrew Gouche, Hadrien Feraud, Damian Erskine, Janek Gwizdala, Anthony Nembhard, and Robert "Bubby" Lewis.[15][16]

In 2010, Thomas played bass on the Libra Scale album by Grammy Award-winning artist Ne-Yo,[17] and the album Directions by Forest Won with Georgia Anne Muldrow.[18][19] Thomas was featured in the article, "Bass to the Future", in issue 52 of the UK Bass Guitar magazine.[20]

In 2012, Thomas joined David Fiuczynski and Planet Microjam.[21][22][23] Also in 2012, he released his solo avant-garde album, Down-to-Earth Art as MonoNeon.[24]

MonoNeon's YouTube bass cover videos of Sonic The Hedgehog Green Hill Zone Theme and the theme song to the Martin Lawrence Show were featured on NoTreble.[25][26]

In early 2013, Thomas released an album called Southern Visionary under the pseudonym MonoNeon. This album features several microtonal musicians.[27][28] He also released an album entitled Uncle Curtis Answered The Lobster Telephone.[29][30]

MonoNeon performed with 2010 Grammy nominee Sheri Jones-Moffett during the Recording Academy Chapter 40th Anniversary Celebration at Levitt Shell.[31]

MonoNeon teamed up with producer Kriswontwo to release an EP called, WEON.[32][33][34][35]

July 2014, MonoNeon made his debut performance as the bassist for Screaming Headless Torsos at Jalisco Jazz Festival in Mexico.[36]

July 7, 2018, MonoNeon played a show with Joe Russo and Eric Krasno billed as (nO*sO*nO*). While the three musicians have played together on many occasions in various other supergroup formations, this marked the first performance as a dedicated trio under this moniker. For most of the two-set performance, surprise guest keyboardist Peter Levin (Gregg Allman Band) played on several numbers. Relying heavily on improvisation, (nO*sO*nO*) dug deep into the funk, jazz, and psychedelic rock catalogs. Covers of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Manic Depression”, The Beatles‘ “Get Back”, Billy Cobham‘s “Stratus”, and John Scofield‘s “Hottentot”, appeared throughout the free-flowing jams and captivated the audience with their supersonic chemistry.

For the 65th Grammys MonoNeon has been Grammy nominated for his work on Cory Henry's album, "Operation Funk" (Best Progressive R&B Album nomination). MonoNeon is one of the writers, guitarist and bassist on the songs "Ecstasy" and "The Line".[37]

Experimental works[edit]

Thomas' experimental approach has been compared to the 20th century composer John Cage .[38] The idea of conceptual art plays a role in his musical compositions, as reflected in his early 2011 recordings. Thomas began developing an idea of bass accompanying improvisations with an AM/FM radio. The improvisations/compositions are based on radio art, some of which can be heard on his album entitled Introspection of PolyNeon. The "Polyneon" concept is something Thomas created through introspection and when he stopped thinking about the goal of becoming or being a great musician.[39][40]

Thomas is notable for his "readymade bass", inspired by his love for Dadaism and other avant garde art movements. The primary characteristics of the "readymade bass" is the ordinary sock covering the entire headstock and the name "Polyneon" on the body of his bass. The use of colorful duct tape and other mundane items upon his basses has become a defining visual style for Thomas.[41][42][43]

MonoNeon was featured in the January/February 2013 issue of Dig! Magazine, a Winnipeg jazz magazine.[44]

MonoNeon's microtonal works and art manifesto were mentioned on The Rest Is Noise, a website by Alex Ross, a music critic who regularly writes for The New Yorker.[45]

One of MonoNeon's bass cover videos performing KNOWER's arrangement/medley of Lady Gaga songs was voted Top 10 most watched video on NoTreble (March 2014).[46]

A microtonal bass built for MonoNeon by Tim Cloonan of CallowHill Guitars was featured on NoTreble as Bass of the Week. The bass is built to play quarter tones.[47]

In 2021 MonoNeon teamed up with Davy Nathan and released "Supermane", a full length album featuring 8 tracks. The track "Done with the B-S", a duet with MonoNeon and Ledisi was featured in Rolling Stone magazine.[48] The album was produced, written and recorded in Nathan's studio in Los Angeles. They describe the album as a step outside of the vocal comfort zone of MonoNeon.

Working with Prince[edit]

In 2015 MonoNeon began playing bass with Prince and his protégé, Judith Hill. Some of the live shows have been at Paisley Park.[49][50][51]

On 11 January 2016, Tidal released the track Ruff Enuff by MonoNeon, only four and a half days after its initial recording. The instrumental track features Prince as producer and on keyboards. The following day, the track was replaced with a vocal version with lead vocals on vocoder by Adrian Crutchfield.[citation needed]

The linernotes provided with the track state:

You may recognize Kirk A Johnson on drums, Mono Neon on bass and Adrian Crutchfield on sax and electric woodwinds as the house band 4 Prince’s Paisley Park After Dark Jam Sessions. Well, that’s not all they do. 4 the past week they’ve been cutting basic trax 4 their as yet untitled debut album. With Prince producing and handling the keyboard & guitar duties, the set promises 2 b picking up right where Judith Hill’s BACK IN TIME left off. These brothas murder the funk! Normally they wouldn’t let a track out until it’s finished, but this one had 2 go! It was ruining everybody’s good loox. If U think U can resist the funk, check out the key change of Mono’s bass solo at near 4 o'clockmark.[52]

When Prince wasn't playing his solo piano shows, he was breaking in a new band at Paisley Park with MonoNeon as his new bassist.[53][54]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • "Polyneon" (2010)
  • "Introspection of PolyNeon" (2011)
  • "Noise Catharsis" (2011)
  • "Johnnie Taylor and John Cage" (2011)
  • "The Kitschy EP" (2011)
  • "MonoNeon" (2012)
  • "Ming Neon" (2012)
  • "Down-to-Earth Art" (2012)
  • "Southern Visionary" (2013)
  • "Uncle Curtis Answered The Lobster Telephone" (2013)
  • "John Cage on Soul Train" (2014)[55]
  • "MonoNeon Plays Speech" (2015)
  • "Selfie Quickie" (2015)
  • "Selfie Quickie 2wooo" (2017)[56]
  • "Welcome 2 Whateva The Fyuck" (2017) [57]
  • A Place Called Fantasy (2017) [58]
  • "I Don't Care Today (Angels & Demons in Lo-Fi)" (2018)
  • "My Feelings Be Peeling" (2019)
  • "Living The Best And Worst Life At The Same Damn Time!" (2019)
  • "Toxic Wasteland 2 The Hills" (2020)[59]
  • "Banana Peel on Capitol Hill" (2021)
  • "Gospel According to the Little Green Man - EP" (2021)
  • "Supermane" (2021)[60]
  • "Basquiat & Skittles Album" (2021)
  • "Put on Earth for You" (2022)
  • "There Goes That Man Again Turning Water Into Gin & Juice" (2022)
  • Jelly Belly Dirty Somebody (2023)
  • Wonderland's Disaster Queen EP (2023)

With Ne-Yo[edit]

  • "Libra Scale" (2010)

Bass on "Making A Movie"

With Georgia Anne Muldrow[edit]

  • "Ms. One" (2014)[61]

With Prince[edit]

With WEON[edit]

  • "WEON" (2013)
  • "Neon the Won" (2015)[64]

With Mac Miller[edit]

MonoNeon played bass on the song, "Complicated" [65]

With Matt Johnson (Jamiroquai's keyboardist)[edit]

  • "With The Music" (2020)

MonoNeon played bass on the songs "With The Music" and "The Freedom" [66]

With Nas[edit]

Bass on "All Bad" and credited as 'MnoNeon' for additional producer

With Knower[edit]

  • Knower Forever (2023)

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "New Power Generation-Mono Neon (Bass)". newpowergeneration.net
  3. ^ "Ne-Yo Libra Scale". allmusic.com
  4. ^ "I can't get enough of this weird trend where people make music out of other people talking". mashable.com
  5. ^ "David Fiuczynski's MicroJam". ragman.org
  6. ^ Staff, Flyer. "Soul, Italian-Style | Music". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  7. ^ "Dywane "MonoNeon" Thomas Jr." genzbenz.com
  8. ^ "Creative solutions since 1998 – Artists / Partners". Nichelson Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  9. ^ "LA Jazz / About & Out". Lajazz.com. May 10, 2010. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  10. ^ "David "Fuze" Fiucynski Concert and Clinic | May 13, 2010 | News & Events at Musicians Institute". Mi.edu. May 13, 2010. Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  11. ^ August 4, 2011 (August 4, 2011). "BPU Exclusive Lessons- PolyNeon's grooves with gamakas – Bass Players United" Archived January 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. bassplayersunited.com
  12. ^ "EBS Sweden AB (artists)" Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine www.ebs.bass.se
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  14. ^ "Marcus Miller Reaches Wider Than Ever With 'Marcus', Chris Jisi". Bassplayer.com. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
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  18. ^ "Forest Won – Directions by Forest Won (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  19. ^ Ivan Guerrero (September 6, 2010). "Find new DIRECTIONS". The Male Model Music Project. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  20. ^ "Issue 52". Bassguitarmagazine.com. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
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  23. ^ "Gezmataz Festival 2012" jazzitalia.net
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  25. ^ Kevin Johnson (October 25, 2012)."MonoNeon: Sonic the Hedgehog “Green Hill Zone” Theme" Notreble.com
  26. ^ Kevin Johnson (March 24, 2013). "MonoNeon: Theme Song to the Martin Lawrence Show" Notreble.com
  27. ^ Kevin Johnson (January 9, 2013). "MonoNeon Releases “Southern Visionary” Notreble.com
  28. ^ Meredith McLean (March 26, 2013). "Album Review: MonoNeon – Southern Visionary (2013 LP)" theaureview.com
  29. ^ "HYBRIDA. radio show – playlist 94° puntata" hybridaspace.org
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  31. ^ "Gospel Singer Sherri Jones – Moffett at the Recording Academy 40th Anniversary" thefrontlinemusic.com
  32. ^ "MonoNeon and Kriswontwo Release “WEON” notreble.com.
  33. ^ "Crazy week, 3 new releases" Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine kriswontwo.com
  34. ^ "Bassist MonoNeon Latest EP WEON with Producer Kriswontwo" bassmusicianmagazine.com
  35. ^ "Kriswontwo x MonoNeon: WEON" djkoolemdee.blogspot.com
  36. ^ "Review: Mexico’s Jalisco Jazz Festival A July 4th weekend of Latin-infused cosmopolitanism" jazztimes.com
  37. ^ "MonoNeon Receives Grammy Nomination for His Work on Cory Henry’s 'Operation Funk'". bassmagazine.com
  38. ^ "Dywane Thomas Jr. Releases "Aleatorick and Indeterminacy"". Notreble.com. April 20, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  39. ^ Stanton Lawrence (July 29, 2011). "Album Review – Polyneon – Introspection – Bass Players United" Archived March 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. bassplayersunited.com
  40. ^ Corey Brown (November 21, 2011). "Top Ten: The Jeroen Paul Thesseling Interview, Playing As One, the Best Bass Cover Tunes, Plus the Top Bass Videos". Notreble.com
  41. ^ "CD Baby | Artist Details". cdbaby.com
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  44. ^ Karl Kohut."Dwayne “MonoNeon” Thomas Jr". digmagazine.ca
  45. ^ "A-AW8: The higher crossover". therestisnoise.com
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  48. ^ "Song You Need to Know: MonoNeon, 'Invisible'". rollingstone.com. 10 November 2020.
  49. ^ "Prince serenades Madonna at late-night Paisley Park gig". madonnaunderground.com
  50. ^ "Prince throws 3-hour concert/party for champion Lynx at Paisley Park". startribune.com
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  52. ^ "PURPLE PICK OF THE WEEK: “RUFF ENUFF". Tidal.com
  53. ^ "Hiding in plain sight – why I spent a lifetime chasing Prince". telegraph.co.uk
  54. ^ "Prince throwing a pair of pajama parties Friday and Saturday at Paisley Park" Startribune.com
  55. ^ "MonoNeon Releases New Duo Project, John Cage on Soul Train". bassmusicianmagazine.com
  56. ^ "MonoNeon Releases 2017 EP 'Selfie Quickie 2wooo' (LISTEN)". bassplayer.com
  57. ^ [1]. liveforlivemusic.com
  58. ^ [2]. okayplayer.com
  59. ^ [3]. bandcamp.com
  60. ^ "MonoNeon Releases 'SUPERMANE' Studio Album Feat. Cory Henry, Ledesi, More". Live For Live Music. 21 March 2021.
  61. ^ Kevin Johnson (July 5, 2014) "Georgia Anne Muldrow Releases “Ms. One” with MonoNeon". notreble.com
  62. ^ "Ruff Enuff - Prince Vault". princevault.com
  63. ^ "MonoNeon Releases Instrumental Track "Ruff Enuff" With Prince (LISTEN)". bassplayer.com
  64. ^ KARASLAMB "WEON (MonoNeon x Kriswontwo) Present ‘Neon The Won’ EP [STREAM]". okayplayer.com
  65. ^ "How MonoNeon Ended Up On Mac Miller’s Posthumous Album, ‘Circles’". liveforlivemusic.com
  66. ^ "With The Music, by Matt Johnson". Matt Johnson. Retrieved 2023-09-21.