Photo: press

Introducing: montykeates

As trends continue to evolve and videos reach people all across the world, Monty Keates, professionally known as montykeates, emerges as a captivating force. Amassing one million followers on Tik Tok, and a flair for being able to captivate audience in the digital age, Monty has become a figure in the platform’s landscape. His engaging and relatable content has earned him a dedicated following. And now as he steps into the world of music, having come off his first-ever tour and released two singles, Monty Keates has even more to offer his audience with his artistic expression of music. 

September of this year saw Monty go on his first-ever tour, supporting South Arcade on their headline run in Birmingham, Manchester, and London. This was all before the release of his debut single, “PANIC!” “The tour was the most nerve-wracking thing, but I have never felt such euphoria like being up there,” he explains. “To be honest, after the first show, I didn’t think I could do it again. I am quite shy and it was a serious leap out of my comfort zone. I pushed through though, and those last two shows, especially playing Camden Assembly, was like something I’ve never felt before.”

From these shows, there were two things in particular that Monty took away, and felt that for future shows, these could be applied. “The main thing I learned is that I just have to have fun,” Monty said. “I overthought the first show so much, and then realised that all I have to do is enjoy myself, and people get to enjoy themselves with me.”

“Also I learned to trust myself, big time! I had those inner saboteur voices of self-doubt, but I just had to trust that it was holding me back, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Describing his music as “Hyper-rock” which is “something you have to hear for yourself,” Monty describes, “For me, it is the crazy drum and bass, modulated vocals, camp high energy mixed with the heavy guitar tones, the rock attitude and most importantly the place where the music comes from inside me.” His debut single, “PANIC!”, performed at the live shows, came about from the help of producer Sam Ellwood. “I had made so many songs, even finalized a whole other rock EP, then one day we were playing around with the idea of Drum and Bass and Rock as a pairing,” said Monty as he explained the creative process. “We were highly caffeinated and throwing so many random ideas out there, we wanted weird vocals, sections that didn’t feel like they matched and we wanted the song to feel like an amalgamation of genres.” 

“As soon as we played with those sounds, I wrote “PANIC!”, a song about my struggles with my mental health and addiction, which we turned into this high energy, upbeat but also hard-hitting and emotional song. As soon as we finished it I had chills, I knew it had to be the first. It felt like the perfect way to properly introduce myself to the world. raw and honest, but still fun fun fun!”

When it came to writing and recording the second single, “Lose My Head,” “We [Monty and producer Sam] had a little therapy session in our music sessions. We just got talking about those kinds of untouchable dating scenarios, the self-preservation, and whatnot, then we listen to songs that make us excited, sounds that feel new and interesting, and just got to work laying stuff down!”

In celebration of the release, Monty held a release party with friends, with a large turnout of people showing their support. “It was one of those times where I had to step back and watch all the people there to support me and take in a moment of gratitude,” expressed Monty proudly. “Everyone looked like they had a great time which is all I wanted. When the track played the energy was magnetic, dancing with people I love to a song so important to me was genuinely adorable. I got a bit emotional.” 

Closing off his year with the release of “Lose My Head”, all Monty wants to do is to push himself and his sound as far as they can go. “I wanted to set the tone and show people that my music isn’t gonna be as orthodox as maybe people would expect. I think “Lose My Head” is a good example of what I mean when I say “hyper rock.” 

Now having released two singles so far, and being able to do this as an artist, other than releasing music into the world, it was gaining more confidence and being able to perform live is something that Monty thought he would not have been able to do before. “I feel like every time I play live I will unlock more levels to my confidence. I see it as an opportunity to grow, which used to scare me, but now it’s all I want to do.”

From releasing his singles within the space of a few months to having performed live for the first time, when times get stressful or aspects of life may not go to plan, it’s the simple things like drawing that help Monty Keates bring back some motivation. “I love to draw, not necessarily good at it, but I do love a random sketch!” he said. “I created the artwork on the “PANIC!” cover. I get to not be perfect at it, but still be creative. It’s sort of a creative trust exercise for me. If I ever feel unmotivated and stuck in a negative mindset I just like to draw some random waffle and trust that what I create is what’s meant to be made and I can love it for what it is! I can then sort of transfer that thought process to music, trust that what I’m making will come out right!”

As well as drawing, Monty has found that journaling has been a huge help when it comes to expressing his feelings and emotions. “It sounds so cliche, but if you don’t do it, you should so try it. Sit there and write literally whatever comes to mind, let that running monologue in your head out into paper and I promise after a while you will want to write the positives way more, and you’ll start to focus on the positives way more!”

In a world where social media can be at the forefront of many people’s lives, the importance of authenticity can get lost. But for Monty, this is a huge part of what he does, in both creating his content on TikTok, himself, and the music he creates. “For music, I think it’s the most important part. With social media, you can get by with just giving people the surface level of things, not that that’s a bad thing! I think with music, people deserve more from you, and you owe it to yourself to be completely authentic to give yourself the chance to explore all the parts of you that music is hiding in!”

Surrounding himself with a positive support system has and will continue to help Monty navigate through the industry, which he is fairly new. “I am so blessed to have the people around me that I do. My family and friends do nothing but support me and keep me pushing in the right direction,” explained Monty. “I think a lot of my advice comes from myself, somehow… I spend a lot of my time journalling and reflecting on my experiences, if you read it you would know far too much about me. A lot of my random epiphanies come when I am just sitting with my emotions and working out what to do next. I said this earlier but I think the best thing I ever realized in terms of advice is the fact that I am just here to have fun, life gets to be fun! That is such a blessing and something I can’t believe I didn’t realize sooner.”

“Long story short. Life is fun, we get to have fun, even a tube journey can be fun, and I love it.” 

Some that has inspired him though and has shaped him into the person he is today is his little sister, Queenie. “She helped me through my coming out experience, which I think shaped me so significantly. She was the first to paint my nails, the first person I came out to, she embraced all parts of me with no questions asked. I don’t think she realizes just how much she helped me. Genuinely, she saved me.”

What’s important is being able to take all the experiences, whether good or bad and use them as motivation to push through. Life isn’t easy but as long as personal growth is shown, that’s some sort of development in the right direction. Putting himself out there on TikTok, compared to uploading his very first video to now, Monty has noticed a change. 

“I first started to grow on social media when I was 16/17. I posted singing videos that I loved and then comedy stuff on the side,” Monty mentioned. “The comedy videos took off and that was the direction I thought people wanted. I think having a social media platform from such a young age wasn’t the best for me mentally, and personally. A lot of my identity felt constructed, and I wasn’t aware of it until I took a little step back from it at the start of 2022. I realized a lot of the things I was doing weren’t for me, and after stepping back a bit I fell back in love with the things I enjoyed. My music, my style, and my energy finally felt more my own again. It took me a while to shed off all the expectations of what I thought people wanted from me and started giving them what I wanted from me. I would never want it any other way.”

“I think there’s nothing more beautiful than the fact that I get to pursue what I love, with the people I love!!”

The journey of self-discovery has been an important one to Monty, especially with the vulnerability of putting content out online for the world to see. “It’s been the best thing about my journey,” expressed Monty. “I feel so grateful to be so assured in myself. Growing up queer makes you build up some parts of yourself that aren’t entirely you, and my self-expression has been such an outlet for fishing out those parts of me that I built up to keep that false sense of security and be nothing but unapologetically my authentic self. It is so important to me. To then put that out into the world, in hopes of helping other people to follow suit. It’s been incredible.” 

In the world of social media and music, Monty Keates holds a desire to see a world filled with more compassion. “We see far too little of it nowadays. Social media can be a very negative place and sometimes I think people forget that we’re all trying our best, and all deserve to be treated with love and respect.” He is also a passionate advocate for genre-bending in music, and its ability to give artists the freedom to experiment with influences and genre. “In terms of music, I am seeing so much genre-bending!! I love it. People aren’t afraid to put their spin on things, and that’s how art grows! It’s sick, music has evolved in such an incredible way through time, and I feel like we’re in a very significant shift of sound right now.”