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MonoNeon on Preparing for Prince


If you’ve been reading No Treble for a while, you’ll recognize MonoNeon. The singular musician pushes the boundaries of his art with a manifesto that includes wearing high-visibility clothing with polychromatic color schemes, and his bass playing will leave your jaw on the floor. MonoNeon, aka Dywane Thomas Jr., has been working with another outspoken musician: Prince.

“I was invited by Prince a while back to work with Judith Hill to be her bassist for live shows, performing at Paisley Park and opening for Prince at Fox Theatre Detroit,” he tells No Treble. “Recently I was invited back to jam with Prince and it has been amazing. Working with Prince is an endless learning experience, always reaching for something higher than before… it’s a lot of inspiration! And definitely funky!”

And what does it take to play with such a musical icon? We asked MonoNeon to weigh in on what it takes to prepare for Prince, and he had some good pointers:

  1. You have to learn songs, learn songs quickly, retain the arrangements… and learn more songs!
  2. Of course playing your part is important in the music, but there is also freedom that is giving to add your identity to it.
  3. There will be a time to stretch out and do your thing… just wait and listen.
  4. Your ears must stay open, no slouching and don’t get too comfortable.
  5. Keep yourself alert on everything… verbal directions, gestures, etc.
  6. Being in the moment and embracing the moment to it’s full possibilities is one of the essential attributes playing with Prince (at least for me).

There’s no official video of MonoNeon’s gig with Prince yet, but check out this clip of MonoNeon working with Judith Hill’s live band: