Colin Munroe
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Colin Munroe


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A wonderful Canadian artist by the name of Colin Munroe has done a wicked reinterpretation of Kanye's Lights Flashin' - complete with dope ass video.


Thursday January 17, 2008 @ 06:30 PM
By: Staff

Colin Munroe

Ottawa artist/producer Colin Munroe's horizons will be broadened significantly after Toronto independent label Marked Music signed a worldwide joint venture deal with Grammy Award-winning producer Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records.

Munroe's Don't Think Less Of Me was originally supposed to be released last year, but was held back. It will be issued by Marked/Fontana North in Canada, and other territories will put it out through the Rowdy venture.

While Munroe first made a name for himself as one of Canada's top urban music producers and songwriters while working with Ray Robinson, Blackstreet's Chauncey Black, Glenn Lewis, Divine Brown, Saukrates and Boot Camp Clik's Sean Price, his album is much more pop and rock-oriented. Munroe wrote, arranged, performed and produced the entire thing in his attic studio and at Toronto's Metalworks. It was mixed by Grammy nominee Mark Needham (The Killers, My Chemical Romance).

Austin has worked over the years with Madonna, Gwen Stefani, TLC, Monica, Janet Jackson, Pink, Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men and Usher, among others, but he's obviously not afraid to take a chance on a relative unknown.

"Colin is a one-man band, a great songwriter and a product of the new one music generation," says Austin.

"Dallas has always had a foot in the R&B world and a foot in the rock world, and that’s the path that I'm on," weighs in Munroe on his new deal. "I look forward to learning from him and taking the next steps down that path together."

"Happy," the first official single from Don't Think Less Of Me, is being serviced to Canadian radio stations this week.

- Chart

Kanye West may be one of the most famous pop artists working today, but nobody seems to know much about Colin Munroe. (Sample blog reaction: "First off, who is Colin Munroe?".) A Toronto-based r&b producer and songwriter, Munroe tends toward polished, guitar- and piano-based power pop in his own music, and his debut album as a performer, Don't Think Less of Me, was originally slated to be released last year. He has since hooked up with Dallas Austin, a hitmaker in the 1990s for TLC and Boyz II Men who produced tracks more recently for Sugababes, Pink, and Kelis. Now suddenly Munroe has a video of himself singing all over the instrumental to Graduation's "Flashing Lights".

The clip, which shows Munroe walking darkened city streets with a hood on, is professional if not captivating-- lights, indeed, flash, as Munroe bumps into some passers-by. West's beats get some nicely mellowed tweaks, and Munroe's voice, something like Adam Levine doing a Liam Gallagher impression, is a pleasantly soulful instrument. Of course, "I Want Those Flashing Lights" isn't going to replace the original, and the lyrics don't have much to offer: "What is the secret to these (flashing lights)?/ Is it just make-believe?/ It's not easy/ Wish it was ABC." As we said the last time we posted yet another "Flashing Lights" revamp, we'll take what we can get on this one. The falsetto breakdown at the end is pretty sweet

Colin Munroe has me groovin' today.

"Flashin' Lights" is arguably one of the best tracks on Kanye West's 2007 smash album "Graduation." Written by Kanye West and Eric Hudson, the glistening synth-laden song is a good example of how West has blurred the line between hip hop and mainstream pop.

Candian crooner Colin Munroe now takes the song to a whole new level. He turned West's original into a funky indie pop tune that features his disctinct vocals that are a good match for Kanye's original production and orchestration.

Munroe has been working as a hip-hop producer for years, but has recently started recording as a solo artist, which is "much more in the pop/rock/indie vein of things," according to a press statement. Look out for his album "Don't Think Less of Me" that is scheduled for major release later this year.

And Kanye is digging this new version of "Flashing Lights" too. He just posted the video for the song on his blog. (MP3 posted with full permission.)


Thank goodness Rowdy finally let this video leak. We saw it back in December when they were debating what to do with it since they didn’t officially have Kanye clearance. “Flashing Lights” is our absolute favorite song on the Kanye album but Colin Munroe’s version might actually be better. Plus? Amazing video. Watch now, watch often.

- MTV Subterranean

Hot online music video of Kanye's Flashing Lights creates buzz for Colin Munroe
Lynn Saxberg, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Unless you're a meticulous reader of the liner notes to discs by certain Canadian urban artists, you've probably never heard the name Colin Munroe. Until last week.

A compelling video featuring Munroe's dramatic reworking of the Kanye West track, Flashing Lights, has become the hottest online music video since Alanis Morissette gave a satirical treatment to Black Eyed Peas' My Humps. Like Alanis, Munroe shifts the whole tone of the song with an indie-rock approach that emphasizes the lyrics. Word is, West loved it. He threw it up on his blog last Tuesday.

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton quickly jumped on the unofficial remix, featuring it on Wednesday, marked with the tags, "Kanye West," "listen to this" and "Canadaland," a category that usually highlights news about Pamela Anderson. Hilton's blog gets zillions of hits a day.

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Font:****Around the same time, the head of Munroe's label landed in New York City for meetings concerning his client. Thanks to the traffic generated by Hilton, hits and links were growing by leaps and bounds.

Everyone who followed Munroe's links realized pretty quickly he is not a one-hit wonder working in his mom's basement. In fact, he's a fairly well developed 27-year-old artist, originally from Ottawa, with a track record that includes writing for and producing Canadian urban artists such as Ray Robinson, Saukrates, Glenn Lewis and Divine Brown.

Oh, and his label boss is Dallas Austin, the Atlanta-based Grammy-winning producer who's worked with everyone from Madonna to Pink. Austin signed Munroe to his label, Rowdy Records, last fall.

For the Canterbury High School grad, the timing of the buzz couldn't be better. Munroe's full-length debut, Don't Think Less of Me, is ready to drop, and a Canadian distribution deal is in place with Fontana North. Just as deals are being worked out for the rest of the world, it's the type of exposure that can fuel a career breakthrough.

Wandering through downtown Toronto in hoodie and jeans, Munroe in the video looks a bit like Noel Gallagher while his voice reminds me of the Verve's Richard Ashcroft. What he's done with the music is neat, a melodic concoction of beats, instruments and singing that underscores the tune instead of the rhythm.

Well-spoken and articulate on the phone, Munroe said the West song inspired him the moment he heard it. He made his version, I Want Those Flashing Lights, back in September, not long after West's album, Graduation, was released.

"The song came on, and I just thought, 'Wow, I wonder if I can do something with this.' I just loved it so much," Munroe says. "So I just did it and didn't think anything of it. It's born out of a love for the song and a real respect for him and what he does, and his mixing of genres."

At some point, he says, they decided to make a video for it. "We realized the song was special enough it was worth putting some more time and care into how it was pushed online," he says. Director Philip Sportel came up with the video-game-like concept of being zapped by flashing lights while strolling through the city.
The latest YouTube musical sensation spent his early childhood in the countryside south of Ottawa. His family lived in North Gower before moving across town to Orléans. The oldest of four children, Munroe went to Canterbury to study music, specifically percussion. Because he moved to Toronto in 1999, he was never really part of the Ottawa scene, though he hung out with the Bovas (Phil Sr. and Phil Jr.) enough to get to know his way around a studio.

That came in handy when he moved to Toronto to attend university. In hopes of inching his way into the music biz, Munroe answered a classified ad seeking musical talent, and soon found himself in a studio working with urban artists.

After earning a degree in philosophy and film from the University of Toronto, Munroe knew he still wanted to work on his own material and build a career as an artist -- despite the declining fortunes of the music industry.

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Font:****"I have always felt like I am on this path for a reason," Munroe says, "I've had many circumstances in my own life ... and all the doors have opened. I don't see any reason why some other doors might open to make sure I can survive in this new climate of the music industry in the same way."

He points to versatility as one important trait for artists to cultivate. If income can be generated by writing, producing and performing, one doesn't have to rely on CD sales alone. Of course, it's also helpful to have an instinct for online marketing.

"Me and my managers and the circles we run in have a good understanding of it," Munroe says. "That's our generation. We're the first online kids so I certainly think we've learned a couple of things about how to make use of the Internet."

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

- The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa pop songwriter/performer Colin Munroe has struck gold with his unauthorized remix of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights.” Adding a vocal melody that makes the track sound like Liam Gallagher fronting LCD Soundsystem, Munroe created a video for his version of the song and deposited it on Kanye noticed the buzz about video and added a link from his blog, leaving Munroe’s management scrambling to secure the appropriate rights to give the cover a proper release. Munroe is already working with Grammy Award-winning producer Dallas Austin (TLC, Madonna) for the worldwide release of his debut album Don’t Think Less of Me. The album will be released in Canada through Marked Music (distributed by Fontana North) in March, and Austin and Colin’s management are fielding several offers in the U.S.

- Billboard Magazine

After working behind the scenes, writing and producing for such R&B and hip hop artists as Glenn Lewis, Divine Brown, Saukrates, Ray Robinson, and Brassmunk, this 26-year-old Toronto-based musician is finally pursuing a solo recording career. Playing every instrument, his self-produced debut album, Don’t Think Less Of Me, mixed by Mark Needham (The Killers, My Chemical Romance), is not what one would expect from a guy who has been an important peg in Canada’s urban music community. His songs are pure pop with lyrics that are insightful and thoughtful, sometimes polar to the upbeat sound. From the incongruously chirpy “World of Pain” to the whoa-oh groove of “Will I Stay” to the more wistful and melancholy “Divine” and pounding pop of “One Draw (You Had Me),” it’s not all smiles for Munroe lyrically. After volunteering at a hospice in Calcutta, India in 2004, he realized just how good the lifestyle is in the western world. “I saw a lot of that coming into the music, a frustration with the day to day lifestyle that can be so mind numbing in its comfort, in its luxury, so life sucking. And so there’s a lot of frustration within a lot of the lyrics about that,” he says. - Canadian Musician

He is not at all what I expected. He's slim and easygoing. He has a shy smile and is soft spoken. But at the same time he is entirely casual, entirely at ease, almost unassuming. He's quick to make you feel welcome. And there is an air about him that makes him seem, dare I say, normal.
He's friendly - he actually asks about me. It is such a minute detail, but nonetheless, highly unusual in my line of work. It leaves a small impression on me. The lines between us are blurred, interviewer and interviewee are non-existent as we talk about the simple things - like the signature JXM playing cards (that we give as gifts to interviewees).
But with a simple "what's up?" we slip into interviewee and interviewer mode.
The multi-talented Colin Munroe from small town North Goer has grown up listening to old Chicago and Ry Cooder records. Falling asleep with headphones on at the age of five he names as one of his earliest musical memories. Music has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. Music is so ingrained in him he makes musical connections between his life and musical history. Munroe was born on Paul McCartney's birthday and the year John Lennon died. His parents use to compete in choir competitions in high school and one year in the finals, Munroe's mother beat his father. As a result the trophy was destined to remain in his grandparents' home. The self-taught musician began his career producing for the underground Toronto urban scene. Something he calls an accident - answering an ad in the back of Eye Weekly. That fateful ad led to producing and co-writing 10 songs on the Juno nominated album What It Is by Ray Robinson. To add to Munroe's growing hip hop/R&B repertoire, he's also produced for other locals, Saukarates, Brassmunk, and Divine Brown, among many others.
Though Munroe started his career in the Canadian underground hip hop scene, he's clear when he says that the hip hop style will never make it onto his own records. "It's just not me. I discovered that music later in life, fell in love with it, and it's been a huge influence on me, but it's not me. It wouldn't come across as honest and I think my gift in that area is helping other artists in that genre better realize themselves or help them look at things in a different way or to be creative. My role in that world is much more in the shadows." Although simultaneously, it's difficult to imagine a smalltown white boy in a pop art coloured tee rapping about bling, booty, or breaking. Munroe, instead is intent on remaining honest to himself. With the countless number of musicians who know the "right" thing to say, Munroe somehow feels genuine.
He's the first to admit his social shortcomings, making him easily relatable. There is no rock star bravado, or that holier than thou attitude. "I've always been that kid that people weren't quite sure was going to happen to him. I was never the football player in high school, I was never the popular kid. And it's always kind of stuck with me. And then coming to Toronto and ending up very strangely in the urban music scene where I was very much embraced but still very much the outsider - this little white kid from the country in the studio with all these West Indians - so I was always a bit of the misfit. But I figured at the end of the day I might as well embrace that and turn it into who I am, another bit of my identity."
I ask about those songs he wrote for girls that didn't really notice him. He gives me a sheepish smile. "I always stuck to myself as a kid, and I guess that's just how music started to show itself. It was a kind of way of reaching out to people."
It's clear the sentiment hasn't left him. With his debut album named after the first single Don't Think Less of Me, his lyrics are slightly despondent, one would even say jaded. Yet ironically, his music is fairly upbeat and melodic. "It's actually not pessimistic at all. It's almost ridiculously optimistic. And what it's saying is, there is a lot of bad stuff going on, there is a lot of pain in life but where would you be without that? And didn't that add something so interesting to your character that you couldn't possibly see yourself without it? That, at the end of the day, is what it's about."
"The overall aesthetic of the album has a very sort of happy, upbeat veneer. But underneath that, the lyrical level, is where the context and the questions are. Are we saying anything really worth listening to? In our music - is there really something else we should be focusing on? Do we want to be happy? Do we want to embrace the scars?"
Going beyond his album, he shows a passion for social justice, yet simultaneously he is grounded in the reality of the world. Without the overly idealistic and cookie cutter answers, the aviators that sit atop his head are a far stretch from the rose coloured pair that most in the public eye wear. Rather than trying to win the beauty pageant crown with the typical world peace response, Munroe seems more inclined to live his life like most people. He's very aware of his surroundings but does what he can.
"I cannot realistically justify the amount of money I spend. When you consider where the money could have gone towards otherwise, someone who needs it or someone who could use it for a better purpose. But that doesn't mean we should give up everything we have. We're always going to live with a bit of conflict. I deal with it day to day, almost every decision I make. 'Do I really need this? I want this. Can I go without it? Would I be happier with it?' And in the entertainment industry, it is what it is. I think it'll be a constant battle."
"I think at the end of the day people need to take more responsibility for their place, and for their place in their community and society. I think we'd all like to have organizations that take care of that for us. We would all like to be able to give money to Oxfam and I think those organizations are great. But they're no match for the collective force of human nature. If people are not going to be responsible for themselves on an individual level, you can give all the money you want, but no amount of money is going to make a difference."
The conversation is much more than I expected. His honesty is rather refreshing. I suppose I'm guilty of the same prejudices that he's faced and he is indeed one not to think less of. The lines in the song express both the dark and light of being thought of less than what you are. Maybe if I was a little bit bigger, stronger, wiser and taller, but then the world would prolly only hit my shoulders harder and so much longer.
As I wrap up my last question we slip back into ourselves and no longer do we feel like we are performing for our job.
As we head out of Starbucks he asks for my last name. He says my full name as if he's trying to remember it. Maybe he's just trying to savour the ride. Remember the moment.
Though his music has a certain amount of chrip and jubilance, there's no denying the lyrics are grounded. Nothing is sugar coated nor is the world made into a world of evil. Instead his lyrics illustrate the world as it just is. It's not perfect, it's not easy, but you can feel his love for life, for challenge, and the excitement for growth in his music. Munroe is full of ideas and ambition. Now that his album has been complete he is still aware that life won't be easy from here on in, but all he can do is remain true to himself. Guess whatever way you go is gonna be hard, try hard and what else can they ask of you?


Colin Munroe is a bit of an anomaly. The Ottawa native has been a producer in Canada's urban music scene for a few years, working with such artists as Brassmunk, Saukrates and Divine Brown. But on his debut album, he's essentially the complete opposite of all that: a one-man rock/pop band.
"People on the rock side and people on the urban side of things seem to be respecting it, and that's cool," says Munroe. "I couldn't be happier with that.
"I mean, I'm not going to be Justin Timberlake. That's not me, you know, but I love being part of that music and I seem to have found a knack for at least helping people write and produce in a way that helps them to be that."
Don't Think Less Of Me, written and produced by Munroe, is an introspective look into the life of a guy who literally marches to his own drum.
"I think it's really a commentary on the years of my life up until now, which has been a lot of feeling like the underdog and the kid that wants to try something different in the face of people around you who are like 'don't do that,'" he explains. "I almost think of it as the 'white boy get rich or die trying project.' At the end of the day, I'm just going to try something and whatever happens, happens."
In the video for first single "World Of Pain," the director shot 10,000 photographs of Munroe over two days. It was an idea that just sort of happened, according to the artist.
"I was sitting around with a friend of mine who is an OCAD graduate and he's one of those video guys who's like out there, so I was like, 'That would be really cool if we did a stop motion interpretation of how I made the album,' which was basically in that room using all of those instruments."
If you've seen Munroe perform live, you know that he really is a jack of all trades, which is what he hopes will set him apart from other male solo artists.
"It would always rub me the wrong way if someone were to say, 'Oh, he's just another John Mayer.' I know that Canada hasn't been the friendliest to their pop artists until they go somewhere else. I hope that because of the sort of musically and artistically credible process by which this came together that people will take it seriously and give it a chance."
Ultimately, while Don't Think Less Of Me is the album's title, it's also something Munroe hopes people won't do.
"I think that once you get past the fact that it's a pop project, and just listen to it, I mean I've won people over who are hardcore indie-ites who only listen to music if it's recorded in a garage. And you know, if people just give it a chance, I think they'll see that there's something there."
Munroe will play Ottawa's Rainbow Bistro on Oct. 14 and Toronto's Cadillac Lounge on Oct. 17.


"Piano Lessons feat. Joell Ortiz" Single Released January 2009
"Colin Munroe is the Unsung Hero" Mixtape Released December 2008
"Sunday Bloody Sunday" Single Released August 2008
"Flashing Lights Remix" - January 2008
"World of Pain" Single Released June 2007
"The Colin Munroe EP" - Released September 2006



Artist/Producer Colin Munroe emerged on the scene last January when his remake (and video) of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” exploded online earning kudos from Perez Hilton, Pitchfork, MTV and most importantly, Kanye himself, who featured Munroe’s vocals in his international Glow in the Dark tour. Since signing with Universal Motown in mid ’08, Munroe has been ensconced in studio in Atlanta, GA where, under the tutelage of his label boss, Grammy winning Super-Producer Dallas Austin (Gwen Stefani, Pink, Bjork) he has been putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming debut album. The LP, Don’t Think Less of Me, is almost entirely written, performed and produced by Munroe and draws from his eclectic influences: the Beatles, Lewis Taylor and the production of the late J-Dilla. The result is an Alt/Pop blend that defies traditional categorization. Colin continued to stoke his buzz throughout the summer and fall, leaking several original tracks as well as a cover (and video) of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday which caught the attention of Perez Hilton. In December ’08, Munroe released a mixtape: Colin Munroe is the Unsung Hero. The set (almost entirely comprised of original music) featured appearances from such upcoming talents as Wale, Drake, Blaqstarr and Joell Ortiz as well as production from Black Milk and Dallas Austin. Since its release, the mixtape has earned 70k+ downloads and near universal acclaim, cementing Colin’s reputation as one to watch.