Mongolian Monkfish
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Mongolian Monkfish

Stamford, Connecticut, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Stamford, Connecticut, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock R&B




"Mongolian Monkfish dive into the New York City music scene"

As Mongolian Monkfish take the stage Nov. 23 at Sullivan Hall, the audience's urge to stand up and dance will be as natural as the force of gravity. Monkfish's fresh, funky and soulful tunes from their yet-to-be-titled album will debut at this popular downtown music venue.
The band consists of New York residents, singer Jamie Khalifa, guitarist Gianni Barbera, bassist Nick Coletti and drummer Sam Lebreton.
Khalifa and Barbera's chemistry on the stage can be seen from a mile away. This duo has been playing together since the early days of high school; both are constantly feeding on each other's ideas and energy.
Coletti and Lebretton also were high school band mates, joining forces with their now singer and guitarist. Their styles fit perfectly with Khalifa's and Barbera's, all of them have a classic funk rock, blues and soulful background.
"The first time we played together was remarkable. I have played with a lot of people before and it usually takes a while to get into the groove of things with musicians that you've never played with before. We were just improvising and jamming the first time we got together, the first thing we played together was gold. We all felt something," Barbera said.
Monkfish have a musical "it" factor that most current popular music lack. This factor is the ability to appeal to a wide range of age groups. "When my father listened to Mongolian Monkfish he said the band has the potential to achieve a rock revival.
He also added that when turning on the radio these days typically one hears commercial lyrics and guitar riffs. These boys have intelligent lyrics mixed with innovative and energetic tones," senior Taedra Podenti said.
Monkfish combine their music inspirations to create their unique style. "In terms of vocal style I learned a lot listening to Jimi Hendrix. There is a conventional soul and funk style in my voice as well, definitely inspired by Marvin Gaye, George Clinton and Michael Jackson. As a band we are inspired by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime and many [1990s] rock bands," Khalifa said.
Monkfish's music is different from any popular music currently out there. Concerning the state of pop music today, Barbera said, "When you turn on the radio these days, it's honestly sometimes God-awful. A lot of bubble gum stuff. They sell sex and the majority of people don't write their own music."
Khalifa was eager to express his opinion on the matter. "It is popular to everyone's ears but mine. There is a serious lack of soul and music talent and it is commercialized. Many of the songs I hear that are dubbed ‘popular' are full of computer-edited auto, the singer's voice seriously altered," he explained.
"Traditionally when we have played publically previously, people don't know what to expect, and then our music speaks for itself," Barbera said predicting how the band will be received by the crowd at Sullivian Hall.
Attendees of the concert on Nov. 23 are likely to be instantly hooked to "Mark Martino" and its 1970s style funky guitar riffs. This song was inspired by the band's good friend Mark Martino.
Monkfish was playing at a party, jamming and experimenting with a new song. Martino could not help but dance to the beat, and from there Khalifa was inspired and started singing about his friend busting a move.
"We had a bunch of people over at Gianni's house that have never heard us before and when we started playing, they were shocked. It was the first time seeing people react to our music like that," Khalifa said.
The song "Girls" was born when Monkfish were at practice and playing around with the bass line of the popular Beastie Boys song of same name. Coletti inverted the baseline, creating a new sound for their own "Girls" song. Barbera fills the song in with background vocals perfectly harmonizing with Khalifa.
"Anyways" is Monkfish's blues ballad, reminiscent of a Beatles meets Janis Joplin type sound. Khalifa erupts in vocal solos as the rest of the band backs him up and th - Pace Press

"Rock of Ages"

It takes playing small gigs at small clubs in front of tough crowds. It takes long days of practice and precious optimism. And it takes constant reinvention. Just ask Mongolian Monkfish, a group of Greenwich High School buddies who’ve graduated into the crowded Metro New York music scene. The Horn-laden funk sextet started as four neighborhood friends – vocalist Jamie Khalifa, bassist Nick Coletti, drummer Sammy Lebreton and guitarist Gianni Barbera – riffing on a Southern California reggae-rock.
“What we originally wanted to do was pretty easy with the four of us, but over the years we got bored with it,” said Lebreton. “We wanted to fill out our sound a little more, so we started experimenting.”
As they played shows in small venues throughout Fairfield County and New York, their sound, infulenced by other bands they met along the way, began to revolve toward R&B and funk. Two old friends, Ben Pinkert on trumpet and Oskar Perskaas on saxophone, and a new one, keyboardist Helena Martin, joined the roster.
“We took the edge off the guitars, turned down the distortion,” said Coletti.
“It’s a more mature sound,” Pinkert chips in.
Lebreton’s quick to interject: “But we still rock out.”
Now, despite playing together for several years, the band remains in flux. But that’s not a bad thing – Mongolian Monkfish deftly passes from their early hard-charging funk to a more nostalgic, AM radio sound – sometimes in the span of a single song. They’re all working towards finding a sweet spot, the band says.
They’re all working towards finding a sweet spot, the band says. “We’re all pulling back a little,” said Coletti. But the band, now in their mid-20s, says they’ve got their priorities figured out.
“Even if we don’t get a lot done in our practices or when we’re recording,” said Pinkert, “it’s never a waste of time.”
That ideal, playing music for music’s sake, isn’t a new or inaccessible one. And even for those who long ago gave up a life on tour and on stage for steady employment and a mortgage, its effect isn’t lost. - Greenwich Times


Still working on that hot first release.



Mongolian Monkfish regularly gigs in Manhattan, including venues such as The Bitter End, Kenny's Castaways, and Sullivan Hall. The group also performed in front of a full house at Arlene's Grocery in November 2014, where they released their EP.

More than often, lead singer Jamie Khalifa's nostalgic and raspy vocal melodies resemble classic rhythm & blues and soul artists from the 60's. Some originals also echo quintessential guitar driven anthems from bands like Led Zeppelin and Boston. Other prominent styles include funk/rock inspired by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime. Combining these genres with modern themes creates a contemporary, yet timeless sound.

In Summer 2014, the band opened for Boz Scaggs at Stamford's Jazz Up July. They also performed at Greenwich Town Party in May, opening for Santana.

In 2015, the band will release a new series of hit songs for publishing considerations. Among these songs include many relatable themes such as a party/club anthem, love at first sight, and 'that boss at work who everyone hates'. Combined with powerful hooks/lyrics, the team expects these songs to be crowd favorites.

The band is also planning a college tour of the east coast for the fall.

Band Members