It was the '90s in Bakersfield, and West Coast gangster rap gripped much of the town. But Charles Dickerson felt bored. So he ignored what was popular, sticking with his beloved electronic music.
He now performs under the name Mono/Poly, and released an EP under Brainfeeder last year. The 25-year-old plans to drop two more in the next two months, one downloadable off his website and another under Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's label, before he kicks off his international tour.
Born and raised in Bakersfield, Dickerson was always drawn to music that defied convention. At 7, he made techno and trance sounds on his dad's keyboard, and in high school gravitated toward The Neptunes and Daft Punk. He also remixed Beethoven's 5th Symphony and sampled Jimi Hendrix's "Johnny B. Goode," choosing only to share his work with other high-schoolers he knew would embrace his sound. "They really believed in my music," he says.
He attended Cal State Fullerton but never finished. Still, his stint at Fullerton nonetheless represented a turning point in his outlook on politics. Dickerson always felt skeptical about politicians, but grew even more wary of them after taking political science classes, realizing that they usually serve themselves, not society. "It made me really mad. And I became really passionate when I talked about it," he says.
He remains opinionated today. "This is the new slavery," he says of lobbying and other issues happening behind the scenes. Dickerson calls war money-influenced. "That's making profit. That has noting to do with the human," he says.
Regarding the presidential race, Dickerson likes Ron Paul, the only republican he'd vote for, and has nothing positive to say about Barack Obama. Having declined to vote for him last time around, he notes that Obama got campaign money from folks associated with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
He also accuses Obama of flip-flopping on his stance regarding war in the song "Explosive Puppetry" on his 2010 album Paramatma. "I just think Obama is a puppet just like Bush," he says. "I don't blame all the problems on him. It's more so the structure we live in that needs to change."
Dickerson also enjoys meditating, which he says builds courage. He says meditation influenced the soothing sounds on Paramatma; in fact, while he was making the album, he had an out of body experience while meditating, which found him running from a killer and eventually escaping. This parallels the album's theme of starting grim and ending utopian.
Unsurprising, Dickerson holds an affinity with the spiritual world. He listens to an audiobook by lecturer David Wilcock called The Source Field Investigations, which predicts 2012's winter solstice will mark a shift in how people think.
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Dickerson believes this has already begun, citing last year's Occupy protests. He felt overjoyed to see the protests unfold worldwide.
"I was waiting for people to come together," he says.
Mono/Poly performs tomorrow night, April 6 at The Echoplex