With a recent collab with American R&B songwriter/producer Tank and his first full-length album coming in 2021, Treh LaMonte wants to put Montreal R&B on the map.
The Montreal R&B scene is hurting. While the city continues to be a haven for indie rockers, the meteoric rise of Toronto-based R&B acts like Drake, The Weeknd and Tory Lanez has only emphasized Montreal’s desperate need for their own international R&B superstar. Enter Treh LaMonte. With his most recent collaboration with American R&B producer Tank—whose resume includes production and songwriting credits for Aaliyah, Beyoncé, and Omarion—LaMonte’s “Patience” is rapidly proving why he’s the top contender for putting Montreal R&B back on the map. An alum who is much beloved by the team at RAC, Treh sat down with us following the release of “Patience” to talk about his early years, inspiration, creative process, and side-projects.
Born and raised in Montreal’s South-West borough of Ville LaSalle, Treh LaMonte’s innate love of music first emerged as an early love of hip hop dance. “I’ve had a relationship with music ever since I was born”, he tells us. “My introduction came through a variety of music ranging from R&B to gospel to soca to reggae and soul. I gravitated mostly to hip hop and started expressing my creativity through dance. At that time, the goal was to become a big-time choreographer for some of the biggest hip hop acts and films”. This love of dance ultimately paved the way for Treh’s first experimentation with hip hop production. After performing at several talent shows and competitions, he started looking for ways to customize the music he was performing to. “The first thing I used was Audacity. I had a dollar store microphone that I would wrap a napkin around to act as a pop-filter! [Laughs] Humble beginnings! That chapter was short-lived, but it sparked a fire in me and introduced me to what I would later find out is sound engineering. That's when I was introduced to sound production and fully immersed myself in it, which grew my understanding of the field of music and entertainment”.
Treh’s early work took inspiration from a host of contemporary artists like Tank, Jagged Edge, and Musiq Soulchild. “As I continued to grow as an artist, I found my voice as a crooner and singer, which resonated with the local supporters I carried over from my past endeavours and allowed me to rapidly gain new ones, given the lack of male R&B acts in Montreal. In later years, as my sound started to develop and the sonics of R&B began to shift, I was introduced to artists like Ty Dolla $ign, PartyNextDoor, and Bryson Tiller. I've been inspired by them because their music resonates with what I identify with and influences the music I make on different levels”, he says. “It could provoke me to try different things with my voice, content, production and presentation”.
Although he’s not ready to give up the title of his new album, set for release next year, Treh has promised a string of new singles leading up to its release and was willing to give us a glimpse of his creative process in 2020. “Because of the way I record my music, I’ve fallen a bit more in love with the recording process”, he tells us. “Most times, I'm not writing— I just throw on the beat that I vibe to the most and let a stream of ideas hit my head and go straight into the mic. It could be a range of melodies or a few words that connect here and there. Then I start to puzzle everything together in real-time to find the direction the song should go. The production usually sparks the emotion I want to go for”, he continues. “As an engineer, I enjoy the sound design process because I get to create the world the song is going to live in based on how I equalize and level my mix and master. You almost feel like a mad scientist at times”.
Treh’s creativity doesn’t begin and end with his own music. In 2011, he helped found The Leaders Movement, a non-profit entertainment production house that connects creatives from all corners of the music industry with kids and young adults interested in music but aren’t necessarily looking to become rappers and singers. “There's a whole world to discover when you dive into things like stage design, tour management and video direction”, he says. “These can all be started as small businesses that turn into bigger companies that get booked for jobs year-round. Through this non-profit, I'll also be working with other creatives to bring content to its non-music related platforms, such as discussion panels, vlogs, podcasts, and anything else we feel could serve as a form of entertainment and information.
With his recent collaboration with Tank earning his music some much-deserved exposure, Treh is one step closer to making his ambitions a reality. “My goal is to become an international R&B artist turned mogul who got his start in Montreal, Canada”, he tells us. “The city has yet to have anyone really ‘make it’ the way Toronto artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Tory Lanez, and Justin Bieber have. Once that's achieved, I plan on figuring out a way to collectively build an infrastructure in Montreal where we can broadcast ourselves to an international fanbase through galas and events, and the support from our local media stations”.
On his collaboration with one of his early influences, Treh is clearly gracious. “He's been one of my biggest influences and one of the reasons I got into R&B music, so it’s beyond fulfilling for this to come full-circle and get Tank to feature on one of my original songs. It’s funny, the original version of "Patience" had the least amount of streams when it released in 2019 on my debut EP, Fall For A Real One (Frequency 1), and it still only has 1500 streams almost two years later. The remix is currently at 65,000 streams after being out for only two months. So, I'm very grateful for the opportunity Tank gave me for more eyes and ears to land on my work”.
There is no need to temper expectations for Treh LaMonte’s career in 2021. With “Patience” already in his back pocket and his first full-length on the way, Treh’s assessment for the new year seems on point. “Expect bigger and better things from me as I navigate this ship the best way I know how”, he tells us in closing. “If you enjoy what you've been hearing from me, I can assure you it gets better! I appreciate everyone who's supporting me and send a big ‘thank you’ to RAC for this opportunity— I'm a proud alumnus!”