Work Hard, Play Nice


Work Hard, Play Nice

Times in lockdown put a group of like-minded artists far apart yet closer than ever. A blessing in disguise: they started off a collective called Play Nice, half a year before its initially planned kick-off. Accelerated by an urge to create and have fun together as ‘Home Buddies.’




August 27, 2020

“We thought it was a good opportunity for everyone to come together and create during these times, versus sitting home bored,” says Play Nice founder Montalis “Monty” Anglade. As a former Director of Operations & Label Manager of a well-renowned indie label, his role to connect people came naturally. Not as a ‘leader’ of the pack (his own name is barely mentioned in the output of Play Nice), but as somewhat of a curator and connector of like-minded folks and friends.

“The beauty of bringing people together into one hub is incredible,” he continues. “It’s different when individual artists release music versus everyone coming together to work on a project collectively. It’s like a Super Friends or Justice League type of thing. Someone even called Play Nice recently “a group of SoundCloud Gods. [laughs]” Producer Insightful is one of them, who is also responsible for all illustrations and designs so far. Insightful: “Working on the first release was like a game of hot potato. Except that every time you’d get the latest version of the ‘potato’—the song—it was incrementally more on fire. Being remote also helps me focus on the music and allows me to try things I most likely don’t with others in the room.”

The outcome of that process is Home Buddies, a diverse collection of nine tracks made in collaboration by the Play Nice crew featuring InsightfulZiloNaji, Bowtye, Tay Iwar, J.Robb, RNDYSVGE , ESTA., Benny Abels, and Biako. Plus eleven equally diverse remixes. Contemporary R&B is a common thread through the tracks, with thumping basses, rattling drums and wavy riffs subtly leading the music in different directions here and there. A few of the remixes even flirt with liquid drum-and-bass and house music, even more so showcasing Play Nice's sense of spontaneity and fun.

Monty: “We released a single each week for nine weeks straight, partly inspired by Kanye’s G.O.O.D Friday. We also shared the acapellas, so each track could be remixed. That resulted in a ton of remixes by people having fun with the music. That’s a very important element to Play Nice: having fun.” That's something that goes beyond music: the crew previously hosted educational streams on music business, Insightful made portraits of people on Instagram Live, there was a live beat session by Naji, and with live streams of the gang just playing games together.

Illustration by Insightful

"A lot of my mindset is built on artist ownership. I help everyone run their business independently, and grow together from there."

— Monty

It’s striking that throughout the entire conversation, Monty solely uses the term “artists” to describe all producers, singers, musicians, and visual artists involved with Play Nice. Giving away a sense of respect, equality, and togetherness within their community—even while separated by long distances and lockdowns.“That was the idea all along,” explains Monty, ”to showcase everyone’s name individually rather than just stating Play Nice. I want to highlight every single person individually so that listeners can do their research and discover individual catalogs. Doesn’t matter if it’s someone who only laid a bassline or someone who produced the entire track. Every artist is important. "Also on a business level: a lot of my mindset is built on artist ownership. I help everyone run their business independently, and grow together from there."

Insightful feels the same way, and sees a deeper meaning behind the witty Play Nice ethos: “Producers (and writers) are notoriously overlooked, undervalued, and underpaid for the work they do. The more I am involved in this industry, the more apparent these facts are. It’s how it’s been for a long time and still is to this day. To me, Play Nice is a statement that my team and I will not be subject to those longstanding practices in this industry. We expect all parties to play nice.”


Next to sampling music themselves, several Play Nice tracks are made **available through Tracklib**to be sampled by other producers. Connecting the dots between creating with the old and the new. Monty: “There was a time—especially in the SoundCloud era—when I was that guy telling everyone ‘do NOT sample songs. There’s no way to clear it.’ We didn’t know who to get in touch with; didn’t know how to clear it. But with Tracklib, it’s all possible now. I don’t have to tell producers ‘don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that’ anymore. Tracklib allows producers to create without any worries or stress. To truly have fun making the music, with at the same time a simplified business aspect to it.

For Insightful it’s also a big step forward: “The fact that Tracklib made using samples so incredibly easy and straight-forward is such a positive step in the music industry. The intention feels pure and needed,” says Insightful. “Secondly, the access to sample legendary music legitimately without having to worry about it being taken down or claimed is an insane concept. This is morally a better approach than ripping something from YouTube or another platform. This is truly artists helping artists.”

As far as the future of Play Nice is concerned, Monty and his home buddies are planning to continue as organically and playful as it all started off for them. Experimenting, playing and learning along the way. Monty: "It’s definitely going to be... [pauses] yeah, it keeps coming back to this: having fun.”

Browse all tracks from Play Nice artists

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