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Work Hard, Play Nice
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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.’

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“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.”

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The outcome of that process is Home Buddies, a diverse collection of nine tracks made in collaboration by the Play Nice crew featuring Insightful, Zilo, Naji, 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
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
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