Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 16th 2014 Contents JOSHUA SURTEES
The biggest surprise of the inter-
view comes after we ve wrapped
it up. Half way through asking
Richard Jones for his contact number I stop
myself and mutter, "Oh. I guess you don t
have a cellphone, being a monk..."
But Jones, aka the techno monk, shocks
me. "I got my first smartphone in December,"
he beams, reaching into the pocket of his
monk s habit and fishing out a Samsung.
"Oh cool, do you have any apps on there?"
I say, "Anything religious...?"
"Yeah I ve got the Bible app on here and
the Daily Missal..."
Perhaps for a man who is a committed
Benedictine Monk and also records techno
music, that shouldn t be surprising.
Jones is a full-time monk but he s not
cloistered. Five years ago he joined the Bene-
dictine Order, the idea had struck him at
the age of 25 when he had become engaged
to a young woman and was sent by his
church to a retreat on a quest to discover
whether the two were really compatible life
They were, but Jones suddenly experienced
a conversion. In his words "believing that
God is really real."
At his local church in Guayguayare in
south east Trinidad he began making
enquiries about how he could best serve
How do you become a monk?
"Well, you apply!" Jones laughs. For him
it wasn t a Damascene conversion, he had
been born and baptised into the Catholic
faith, it was more of a life progression.
Are there exams?
"You have a formation period of two years
where you live an old-fashioned lifestyle
and you don t go anywhere outside the
monastery, you learn about the Desert
Fathers." Third century Christian hermits
who lived in the desert in Egypt.
The life of a monk at Mount St Benedict
is much as one might expect from reading
the Umberto Eco novel The Name of the
Up at 5.30 am, morning prayers at 6 am,
a simple breakfast, simple lodgings (a room
with a bed, desk, wardrobe and sink, but
blessed with a beautiful view of the moun-
Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience
are strictly observed but luckily for him, no
vows of silence. When asked if he got enough
"in" before his vow of chastity, he confirms
that the memories will carry him a long way.
If he gets any groupies as a result of his new
musical career, he says they can come by
the monastery to see him, but just to pray.
Duties include working in the monastery
gift shop or the yogurt factory.
The habit is optional. After a papal con-
ference in Rome in the 1960s, known as the
Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, the
rules for monks were relaxed somewhat.
Monks can now leave the cloisters, for exam-
ple, and interact with their local community.
"Vatican II changed the whole face of the
church," Jones says.
Jones was talking to the T&T Guardian
in a small studio above a shop on Frederick
Street owned by music producers Lyndon
Andrews and Anthony Brotherson who run
the recording company 5Z1.
The two producers normally record gospel,
soca and dancehall and are excited to be
working with a man who they believe is the
first monk in the world to be performing in
dance music. When one thinks of monks
and music one thinks of the haunting
Medieval melodies of Gregorian chant. In
the early 90s German dance duo Enigma
put chanting over a drumbeat and titled it
Sadness (Part I) achieving a worldwide No
But here were have a monk poised to
record a whole album.
His musical education began at the
"My superior, Abbot John Pereira asked
me if I was interested in learning to play an
instrument, because our prayer involved a
lot of singing so it s always good to have
musicians. I started off playing piano at a
school and I started writing with a piece of
music writing software called Finale."
His music teacher realised he had talent
after he recorded a classical record and intro-
duced him to Andrews.
"I like techno!" Jones says, and again his
infectious laugh rings out. "I liked clubs
before," he clarifies. "The Lair in Barataria.
Liquid in Barataria. A club upstairs at Gulf
City Mall in San Fernando."
• Continues on Page A34
Monk goes techno
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Game makers at this year s Elec-
tronic Entertainment Expo went for
That s not just a metaphor about
the competitive spirit of the video
game industry at its annual trade
show this past week. There were also
actual depictions of throats being
ripped out---as well as spleens, spines,
hearts and testicles---in some of the
goriest scenes ever shown off at E3.
Developers of such titles as Blood-
borne, Let It Die, Mortal Kombat X,
Dead Island 2 and Dying Light weren t
shy about harnessing the high-pow-
ered graphical capabilities of the lat-
est generation of consoles to portray
more realistic decapitations, dismem-
berments and other grisliness.
Why the apparent boost in high-
"I think they look for the latest
gaming experience that takes them to
another level from where they ve been
before, and a lot of our publishing
partners are pursuing the new, most
impactful experience for gamers," said
Shawn Layden, CEO of Sony Com-
puter Entertainment America, which
launched the PlayStation 4. (AP)
E3 unleashes next generation of gruesomeness
Benedictine monk, Richard Jones, is recording a techno album in the 5Z1 Productions studio on Frederick Street, Downtown Port-of-Spain. The
techno monk performs live at Shakers on the Avenue on June 15. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
...send positive vibes through music
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