Charles Dickerson couldn't be more different than the music he creates.
While the 33-year-old is quiet, reserved and methodic, his music is bombastic, energetic and dares listeners to join him on a journey to find the edges of the universe. The music maverick has worked with musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Ne-Yo and Flying Lotus. More recently, he teamed up with EastsideLED, an L.A.-based media company, to be its first YouTube Livestream performance.
The producer has spent the past two decades forging his own path in the music universe like EDM's Captain Kirk. He explores new sounds with no two songs sounding alike and adventuring with artists well-known and underground to make tracks seem shapeless.
“I'm in a weird situation," Dickerson said. “I feel like I'm not well known. But when it comes to the music world, I feel like people kind of know me. I've been thinking differently about that. Some of the most important people to meet are the people that I like what they make, but I always am, like, where's the other people that aren't musicians? I used to get bummed because nobody cared, but a lot of the time the people that do care are people that I admire. I feel respected in a way but I don't feel like a big star."
Dickerson credits his father, who he saw perform with the band Black Diamond, for sparking his interest in music. His curiosity piqued when he pressed the button on his dad's keyboard that created a high-energy faux-rave sound and he asked, "Why don't they use this sound?" At 13, he started making music and by 24 he moved to L.A. to pursue his career. Best known by his stage name Mono/Poly, he came up in the Low End Theory scene, a now-defunct underground experimental hip-hop club.
"My early stuff was spiritual in a way," he said. "It was a process like an awakening for me. I saw some synchronicity. I want deeper meaning in things sometimes but I go with what feels right."
Over the past few weeks, Dickerson has turned to Instagram to release mini-concerts for his fans. He introduced a visual component that takes viewers on a trip that can only be comparable to surfing on the event horizon of a black hole.
With a vision for a grander audiovisual concert beyond his means, Dickerson had a stroke of luck when EastsideLED approached him to play a livestream show.
"They came at the right time," Dickerson said. "They said they really wanted my visuals for it. I sent them some stuff and it was perfect. It was literally perfect."
Airing Monday, the livestream show featured a starscape kaleidoscope engulfing Dickerson as he played for almost an hour. (The performance can be viewed on EastsideLED's YouTube page.)
The future is ever-expanding for the burgeoning artist, who is currently working on a full audiovisual album and a lyrical album.
Dickerson isn't afraid to get experimental with his music. Mono/Poly's most recent album, "Messages from the Cosmic Sea," is an eight-track album clocking in at exactly four hours with each song being 30 minutes. Experimentation isn't the exception, it's the rule.
"A lot of my process is sound design first," Dickerson said. "For me that's the thing that gets me into the element. Having the ability to control or create sounds that I want that fit how I want. It pushes me to be more passionate about the arrangement of it. I get to align it how I want it."
Much of his work he gets from invitation so when he does decide to create his own projects, Dickerson turns to Patreon for fan funding.
"The process of having my own sound is like having something unique to me," said Dickerson, noting that it allows him to create new musical worlds. "It drives me to create something different. The artists I like are creatives; they do something different than other people."