Based in the small, dusty junction town of Creedmoor, Texas (population 202) the creative duo Known as Alien Knife Fight craft their sound at all hours in their big, old 1930's era house/home studio, situated on 3.6 acres that they call Big Bottom Farm.
Bassist/vocalist Monique Ortiz has been performing in duos for over 25 years.
Her first notable duo project, Bourbon Princess (1997), lead to over a decade of collaboration and with members of the band Morphine, drummer Jerome Deupree and saxophonist Dana Colley, and lead to the formation of A.K.A.C.O.D.. Over the past two decades Monique has made a name for herself as an innovative and unconventional fretless and slide bassist, as well as a powerful and versatile vocalist, landing her a nominee spot in the Boston Music Awards.
In 2010, after being embedded in Boston’s indie rock scene for 14 years, Monique moved to Austin, and met multi-instrumentalist /producer/engineer Michael Howard. Michael was playing bass in a local stoner rock band, Bay Of Pigs, at that time. There was instant chemistry between the two, and it wasn’t long before Monique moved into Mike’s large fixer-upper and they began jamming and recording together without agenda or expectation, with Mike on drums instead of bass. Friends encouraged them to take their duo out into the Austin music scene and by 2011 they were performing under the name Alien Knife Fight, which was a name very much chosen at random due to a common disdain for coming up with band names. Little did they realize the name would make such an impression audibly and visually.
The greatest challenge to Alien Knife Fight may also be their greatest strength: In a time where duos have become commonplace in rock-n-roll, A.K.F. blaze their own trail, avoiding the usual lo-fi garage or electronica approach, which seem to be the default sound for so many two-piece acts.
In late 2016 Monique and Mike began working with producer, ex-Melvins bassist Mark Deutrom on their EP “Some Girls”.
Punk blues one-man-band Scott H Biram generously invited Alien Knife Fight on a west coast tour with him, and country & rockabilly legend Jesse Dayton in March of 2017. The eclectic duo received a positive response despite being in the company of two acts whose sound theirs didn't quite fit with.
Currently Mike and Monique are working on a full-length Alien Knife Fight record, and new videos. They are unsigned and independent in the most literal sense of the word: They do all their own writing, recording, producing (they also produce other artists), as well as all their own video production. Aside from music, both Monique and Mike are professional visual artists, with glassblowing being their main medium. Recently they began working with guitarist Ted Calaveras. They will continue to perform as a duo AND a trio. It is our hope that they will be able to tour extensively in the near future. Until then, you’ll have to come to Texas to see them.
A Fine Art graduate, born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1972, Monique Ortiz has made a name for herself over the past 25 years as an innovative bassist, vocalist, and songwriter / composer.
As a child Monique took to visual arts and music at an early age, picking up her first guitar at age 6, drums by age 8, clarinet by 12, and bass by 14. Throughout high school and while attending Pennsylvania College Of Art & Design, she played bass in a variety of local bands of different genres, including punk, post punk, new wave, hardcore, blues, pop, and classic rock, while maintaining constant output of paintings and illustrations in the local art scene. At that time Monique was the only bassist in her area who played mainly fretless bass and was the youngest to take that leap. It was her love of the U.K.’s “New Romantic” and post punk scenes that proved to be the catalyst for making the bass her main instrument. Bands such as Japan, Talk Talk, Duran Duran, Visage, The Fixx, Roxy Music and Spandau Ballet proved that you blend elements of punk, funk, glam and disco, resulting in music that was moodier, sexier and every bit as danceable. For Monique, the thing that caught her ear the most in this sound were the basslines:
“The first bass my parents bought me was a Squire Bullet bass, black with white pick guard. They bought me a small practice amp to go with it. I believe it was a Peavy Basic 60. I would sit in my bedroom and play along to every record I owned by Duran Duran, Roxy Music, and Japan. The very first song I taught myself was “New Religion” by Duran Duran. I quickly became obsessed with Japan and the bass playing of Mick Karn, grew bored with the fretted bass and moved on to the fretless, studying everything Mick played on. By the time I graduated college I was deep into prog rock, experimental music, and was hungry to do things in a less conventional manner. I was trying to make a go of it in local bands but grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of good musicians in the area and the lack of guitarists who didn’t always have some kind of drama or chaos following them into the project. My brother had been murdered a few years prior, and local authorities showed absolutely no interest in solving the case. This, along with family dysfunction, and dead end music projects made me deeply depressed and hungry to get the hell out of Lancaster. It was around this time that I discovered the music of Morphine.”
It was early 1996, that Monique had been up late one night, watching a film called “Spanking The Monkey”: “I liked the film. It’s quite twisted, but what caught my attention even more was the music in the film. It was infectious. I immediately needed to know who it was. It was Morphine. At that time I was doing gigs off an on, helping out my friend Shannon McNally, who had just landed a deal with Capitol Records. After I had tracked down the one record store in our town that sold Morphine’s music, I bought everything they had by them and devoured it. It was such a shot in the arm for me because I had begun performing live, without a guitarist, and at that time people weren’t very receptive to it. There was this common thinking that in order to have a band you MUST have a guitarist. I rebelled against that idea with all my might, and Morphine only validated my reaction. I thought ‘these guys are doing what I want to do! I’ve got to find a way to meet them and learn from them’. A few days later, Shannon called me to tell me that she head “that band Morphine are playing the Troc in Philly on May 6th! You should get tickets! So I did.”
Monique introduced herself to Morphine front man Mark Sandman after that Philly show, and he encouraged her to visit Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they’d be performing at The World’s Fair in Central Square, a large outdoor, neighborhood concert. Monique bought a train ticket and headed north. By September of 1996 she sold most of her belongings, packed her bass gear in her 1972 Beetle and drove to Cambridge.
In her last days in Lancaster and early days in Boston Monique fearlessly played open mics and anywhere she could with nothing but her Kubicki fretless bass, singing dark, drony music, standing out in a sea of traditional singer songwriters with acoustic guitars, who play it safe with folk songs and happy-go-lucky-predictability.
By 1997 she formed Bourbon Princess, a duo with drummer Dave Millar, which months later would become a trio with the addition of cellist Jonah Sacks. They played extensively in the Boston area and released “Stopline” in 2000. They parted ways soon after, due to creative differences. Monique continued to perform under the name Bourbon Princess, and eventually landed a spot playing bass for Treat Her Right co-founder David Champagne, in the short-lived project, Lucky Bastard . This lead to her introduction to Morphine members, drummer Jerome Deupree and saxophonist Dana Colley. They already vaguely knew Monique from seeing her at all of Mark Sandman’s packed “secret shows” around town, and within months Monique found herself at Hi-N-Dry, Sandman’s loft/home studio where many of the most notable Morphine recordings were crafted. With Dana as producer, Jerome Deupree on drums, and Monique’s close friend Jim Moran on guitar, Bourbon Princess released their 2nd record, “Black Feather Wings’, which in spite of it’s lo-fi quality and questionable mix and mastering, remains the top selling Bourbon Princess release.
Following “Black Feather Wings” Monique, Jerome, Jim, and Either/Orchestra saxophonist Russ Gershon teamed up with producer / engineer Paul Q. Kolderie (radiohead, Hole, Warren Zevon, Pixies) to record “Dark Of Days’, a sprawling, high-production soundscape that went very much unnoticed, with the exception of landing Monique a nominee spot for “Best Female Vocalist” in the Boston Music Awards that year.
In 2007 Monique began collaborating closely with Dana Colley and drummer Larry Dersch, writing and recording from the ground up in A.K.A.C.O.D., the most recognized project out of everything she had done up to that point. The project seemed cursed from the beginning, with a band name that was awkward to say and difficult to type, with no management or representation of any kind. These were pre-internet days. By the time they released “Happiness” it was 2008, the market was crashing, and music on the internet started to explode, with labels going out of business and records stores beginning to close their doors. No one was interested in signing an act such as A.K.A.C.O.D.. They made attempts at touring, but mainly played to empty rooms. Unfortunately, despite all the attention and praise Monique still receives, she is still playing mostly empty rooms.
After putting so much effort into the project, only to be left in staggering debt, and completely demoralized from the lack of following, Monique, Dana, and Larry parted ways. Monique moved to Austin in 2010 not for the music scene (which has proven to be the wrong scene for her anyway), but for cheaper living and a change of scenery.
Shortly after arriving in Austin Monique met musician Michael Howard at work, a glassblowing business. At that time Mike was playing bass in a local stoner rock band. There was instant chemistry between the two, and it wasn’t long before Monique moved into Mike’s large fixer-upper and they began jamming and recording together without agenda or expectation. Friends encouraged them to take they duo out into the Austin music scene and by 2011 they were performing under the name Alien Knife Fight, which was a name very much chosen at random due to a common disdain for coming up with band names. Little did they realize the name would make such an impression audibly and visually.
Mike and Monique converted the first floor of their home into a recording studio and began recording literally everything they played. In 2013 they released their debut EP, which included Brad Houser (Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Critters Buggin) on baritone sax and 8-string bass, and John Amymong on Moog. Between this release and their most recent, “Some Girls” , Monique spent a lot of time developing her sound and gradually moving away from the jazzier, “low rock” elements she had been deeply embedded in for the past 14 years, and was hungry to go heavier and get back to her punk roots.
“Be careful what you wish for” became the theme as Monique started receiving more and more attention for playing the 2-string slide bass, the instrument made famous by Morphine. When tragedy struck back in 1999, with Mark Sandman collapsing on stage in Italy from a massive heart attack, Monique made up her mind that she was going to do new things with the 2-string slide bass, and blaze her own trail rather than imitate Mark’s sound. Instead of forming one of the dozens of Morphine tribute bands that exist today, she wanted to show the world that this instrument was capable of so much more than just swampy, blues rock, or what Mark called “Low Rock”. Instead she shifted her focus back to the punk and hard rock music she loved so much, as well as the heavy sounds that came out of Palm Desert with acts such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Eleven, Yawning Man, and Masters Of Reality, trading in her bullet mic and Memory Man stomp box for loads of distortion and bigger, louder amps. Monique also grew bored with the subdued, jazz, and blues influenced vocals in Bourbon Princess that she became known for, and worked on expanding her range, practicing to early classic rock and heavy metal greats such as Robert Plant and Rob Halford (she was a soprano in high school choir after all).
In late 2016 Monique and Mike began working with producer, ex-Melvins bassist Mark Deutrom on their EP “Some Girls”. You may be wondering why they hadn’t released a full-length record by now. The answer is simple: lack of support and funding, the very problem that has plagued all of Monique’s projects from the beginning. The choice to work with Mark D proved to be a mistake that they’d have to cut their losses on. “Some Girls” did manage to get more publicity than any of Monique’s projects to date, but is riddled with mix problems that wouldn’t have happened had they continued to record on their own.
Punk blues one-man-band Scott H Biram generously invited Alien Knife Fight on tour with him on the west coast, along with country & rockabilly legend Jesse Dayton in March of 2017. The duo received a positive response in spite of being in the company of two acts that they didn’t feel they fit well with.
Currently Mike and Monique are expanding their home studio, as well as their glassbowing business (also at home on their 3.6 acre “Big Bottom Farm), while continuing their music and visual art. They are working on a full-length Alien Knife Fight record, fully independent. No labels. No money. No management. They are also working with guitarist Ted Calaveras on some of the new material. This year Monique was featured in Bass Player Magazine, Guitar World, Paste, and a few others. It is our hope that eventually they will be able to tour extensively in the future. Until then, you’ll have to come to Texas to see them.