Refinery 29 named MONOGEM a “trailblaizer of gender fluidity in the entertainment industry”, and we caught up with the ethereal alt-pop artist to discuss this, her latest single ‘Shade’ and MONOGEM’s origins…
Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how MONOGEM came about?
In 2014, I decided to take a detour from my singer-songwriter/Jazz solo project and explore the realm of electronic music. A monogem ring is a supernova remnant which rang true in so many ways for me at the time. The largest monogem ring was found near the Cancer constellation, and being born on 22nd June, this felt like the perfect moniker for me to use to dig into another side of myself. I’m having the time of my life evolving with every release, every interview and show!
We’re loving your latest single ‘Shade’, which we’ve played on the radio show, can you tell us a bit more about this song?
Thank you for the love! I’m so happy this track is out in the world. This song is so me, the lyrics are some of the most honest I’ve written so far. I wrote it as a reminder to stop hiding my truths, even if they aren’t pretty. As an artist and a woman, I’ve felt the need to brush whatever I’m feeling under the rug, pull myself together and put a smile on my face for the big show. When I allow myself to be truly present in every moment, happy or sad, a better version of myself comes out to play. And that person showed up the day I wrote this song.
Listening to your newer music it feels like this has a much more complex layered feel to it, would you agree with that? Has there been a change in your writing/creating process?
Definitely. It’s all part of the evolution of this project and it’s so exciting to be at the centre of it. I studied Jazz at Berklee College of Music… for whatever reason I used to cover up that training and simplify my creative writing process. But now, I’m embracing it more than ever, and it feels really, really good.
Your have been described in such a variety of ways from “a soulful blend of the past and the future” to “a trailblazer of gender fluidity in the entertainment industry”… Do you feel that you fall into any of these descriptions?
I’m always honoured when someone takes the time to write about my music and what they take from it. It makes me feel like the art I’m making is being received in the way that I intended… What a beautiful thing.
LA, where you’re based, has a great music scene with so many artists who are emerging – do you feel part of a strong music community over there?
It’s taken time to develop a strong music community here, about 5-6 years for me, but wow do I feel it more than ever now. Especially after my headline show at School Night last night, I’m definitely home.
Amazing! How was the gig and how would you describe your live shows?
I am over the moon about last night’s gig. The live show features an all-female band – Neara Russell (keys/synthbass) and Valerie Franco (drums) – and they are ridiculously talented. I usually sprinkle in some special guests, like last night my long time friend and collaborator, Adam Tressler (guitar), joined us as well as my friend Hailey Niswanger on saxophone. I am so lucky to work with powerful and skilled musicians. The show is dynamic and sensual. I am very proud of where we are at in this very moment and am excited to keep improving.
And more importantly are you planning on coming to the UK anytime soon??
I’m dying to get to the UK! Hopefully in 2019.
What’s the rest of 2019 got in store for MONOGEM?
More music and more tours!
Finally as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
Lately, I’ve been really into Maiah Manser, Doe Paoro and CLARA-NOVA. All LA-based female powerhouses I am lucky to call friends.
A big thank you to MONOGEM for answering our questions! Fingers crossed for that UK tour date in 2019!
‘Shade’ is out now and you can find more from MONOGEM via Soundcloud.