Jul 15, 2020
Paradise indeed! LA Mexican-American artist Monogem gives us this new single just when we’re in need of a bit of Paraíso! Drawing inspiration from her Latin roots, the song gives off the perfect summery and airy vibe that will have you day dreaming above the pool.
1. Tell us about “Paraíso” and the inspiration behind it.
“Paraíso” was inspired by a memory of a trip I took 2 years ago to the southern coast of Portugal. The song came about very quickly, it was written in just a few hours. It immediately felt like an escape, we started writing to that Bossa Nova guitar which sparked a familiar vocal style for me, as my roots are in Jazz and Brazilian music. While tracking vocals, I remember my collaborators Kyle Patrick & Will Snyder, asking if I had any photos of this idyllic place so that we could sync a photo to the TV screen in the studio for some extra inspiration. We had no idea back in December what was to come with COVID-19 and how crucial a sonic escape would be.
2. Tell us about the concept of the “Paraíso” music video.
The one concept I had in mind for the Paraíso lyric video was that I wanted it to feel calm and serene…like paradise. It was a beautiful experience, dancing around in the pool with my director, Avery Wheless, and some tangerines. We were lucky that we filmed before quarantine started! I’m really happy with the turnout and it’s also nice to be able to read the lyrics in live time.
3. You have some music in Spanish, such as “Soy Lo Que Soy” that was a genuine success, and “Get You High”. What made you lean towards that Spanish side?
Spanish was always a part of my life, especially in my childhood. My mother’s side of the family is Mexican, from Jalisco/Guadalajara area. My mother, however, never learned Spanish as a kid—it was a different time and she was more concerned with fitting in and being American. My grandmother would always speak to me in Spanish as a child, it always felt like a secret weapon to me, being semi-bilingual. When she passed, I lost a lot of my speaking ability because I had nobody to practice with. I cherish that part of my life when I would come home from school and speak with her, expanding my vocabulary. Writing songs in Spanish has allowed me to reconnect with this part of my identity and actually begin to identify as a Mexican-American woman. This feeling of a true connection to myself and my family feels so right, I’m leaning in more than ever now.
4. Since we are talking about Spanish, tell us your biggest Latino references.
My first concert was Linda Rondstadt around the time she toured the album “Canciones de Mi Padre”- her first record of traditional Mexican Mariachi music. It was my abuelita’s favorite record. That traditional Mexican music is so deep in my roots, I didn’t even realize it until I started singing and writing in Spanish! I’m also really into Rosalía, Buscabulla, and Helado Negro right now.
5. Tell us about your career and how you started!
I started MONOGEM in 2014 at a time when I wanted to branch off and start writing electronic music, something that was totally new for me coming from the singer/songwriter world. One of my oldest friends and collaborators, Scott Smith, helped me come up with the concept and produced my first two EPs. We landed on a characteristic, new sound that gained traction, which eventually led to collaborating with more and more producers around the world. A steady stream of releases and touring eventually led to a bit of burnout at the top of 2019, which forced me to reevaluate and rebuild this into something that I felt really close to. Singing in Spanish was always something I longed for but never knew where to start. I reconnected with Kyle and Will from college (Berklee College of Music) and they helped me gain the confidence to try something new, thus the birth of “Soy Lo Que Soy”. Things haven’t been the same since that release and I am beyond excited for what’s to come.
6. Do you have any upcoming releases? What will be your next steps?
I will be releasing another single called “Dame La Fuerza” in the fall, which will lead to my debut full-length album “Jardín”. Unfortunately, all touring plans are on hold, but once it is safe to travel again, I cannot wait to sing these songs all over the world.