Greek singer-songwriter Monika has been wooing Greek and international audiences for over a decade with her soulful pop/folk songs, signature melodies and evocative lyrics. Since 2008, when her debut album “Avatar” was released to both commercial success and critical acclaim, she has been at the forefront of the burgeoning indie pop scene of Athens with three more albums, original music scores for film and theatre, and countless live concerts. A self-taught musician, Monika not only writes her own songs, but also plays several instruments, including the piano, guitar, saxophone, accordion, and drums, while during the recent lockdown she has also been honing her editing, mixing, and mastering skills. Far from resting on her laurels, Monika’s music has been evolving and maturing with a chameleon-like creativity and experimental boldness, drawing inspiration from a wide range of genres, from opera and French chanson, to funk and R&B, to traditional Greek music, as well as her personal life including a sojourn in America, motherhood and a near-death experience. We recently caught up with the talented songwriter to ask her about her inspirations, favorite possessions, and her latest concert.
Monika portrait, news24/7.gr, Photo Cr.: Φραντζέσκα Γιαϊτζόγλου-Watkinson
How would you define yourself in three words?
Positive, powerful, very sensitive.
A project/initiative you’ re most proud of?
My last live show at Odeon Herodus Atticus in Athens, in July 2020, when during the pandemic we succeeded in creating a blooming garden in one of the most spectacular ancient theatres in the world. In that garden, music brought us all together again, we felt alive and filled the air with love. It was magical. I’ ve never been more emotional in my life on stage.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everyday life. Art is just a way to express our deepest emotions and thoughts about our memories, what we’ re living at the moment and what we hope for the future. For me, music is basically every single moment of my existing life.
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
I love James Turrell and the way he uses the colour in perception. Jackson Pollock is one of my best, as well. Balance through chaos inspires me a lot.
A timeless design piece you own?
My mom’s Alexander McQueen jeans jacket with spangly colorful designs at the back. Really heavy but truly a masterpiece.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
My thunder T-shirt of Zeus & Dione.
The beauty product you can’ t live without?
My Issey Miyaki perfume. It’ s a signature to me.
Three Instagram accounts you check daily?
Nikos Aliagas, National Geographic and Saturday Night Live.
Your latest discovery?
That riding an electric bike you get more exercise than a normal one because you end up riding all day!
LACMA. I can spend hours, days, or weeks in there.
What is on your bookshelf?
Mostly books about mathematics and tennis and some romance novels.
Who is your favorite hero or heroine in fiction?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I don’t know” because most of the times I really don’ t know. It’ s also a way to make others tell you everything which is why I end up learning all the time. On the other hand, I don’ t like words like never or always.
What is your guilty pleasure?
To listen to old rempetika Greek songs very loud alone in a room, dancing on my own. Or at least trying to!
Your idea of happiness?
To be surrounded by love, to feel harmony inside and out and to be able to share it with everyone.