[EXCLUSIVE] Interview: Monica
Posted on March 24, 2010 by Sajae
The Grammy-Award winning songstress spoke to iLuvLola.net about her album, Still Standing, which dropped yesterday, motherhood & changing with the wave of the music industry.
Peep the audio clip below & read on for the rest of the interview!
Monica speaks about the new crop of female artists, & which ones she sees herself in.
Sajae for iLuvLola.net: So I listened to the album and I loved it, and love that it’s not jumping on the same pop/dance bandwagon that’s taking over radio right now.
Monica: Oh thank you!
ILL: As someone who’s been in the game as long as you have do you feel the need to re-invent yourself?
Monica: At times I’ve thought I need to change with whatever is going on around me, with what I know would please everybody and the radio. The best thing I could do is continue to be me, so this album is more like my first in the fact that I didn’t think about making anything else but the music. I didn’t think about anything other than the feeling of the music and making sure I sang the song. There was definitely a point in time where I thought about that but I’ve learned that it’s definitely not the way to go.
ILL: You said in another interview that this album was you “going back to where you started” musically, could you tell me a bit more about what you meant by that.
Monica: I think it’s very necessary for me to stay true to who I am. It helps me in a lot of ways, more than music. Personally, as I grow as a person. I find myself being more vocal about the things that important to me as a person. With this particular album I looked at it as a chance to go back into that feeling that I had in the 90′s, which is what I consider soul R&B, where everything is sang with soul no matter what it was. I started off singing Gospel music, so I didn’t know another way to sing other than with my heart and soul, and I just had to remind my self to do that.
ILL: So far, my favourite song is the single, Everything To Me, but what’s your favourite song on this album & why?
Monica: Hmmm. My favourite song when it comes to the message is Still Standing and I would have to say one of my favourite songs to listen to, is a tie between Everything To Me and a song titled Mirror. It has the message and the movement, musically that I love. There’s nothing better than being able to look in the mirror and be able to be happy with who you see, and knowing that you are you, you don’t have to be anybody else. By design we’re all different. That’s something that I think we as women struggle with quite a bit.
ILL: What do you want people to learn about you with this album that they didn’t know before?
Monica: You know I can’t say that theres a lot left once you do reality TV and 15 years [in the industry]. I think they see my growth. I think they see the difference in who I was vs. who I am now. They recognize that I’m more like them than they would have realized before the television show and this album. I think that’s the one common denominator between me and the people that have supported me and my music, is that we have all these similarities that you would never have known about in the 90′s because we didn’t share as much back then.
ILL: What made you want to be able to show people the process behind creating your album, and bits of your personal life, on your show “Still Standing?”
Monica: Well Keyshia Cole and I have been really great friends now for over 5 years and when she was taping her show “The Way It Is” I would always be there just as moral support. I know how hard it is being in the music business period, so to also be in a television show and everybody looking at you and voicing their opinions about you; I was just always around to just be supportive. I always had the kids around, my youngest son is her godson. So as we were spending time, the producer of the show asked me what did I think about doing a show. My initial answer was absolutely not and then I decided that there had to be a way for me to test the waters first. So we came up with this idea to do an hour-long special for Peachtree TV and we titled it The Single. It basically focused on my life with the kids and then me trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go for the album and things of that nature and I just found it to be a great experience. It wasn’t the way I thought it would be. I thought it would a lot of “Ok, we gotta make some drama here and let’s create some more there,” but it wasn’t like that at all. It was about me and what was taking place in my life. Once I realized that was it, I signed on for the entire season.
ILL: What did we maybe not see on camera that was still important in how the album came together?
Monica: A lot of the sessions weren’t on camera. YOU can only show so much of that and a lot of the different things that I was overcoming in my life. I was being s supportive daughter, my father was battling prostate cancer. My sons..potty training one, flipping diapers on the other, enrolling one in school, recording at night, maintaing the relationships with B. Cox and Missy and all the people that I worked with; so you’re pretty much just balancing on a consistent basis.
ILL: What affect has motherhood taken on your music?
Monica: It makes you more aware of the fact that children listen so closely in trying to figure themselves out they’re kind of looking to us. I’m still very real, I’m still very upfront about things that I want to talk about. But I do it in a way that’s a little different than I probably would have had I not had children. Sometimes I have to catch myself in real life. There’s always a better way to get your point across than with those particular words. SO I find myself not censoring the music but being aware of the music. If there’s a way for me to get my point across and not use a four letter word, then I will. I’ve never been a real provocative dresser, it’s not what I do. I’m not against anybody else doing it, but there’s just been a couple of different standards that I’ve upheld throughout the process and my children make it easier for me to understand why I should continue. Now, I’m far from perfect, there are plenty of flaws you could find within me, but as I grow and I progress I’m just open about it. I tell my kids about it. I tell them about my mistakes with no shame and I tell them a lot of the different ways to avoid some of the same pitfalls.
ILL: What young female singers do you see yourself in, if any?
Monica: It’s hard to say because there’s different things that I see, and I say this with the utmost respect. For instance, I think I see the fearlessness that i had in the 90s in Rihanna. She’s not afraid to try different things. She doesn’t care if you don’t like what’s taking place in her life or who she’s dating. That was just always the way that I felt. And I think it’s important to be that way, you shouldn’t allow the music industry to run and control your life. What will your life be when you’re no longer apart of the music industry? So I really respect and love that about her. I see that she really does it her way. Sometimes when you do it your way it makes it a little harder but so much better. You grow in a totally different way. And I think the reason Keyshia and I are so close is because I’ve seen how many times she’s been mistreated, abused, or put in uncomfortable positions, but her ultimate goal was to make it better for everybody. Her ultimate goal is to show people that you can come from nothing and be whatever your want to be, and that’s on common ground for us. It makes our friendship very strong, and that was the thing that made me gravitate towards her. When I went to the Kanye West’s concert and somebody told me that she was backstage I was like Ok, i’d love to meet her I like her song, and they said she actually wants to meet you too. So when we met, it wasn’t like we were just meeting it was like we had always known each other. So you see different things in different people.
ILL: Who are you listening to right now?
Monica: You know, in my Ipod there’s so many different types of music it’s unreal. My son’s ipod somehow downloaded onto mine and it was playing The Chipmunks Squeakquel soundtrack the other day and I was like this is definitely not mine! [Laughs] But i’m listening to Marvin Sapp’s new record. I listen to J. Moss as a standard pretty much every day. I think that those things that you see and hear, you start to really internalize it. I still love rap music. I love Jazmine Sullivan. I listen to Kim Burrell, who’s a gospel artist. So there’s a lot of things that I like, I love throwback music. My first cassette tape that was ever purchased for me was Bebe and Cece Winans. And my brother and I are really close so i always thought it was cool the way they were. So I downloaded their catalogue. I just try to keep what I hear as positive as possible.
ILL: Do you think you have an advantage having been in the industry so long and do you think today’s lack of artist development helps you have that edge?
Monica: The thing is I didn’t do that. Dallas [Austin] gave me this opportunity and he believed in the raw talent and ability to connect wth the people and the young girls who were just like me. And I’m so thankful that he did it that way because I never had to fake or pretend. Everything was just me. [This industry] is meant for some people, and it’s not meant for others; and you find out very quickly if you’re cut out for this or not! [Laughs] I think there’s an advantage to me performing for so long because I know how to read the crowd. It’s just my instinct to connect directly to them. I don’t do the same song list every night, I can feel what it is they want. I don’t know if that’s something that can be taught or if that’s God-given. I’m thinking its God-given because when I come on stage I always start off with my very first song, and that’s me paying respect to how it all began for me. Then it pretty much just goes off of how I feel from there. So I think there are advtanages when you learn how to read them, stop singing for minute and talk to them, maybe do more than talking. You can only figure that out through experience. The disadvantage is people always compare my new work to my old work. That’s so hard because if you want me to duplicate The Boy Is Mine…I was 16 years old without a care in the world. Now I’m 29 approaching 30 in October with 2 small children and a whole family depending on me to do exactly what I set out to do. So it’s kind of hard to make people understand the difference between then and now.
ILL: What songs do you love performing that you know gets an instant reaction from a crowd?
Monica: It’s different in different areas for songs that people gravitate towards. One that usually works out all across the board is Why I Love You So Much. That’s one of the ones that I really enjoy singing; I love doing ballads period. I would have to say out of the ladies they tend to gravitate to So Gone
ILL: Any last words?
Monica: My main thing is, I always say thank you because I could not have been in the music industry this long without the people that have loved and supported me. When I’m out I have a different connection with the people. Even when I performed last night in Anaheim, you go back through your catalog and think about how far I’ve come as a person. I just want to say thank you to all the people that supported and have been there for me, and when they pick up up the album they’ll get a chance to hear what you heard.
ILL: I can’t wait until everyone can hear it. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Monica: No problem at all. Thank you!
Monica’s 6th studio album Still Standing was released in stores yesterday, March 23rd.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.