By: Shayla Lee
My mood is affected by two things: the weather and the music I listen to. Since I am stuck living in Canada’s harsh winter, I am surrounded by rain, cloudiness, and an overall dreariness that has a huge impact on my mood. To counteract this I listen to music that transports my brain to a different (sunnier) destination. Lately, I’ve been listening to what I call “California rooftop pool during golden hour” music. Most of this playlist is MONOGEM’s songs. Blending jazz with electro-pop, her music is the perfect escape from seasonal depression for me.
A few fun facts about MONOGEM? She studied at Berklee College of Music, was in the top 16 on American Idol, and she had a sold-out Red Bull Sound Select show where LPX also performed. In other words, this girl is killing it. We had the opportunity to interview MONOGEM, whose name is Jen Hirsh, and we chatted about how it feels to be a woman in today’s industry, musical influences, and her stunning new single ‘Get You High.’
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What inspired you to become a musician?
MONOGEM: Music has been my priority ever since I was a little girl. I was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles…and while my parents aren’t musicians, they inspired me with their favorite music. I grew up with my ears full of The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder…all the goodies. After years of voice lessons, studying Jazz in college, living in NYC and now back on my home turf…MONOGEM came about and has been keeping me busy and inspired for the past few years.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
I am inspired by real life…everything that happens around me. A night out, an argument, a color, a melody, a drum groove, a phrase…anything that resonates with me, I try to write it down and roll with it. Some of my musical influences include Little Dragon, Jessie Ware, SZA, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson, James Blake…to name a few.
Your music video for ‘Wild’ is so beautiful! How was the experience of creating this music video?
The experience was totally magical. Having a vision and watching it come to life through film is a process I am falling in love with each time I do it. I actually just finished shooting a new music video for my upcoming single and am still on a high from it!
Congratulations on your new track ‘Get You High!’ We are obsessed! Can you tell us more about this song?
This song is so me. Everything just fell into place while writing this one. It’s amazing how a new song can breathe life into you, and that feeling is what gets me high. I am so lucky to be able to make music for a living, this song is a nice reminder of that.
You have an upcoming show at Peppermint Club in LA on March 1st. What can fans expect from this performance?
Fans can expect me crying over how good “Get You High” sounds with my incredible band. And also some other new material.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the music industry? If so, how did you overcome the adversity and do you have any advice for other women facing a challenge?
There are challenges every day in this industry. Sure, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt like being a man would make things easier. But I will say that right now, I’ve never been more proud to be a woman. I’ve also surrounded myself with a powerful female team (my manager, my band, my publicist, co-writers and producers) and the energy is insane. My advice to other women is to be direct. Be as clear as you can and tell people exactly what you want.
Right now, I’ve never been more proud to be a woman.
What 3 songs are you currently listening to?
What do you have in the works this year? Hopefully we will see you in Vancouver sometime soon!
I would love to come to Vancouver soon. In a few weeks I will be releasing a music video for “Get You High”, making a quick trip to Austin, TX for SXSW, and releasing a lot of new music.
We want to thank Jen for doing this interview with us! To the lucky people that live in sunny LA, tickets to Jen’s show at Peppermint Club on March 1st can be found here. The cover photo for this article was shot by Shervin Lainez. You can follow Jen on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. Her entire California cool collection can be found below 🌴