Jam #1 – Monika

As promised, this is the first post in a series that will follow the Jams of radio show’s profile on This Is My Jam. It’s not something really predictable, since Monika was never played in the show before. However, there are plenty of Greek artists that sing in English and she’s already been doing it for a few years, so, let’s say, she “qualifies”. If a couple of years ago somebody told me that she sings a song like ‘Secret In The Dark‘ I’d find it really hard to believe it, and that’s not for the worse.

Monika, now in her late 20’s, became really popuar in Greece in 2008 when she released her first album, ‘Avatar‘. A math student who did her first steps in music when a teenager, participating in her brother’s band and a few years later launched her solo career. ‘Avatar‘ became a huge success and the following years she played nearly in every corner of this small country. Songs like ‘Over The Hill‘ and ‘Babe‘ could be heard at any time somewhere on the radio, interviews came and went and plenty of journalists were writting about “the new hope in Greek music scene”.

How can somebody be a country’s hope in music when she doesn’t sing in the country’s mother language is a good question. The answer is easy, though not for this post, and anyway in most of her concerts she’s singing classic Greek songs along with hers. Monika has also repeatedly said that she was influenced by the (ubiquitous) Beatles and Hadjidakis, one of the most important Greek composers (1960 Academy Award for best original song).

In 2010 her second album was released, again by Archangel Music and its success was similar. The song that stands out is ‘Yes I Do‘ and the album is quite close to its predecessor both musically and lyrically in contradiction to ‘Secret In The Dark‘ that was released last year. She moved to New York and worked with the likes of Homer Steinweiss (drummer for Sharon Jone’s band, The Dap Kings) and Miike Snow‘s Andrew Wyatt, who also participated in Mark Ronson‘s recent album. The influence is inevitable and obvious resulting in something completely new for Monika, away from what everybody was expecting from her. ‘Babyboy‘, ‘Get Off My Way‘ and ‘Gave My Soul‘ are some of the best songs in the latest album, along with the one chosen for Jam of the first week of February.

An artist moving on and experimenting on something different is something I often enjoy and it’s preferred to insisting on the same over and over again either it’s successful or not. Monika‘s talent is prominent and the only thing about her that one could worry about is her modesty. I really hope that Greek journalism won’t be able to lift her feet off the Earth, though some say that this has alread happened. She’ still in the “good side” for me and I hope she stays there. Greek music needs artists like Monika, even singing in English.


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