Born and raised in Venice, California, Monica Aben comes from a varied musical household where music was in her everyday life. Her music career started when she was 18 years old. She tried to follow the advice of “industry professionals”, yet they remarked that her wholesome self wasn’t enough. But that all that was about to change after a trip to London in January 2020 where Monica met her now manager. He set up writing sessions and introduced her to a wealth of industry people that encouraged her to be her own artist. For the first time, she met a group of influential people that wanted Monica to be herself.
The singer-songwriter talked to ai love music via email about her musical upbringing, her influences, and the theme behind her latest release Postcards. Find out how the EP was inspired by the moments of her life by continuing to read on. Also, while you are reading, make sure to check out the EP, which is also down below. Let me know what is your favorite track in the comments!
First of all, please introduce yourself!
Hey! I’m Monica Aben and I’m a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California. I love all things vintage and analog and consider myself a top taco connoisseur. I also have a pet parrot that is only 4 years old (they live 45 years), so there’s your
proof that I’m a very dedicated person… for better or worse.
How did you get into music? What has that journey been like?
I played piano off and on since I was four, and after a year of very bad health in high school, I took up the guitar! It felt so weird to play without singing along, so I started singing, and WHAM! I always wrote stories and my own version of poetry, so it was only a matter of time before I started writing my own songs. The journey has consisted of so many highs, so many “I quit” moments, and lots of “what am I even doing” days…
BUT what I find interesting, is that those are the days I wind up writing my favorite songs or having the best new ideas. The journey itself is essential to writing songs because it’s what I write about!
What musical genres and artists influence you and your music?
I think singer-songwriter folk/country-influenced my writing the most think Laura Marling, Taylor Swift, Lucy Rose, & Ben Rector. But then there’s an aspect of some of the songs by The Killers that I use for references often because they are anthems, but somehow delicate at the same time. I love that.
It’s 2022! What is one goal you’ve created for this year?
One goal I created this year is that I’m FINALLY going to sit down and flesh out my music. That’s all I’m going to say about it. But it’s been mulling in my brain for 3 years now and I LOVE the number 22 so it feels like a sign…THIS IS THE YEAR.
Let’s talk about your latest release Postcards. Is there a singular theme that ties all the songs together or does each song have its own theme?
The concept of Postcards came after I put all these songs together because they were mostly about places or very specific moments in time. I felt like they were sonic postcards that were sent to me from my past self or written to send to my future self. Think “Greetings From CPH/ Venice/ Los Angeles” or ‘With love, from YOUR PAST” for Reasons to Reminisce, etc. I also loved that these songs were mostly loved letters to cities that shaped me. I have so many love songs and heartbreak songs, but I thought this was a unique project because cities have souls too… They can break your heart and mend you just as a friend or lover might do!
What sort of tones, words, textures, and sounds do you really want to capture in your music?
This is going to sound a tad dramatic, but I try to make my songs timeless. I think that is why it took me so long to lean into more pop production because I didn’t want the songs to live in whatever year I made them forever. But I also wanted them to feel light and airy and big all at the same time.
Whether it’s a full bad or something more intimate, I love when each instrument has its own melody. For example, as a listener of music, I often fall in love with some melody that I discover in a guitar track that isn’t the main melody. So I’m rather obsessed with creating those tucked melodies that someone like me might discover and fall in
What was the production of the EP like?
Well, truth be told, Justin Glasco and I were working on this EP in the Summer of 2020, so we were still in the thick of the pandemic and it was lots of all-day zooms and sending things back forth. But thank God we had that because it really kept life rather cheery, and we had a blast doing it. As for me, who is usually NOT that involved in production due to my boomer mentality when it comes to tech, I really enjoyed having his shared screen up there. I could see what he was doing and he explained how and why we created certain sounds and it was a lovely learning experience for me!
You’ve worked with so many excellent producers, musicians, and engineers on this EP. What was one thing you learned from them?
I’d say there are two things I’ve learned that have really changed how I write.
Number 1: DON’T BE SO WORDY MONICA. I consistently must chop verses and bridges because almost all my bridges are usually double the length. Granted there is a time and place for one, but if you can’t already tell, I’m an incredibly chatty person and that transfers over to my songwriting!
Number 2: Don’t force it. Let the song show you who it is. This has been the hardest for me to follow because sometimes when I write a song I have such a clear idea of what I want it to sound like, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. But at the same time, how magical is that a song, much like a human being, is brought to life and somehow has its own destiny. I’ve been trying to see the
magic in that lately with the new stuff I’m writing.
What do you want listeners to listen for in your music?
Listen for the freedom between the lines. The space within the song is meant for them to let their minds wander into that world, into the song. Who are they in the world I created? Are they dancing down CPH city streets too? What does their main character look like in that world? That is what I do with songs I love so I hope there is someone out there that does that too because that’s why I write how I write.
Any future plans?
I’m going to start working on an album, my musical, and writing more songs in Spanish (which my family has been asking me to do since the beginning of time, haha). Those are my 2022 bullet points! But let me tell you, the first song I’ve written this year feels so different, but also very me. I’m excited to continue growing and I think everyone that has followed my journey to this point will be pleasantly surprised with what is coming next.