Oct 9, 2021
Monica Martin was 18 years old, driving in the car with her friend Matt and singing along with the radio. She had always enjoyed “hamming it up” and singing along to music, but she had no intention of taking it seriously. But the universe had other plans for her. Her friend, who
Matt, who was a musician, coaxed her into performing; she started to sing in public and on friends’ records, which all led to her writing her own songs. She fronted experimental-folk-pop sextet, PHOX, formed in Madison, Wisconsin in 2012. PHOX released an eponymous album, played big festivals, national TV shows, and flew overseas to play shows far away from home. PHOX went on indefinite hiatus in 2017, and Monica moved to LA because “Wisconsin is cold as f*ck”.
She found herself a periwinkle casita and is feeling freer than ever in the city of misfits. She’s presently at work unpacking her mental confusions by cataloging/celebrating the “fuckery” of her ex-es (and herself) in lowkey pop songs with soul whispers, some golden-era hollywood dramatics, and psychedelic flickers courtesy of a theremin. Monica is still figuring out who she is, but quite happy to share her cautionary tales: “I made hundreds of mistakes so you don’t have to.”
She recently released her new single “Go Easy, Kid” and is featured on the James Blake song “Show Me” from Blake’s latest release.
Monica and I did an ill fated interview in 2015 which was never released. We were both back in Wisconsin over the summer and decided the time was right to get together for an interview redo. Here she talks about discovering her musical talent in her late teens, what it means to be “Wisconsin sober”, the complex and delicate dynamics of her first band Phox, her mental health struggles, why it’s so expensive to be poor, the many ways that she has had to integrate in her life, staying in bed all day, the influence of Fiona Apple and Billie Holiday on her music, working with James Blake, Vulfpeck, Scary Pockets and how being a hairdresser is similar to being a therapist (but much less well paid).