Artist Name – Monelise
Song Title – Wild Roses
Genres – Singer-Songwriter
‘Wild Roses’ is the first release from Monelise’s ‘Hauntology’ Album.
Directed by Jake Hargreaves, the video is shot amongst the gothic scenery of Glen Coe, Scotland.
Drifting between analog imagery and cinematic landscapes, the song is reminiscent of the work of The National and Portishead.
Having lived in Scotland for half a decade, Monelise quotes poet Robin Robertson with the video’s opening quote.
Monelise is an artist whose haunting compositions moving poetic lyrics are situated in lush cinematic soundscapes.
Her music blurs the boundaries between acoustic and electronic instrumentation; hauntological longing and euphoria.
With songs that are often described as sounding like “A Kate Bush soundtrack to a David Lynch film”, she makes the sublime and the uncanny collide in a startling way.
I’m excited to release “Wild Roses” as the first single from my upcoming debut album, “Hauntology”, the material for which was conceived during my Master’s year at Goldsmiths.
The musical palette blends past and present inspirations, including Kate Bush and classic trip-hop; whereas the lyrics are inspired by a Scottish poetry anthology exploring the visceral and gothic features of nature.
The song is an invitation to come face to face with the different components that make up the tapestry of you as a person and artist.
The video, accordingly, depicts me “finding myself” somewhere between the ghosts of the past and a glimmering vision of a future yet to unfold.
Tell us how to refine a demo to a master.
This can vary from song to song. For instance, “Wild Roses” was demoed as a voice and piano version and evolved to its current, fully produced state in the studio, with the help of some reference tracks used for sonic inspiration.
Ultimately this song can still be performed in its original, piano and voice arrangement despite the dense sonic landscape in the recorded version.
In other cases, for instance with my upcoming single “Memory”, the production was an integral part of the writing process. So, I brought the song to the studio where it was mixed and mastered with most of the production already in place. When I perform this song live, I try to replicate the recording as closely as possible with the help of live electronics and evocative instruments like the Theremin.
In other words, how a song goes from a demo to a master, and how it ultimately exists in its live and recorded versions, depends on the context in which it was originally conceived.
Discuss the processing involved in creating a song.
My songs have been born in a great multitude of contexts. I have randomly had a melody and lyric pop into my head and felt compelled to run to the piano and “work it out” as soon as possible before it leaves me.
I have begun songs in the studio using amalgamations of samples, building a sonic landscape, and later finding lyrics to match.
Equally, I have begun with lyrical stories— often inspired by books, poems, and cinema— that were then put to music at a later stage.
Songs have also been born from co-writing sessions with other artists and songwriters.
Typically, in the songs I ultimately end up keeping (a small percentage of what is written), the elements come together very seamlessly and organically.
I prefer as little separation as possible between music, lyrics, and production; they sort of exist together as a mind, body, and soul.
Elaborate on the theme of most of your songs.
The most common themes in my music include delving into the liminal “world between worlds”; sonic “time travel” (bridging the past and present through music); and nostalgia.
When writing music I try to access the subconscious and sonically expand on the themes that emerge from there.
Sometimes I will intuitively write lyrics that don’t make sense at the time, but later something will happen and suddenly the song makes complete sense. So they become almost prophetic.
Tell us your greatest musical works up to date.
My favorite song I have written to date is called “We’ll Meet Again”. It is my favorite to perform live and will feature on my upcoming album.
It combines the atmosphere of a David Lynch film with the chord progressions of James Bond and is lyrically about embracing unpredictability and infinite possibilities.
If we are talking about a full body of work, then I am probably most proud of the live show I created as my final Master’s project at Goldsmiths.
I am currently transforming this into a recorded album that I’d like to call “Hauntology” to honor my influences whilst at university. This is the album’s fundraiser page: Indiegogo.
Tell us those behind your music process.
Last year I finished a Master’s degree in Popular Music at Goldsmiths and this was a year that really transformed both my music and my live show.
I very much value the opinion of people I met there and am inspired by their work.
I sometimes write music solo and sometimes with co-writers and producers, who are another great inspiration.
My bandmates are incredible and yet another creative force that inspires me to keep growing and evolving.
Tell us how you are handling the promotion of your music.
I am currently on a European Sofar tour with my new songs, which has been incredible so far.
The audiences Sofar attracts are incredible and it’s an honor to be able to perform for them.
I am simultaneously creating video content for the album’s first two singles: “Wild Roses” and “Memory”.
Meanwhile, my album’s fundraiser is running online and I hope to have it completed this summer.
Tell us your future goals and how you aim to accomplish them.
Some of my future goals are to go on a tour to America (and hopefully the world one day!), write several film scores, and put out at least one album every 2-3 years.
I plan to accomplish this by staying persistent and committed, constantly evolving my music and live show, and putting out better and better content.
Tell us what you think has changed in the music industry.
The music industry has transformed in so many ways. Although there are so many incredible artists out there, it is not all a big competition for the “spotlight.”
Everyone can find their own niche audience anywhere in the world using the infinite resources we now have at our fingertips.
I am greatly inspired and motivated by the fact it is now entirely possible to build your success independently and on your own in terms of today’s music landscape.
Tell the greatest mistake to avoid while making a song.
I think this is individual for everyone, but for me, it is over-thinking or trying too much to emulate another song or artist.
The best songs always come from telling your own story and creating your own sonic world. This is fully authentic, interesting, and draws people in.
Tell us how you boost your performance.
I try to be neither too relaxed nor too nervous for a live show. A good amount of nerves is good; every gig matters (and should be treated as such), and you need a bit of adrenaline!
I always remind myself of the exhilarating and inimitable feeling of a great live performance and get myself pumped up that way.
Discuss how the instruments come together for a song.
Structure, arrangement, and instrumentation should all work together to serve the song and its main idea or purpose. This is why I don’t have similar structures in all my songs. Although, I do believe every song needs some sort of energetic progression.
To give an example, I have a song called “Memory” which is a sort of love song to another, much older song. Sonically it “time-travels” between the past and present, where the two voices (mine and the sampled one from the other track) overlap during different parts of the song.
The structure serves to enhance this sense of being immersed in almost a past life memory, whereas instrumentation and effects (Theremin, vinyl crackle, radio noise, old vintage piano) all “live and breathe” in this very particular sonic context.
State your musical skills.
I have previously studied classical piano and musical theatre style signing.
Currently, I play keys, Theremin, sing and operate live electronics. I also create the visual elements of my live set.
Tell us if you consider acting in a movie.
Definitely! I spent quite a few years acting before I got fully into music and am greatly inspired by cinema.
“Cinematic” is a world that really characterizes my sound. I would love to both score a film and someday act in one.
Tell us how you eliminate noise in your recordings.
I often do the opposite, as noise/vinyl crackle are part of some of my songs’ aesthetic.
List the name of artists you cherish most.
Kate Bush, Bjork, David Lynch / Angelo Badalamenti, Leonard Cohen, BANKS, Marina Abramovic, Frederic Chopin, Enrico Caruso, Yann Tiersen.
Tell us how you get inspiration.
As a songwriter, I am constantly drawing inspiration from everything around me unless it decides to “seize” me itself, which is very rare and special.
I am inspired, for instance, by poetry, literature, cinema, other artists’ songs and production choices, my own autobiographical experiences as well as other people’s stories.
I am also inspired by the unexplored, undiscovered world that exists beyond this one; something we can always choose to tap into.
Elaborate on the song.
The lyrics for “Wild Roses” were inspired by a poetry anthology by Scottish poet Robin Robertson.
It is a beautiful book of poetry called “Sailing the Forest”, which presents nature in a very visceral, living way.
I lived in Scotland for 5 years, studying Literature and partaking in different art forms, and have always been inspired by its mystical, gothic landscapes. This also informed the choice of filming the “Wild Roses” video in Glen Coe.
The sonic world of the song, which was created with the help of a great producer called Tom Gibson, was inspired by both the old and the contemporary.
I drew on productions like “Teardrop”, “The Sensual World”, and “Expose” (Sunday Munich) and blended the trip-hop vibes with ethereal melodies and haunting vocal layers.
With the lyrics and production combined, the song stands as an invitation to look beyond this world into something much darker and more mysterious— a place where past, present, and future collide in a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory vision.
Elaborate on the title of the album.
The album name, “Hauntology”, was chosen to honour my time at Goldsmiths, where these songs were conceived – originally for a live show, hence the cinematic nature of the songs that will be on the record.
Hauntology, a concept I also discovered during research for my Master’s project, refers to a sense of being haunted by “lost futures” and consequently drawing on the “ghosts of the past” for inspiration.
Although my music is not by nature hauntological (like, for instance, the music of The Caretaker), many of my songs very much dance with the ghosts of the past whilst retaining a strong sense of their own identity.