Monika is a singer-songwriter who has been hailed as Greece’s most promising young artist. Her long-awaited debut album “Avatar” was released in 2008 to enthusiastic critical acclaim and introduced a wider audience to the burgeoning indie rock scene of Athens. A math student on the way to graduation who found Internet fame through MySpace and went on to sign with indie label Archangel Music, Monika’s success story is a testament to her unique talent for writing and singing passionate pop/folk songs that echo those of Rufus Wainwright, Elbow and Cat Power. At the age of 17, she started out as a background player in her brother’s rock band Serpentine, but later branched out on her own, driven by her love for the melodies of Ennio Morricone, The Beatles and The Arcade Fire, as well as the words of Leonard Cohen.
Ready to follow her own path and to celebrate the independence that characterizes her personality, she isolated herself in her home in Athens and wrote most of the music from what later would become her debut album. As it turned out, what was primarily the raw expression of her feelings proved to appeal to more people than she originally thought. After uploading a sample of her songs on MySpace, feedback was instant and massive, generating a strong word of mouth among music circles, largely thanks to her signature song “Over The Hill”.
“Avatar” arrived in 2008, produced by Ottomo. Clearly influenced by legendary Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis, “Avatar” follows suit in a folk tone and the incorporation of strings and the trumpet, courtesy of Martin Wenk from American band Calexico.
Her platinum first record and sold-out concerts, both solo and as a festival headliner, have made her a worthy antidote to most pedestrian mainstream trends. “Avatar”’s follow-up, “Exit”, was in the spring of 2010 and was one of the most long-awaited albums of the year. “Exit”, a sprawling, sentimental work, solidified Monika’s status as the country’s “indie darling” and over a 3-month span became her second gold release. In the new album, Monika experimented with sounds and instruments beyond her comfort zone with the help of sound engineer Guy Sternberg in Berlin and, once again, Ottomo’s crucial production. The result showcased Monika at her most sophisticated and erotic moment. Influenced by opera, French chanson and traditional Greek music, “Exit” puts her firmly in orbit for international stardom.
For two consecutive years, Monika played at the ARK Festival, the biggest music festival in Athens, serving as headliner in 2011 in Athens and Thessaloniki. In 2012 she headlined under the moniker “One Night Onlys”.
She appeared at a special acoustic show at the prestigious Athens & Epidaurus Festival in July 2011.
She wrote her first original composition for a stage show, “Mom – Life Is Wildly Incredible” by Angela Brouskou, which premiered November 2011.
In January 2013, Monika co-created “Primal”, a multimedia-enhanced series of live concerts at the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, based on her two personal albums. Joined by a live orchestra and chorus singers, she performed 5 sold out shows, drawing rave reviews from critics for her most ambitious and successful project to date.
Monika also wrote the music score for the stage adaptation of Sophocles’s “Antigone”, which debuted at the Benaki Museum Atrium on June 19th, directed by Natassa Triantafylli, Bob Wilson’s assistant director on “Odyssey” at the National Theatre of Greece. Facing the challenge as if it were a film soundtrack and not as a theatrical production, Monika was inspired by the dark love story hiding behind the timeless drama and worked on the play by approaching it like a fairytale. The cornerstone of the piece is the song “Choral Love (Antigone)”, composed by Monika and co-produced by Soumka. “Antigone” is going to be repeated in Paris, on June 12th 2014.
Monika’s latest release is “Secret In The Dark”, her third and most ambitious album yet. As a decidedly up-tempo amalgam of American sounds such as funk and R&B, and incorporating her signature melodies, the album was recorded in analog in New York with the help of producer Homer Steinweiss and an array of excellent musicians from the Dap Kings (who have collaborated with Sharon Jones, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse) and the Menahan Street Band (The Black Keys, Lee Fields) and was presented live at a sold out concert in the Odeon Of Herodes Atticus on July 16. It was followed by her U.S. live debut at Manhattan’s The Box in December 2014. In February 2015, she performed at Fuzz Live Music Club in Athens for two nights.