Friday, July 3, 2009

Pheaturing Darci Monet


Happy Birthday, America, if you were a chick I'd do do... 'cause I think you're hot but not in a Kelly Clarkson kinda way. Hello, kids, welcome to the Phile for another Phriday, proud sponsor of and Tomorrow is Independence Day, not to be confused with In Depends Day, a day old people celebrate. Tomorrow at the Magic Kingdom the new Hall of Presidents opens with Obama. You know they are not gonna have any flies in that building. It's late, and I have to still shower before bed, so let's get on with the Phile today, alright?

Russian troops kill 6,000 in Odessa to break a general strike.
Two former secretaries of the Nation of Islam file paternity suits against the head of their church, the honorable Elijah Muhammad. They claimed the prophet had fathered their four children. The allegations eventually cause Malcolm X to quit the NOI.
Jim Morrison is found dead of an apparent heart attack in his Paris apartment bathtub. That's what he wants us to think, anyway.
Vladimir Nikolayev is sentenced to death for killing and eating two people in Novocheboksary, Chuvashia. When police arrested Nikolayev the previous year, they found human meat roasting on the stove, more in the oven, and body parts stashed on his balcony packed in snow.
Mistaking it for a F-14 fighter plane, the American warship USS Vincennes shoots down Iran Air flight 655, killing all 290 people aboard. Despite his country's having recklessly downed a passenger airliner while operating inside Iran's territorial waters, Vice President George Bush declares a month later: "I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don't care what the facts are."
Television actor Jim Backus, known to millions as Thurston Howell III from "Gilligan's Island", dies in Los Angeles of Parkinson's disease.

Today's guest is a singer from California who has a brand new album out now. Please welcome to the Phile... Darci Monet.

Me: Hello, Darci, welcome to the Phile. So, are you related to the painter Monet?

Darci: Well, there have been murmurings in the family that we are related but I cannot officially say yes because no one's bothered to get a proper family tree done. That's actually something I've always wanted to (and will) do one day.

Me: Unlike his paintings which suck close up, but look better far away, you are good looking no matter how close you are. By the way, that's a compliment. You're from L.A., right? Were you born there?

Darci: I have ex-boyfriends that would argue otherwise. Makeup works wonders, my friend. Much like paint on a canvas. I am not originally from L.A. at all, though I've lived here for eight years now. I take much pride in the fact that I am a native New Yorker (the Albany area) and after high school spent quite a few years in Nashville, TN attending college and kicking off my career. Both places are home to me.

Me: You wondered why I wanted to interview you, saying you're not that interesting. I think you're very interesting, Darci. Tell the readers of the Phile about "Fusion". Did it take you a long time to record it?

Darci: "Fusion" took WAY longer than I anticipated! It's been about three and a half years from conception to the upcoming release date on May 12th. Actually longer if you consider that there are a couple old songs on it that I had written early in my career that I had just never gotten around to recording till now. There was more than one occasion that I thought it would never get finished at all. But I'm also a believer that things happen in their own perfect timing. I feel like I was able to use that time to learn some new things and make some new contacts that will be beneficial to releasing an indie album properly.

Me: Where was it recorded and who produced it?

Darci: All of the full band songs were tracked primarily in Nashville, TN by my friend Ron Jagger, with whom I went to college at Belmont University. He was able to get a few of my old friends to play on it, which is a real blessing to me, cuz I miss them fiercely! From that point I moved production to L.A. for proximity and Steve Gryphon took over the reigns from there. I was introduced to him through Debby Holiday, for whom I sing backup around town (she's amazing! And that was a great gift, too, because it was really important to me that this album not sound at all like my first one, because Nashville has a very specific production sound and apparently that showed up on my first album. There's certainly nothing wrong with it if you're a country artist, but I wasn't then and am not now so I definitely wanted someone with rock and edgy pop experience under their belt for this project. Steve learned everything he knows under Glen Ballard's wing (Alanis' "Jagged Little Pill") and worked with Avril Lavigne and Gavin DeGraw among plenty of others. At the same time, he just produced Emma Ejwertz' new project ("Dizzy Arms"), which is is very dreamy and ethereal, which was what I needed for the acoustic songs. It was the right choice and a perfect example of the perfect timing, because I'm really happy with how things turned out.

Me: Your first album was called "My Own Road", right? How is "Fusion" compared to that album?

Darci: Personally, I don't think they sound enough alike for anyone to accuse me of stagnating in a particular sound, but I don't think they sound so different that it sounds like two completely different artists, either. I've still got my big ole diva voice of course, that's my signature. But MOR has a more classic rock feel to it and my effort there was simply to showcase my voice, my songs and my band. I am proud of it for that reason, because that's exactly what we accomplished. Also, MOR was practically a concept album. I had a lot going on physically and emotionally at the time and all the songs were born of that journey. But Fusion lyrically represents several snapshots in time as opposed to one continuous story arc. Plus it was an effort to focus some of my writing more commercially (cuz commercial doesn't ALWAYS mean crappy) and put some bells and whistles on it in production value. Lastly, I wanted to show the softer side to my voice as well. There's nothing more annoying than a chick that can't do anything BUT belt. Shut up already! I wanted something for everyone on this CD and I think we managed it.

Me: Were you in Napoleon Dynamite and "How I Met Your Mother"? You wrote songs that were in a lot of TV shows, right?

Darci: My VOICE is in ND and "HIMYM" but you don't see me. And thank God, cuz I'm soooooo not an on-camera girl. I feel very awkward and moronic in front of them. That's why I've been a backup singer by trade all these years! But I digress. If you've seen ND (and who hasn't?) that's me singing a clip of "The Rose" early on in the movie in the "Happy Hands Club" scene. In "HIMYM", I was lucky enough to sing the harmonies and call-response phrases for Ms. Robin Sparkles herself in "Sandcastles in the Sand." It's a shame that song didn't hit it big like "Let's Go To The Mall" did. I really felt it was Robin's creative pinnacle as an artist. Damn shame. You can find the video all over YouTube still, I believe. Oh... and thanks to my writing partner Levi Kreis ( cutting some of our songs on his albums, I have indeed had some songs placed on television and in indie films that he sings on. My fave was "Days of Our Lives" cuz that was "MY STORY" (as they say in the south) when I was in college. Now I hope to be able to return the favor for him with the co-writes we have on MY album. *fingers crossed*

Me: When did you start singing and songwriting? I just started recently started songwriting myself.

Darci: Well, as for the singing, my mom has always told this story that as a baby, I wouldn't wake up crying like infants typically do, but she'd come in the room and there I'd be holding my toes and "singing" away. I began performing when I was...oy...still in the single digits. Musicals and such. So there's that. Songwriting... I wrote my first two-chord masterpiece at 13, as I recall. I could not tell you what it was called, but I couldn't even sing the melody in my head that went with it cuz it was too high and I ONLY knew those two chords so I couldn't lower the key. The writing came later because I was classically trained on violin and piano, which translates loosely to, "here's the music, play these notes and nothing BUT these notes." I had to work really hard to figure out chords on my own to write songs. It's still the albatross around my neck, frankly. That's why I like to co-write with people who can actually play. I can throw out phrases I remember from my miserable college theory classes like, "try the five" or "gimme a six of three" and sound really smart when in actuality I have NO IDEA what the hell I even mean.

Me: You are also a vocal coach, right? How many students do you have and where do you teach?

Darci: Yes, I am a vocal coach! And I have openings for students right now! (how's that for a subtle pitch?) I teach in my cute little apartment adjacent to the NoHo Arts District in Los Angeles. I coach part time so I never allow myself more than ten students max a week. Otherwise I think I'd go a little crazy, feeling like that was ALL I was doing. I enjoy coaching but I like to mix it up with other things so I don't fall into a rut. That's not fair to the student if their teacher is bored.

Me: What do you think about "American Idol"? I liked Megan.

Darci: Well, I'm addicted to American Idol and have been since I heard Ms. Clarkson sing her very first note. I have even been writing reviews on the contestants' performances each week since season two (for the also-addicted:! Megan... well, I understand what they saw in her in the first place with her unique voice and stunning beauty, but the poor girl had no idea who she was as an artist herself and kept picking these very awkward songs for herself. But if someone cool gets ahold of her, she could put out a very hip album that I'd actually consider buying.

Me: Tell the readers about That's a cause you feel very strong about, right?

Darci: Alright, you asked! I generally don't get political as an artist; I don't feel it's my calling. I wasn't put here to be the voice of angst and uprising; I'm just a singer. However, I do support marriage equality for everyone and anyone who wants to participate in it and this one issue I will get LOUD about. I feel it's a civil rights issue as opposed to a moral or religious issue and in America, we do not create laws based on the wishes of any one religious group. To do so is completely contradictory (and a slap in the face, frankly) to the brave sacrifices made by our founding fathers and mothers. Therefore, efforts to ban marriage equality via our federal and state constitutions because some people find it "immoral" or "against their religion" absolutely cannot continue because it is simply unAmerican. And it won't, mark this straight chick's words. Neeeext...

Me: So, any tours booked to back up "Fusion"?

Darci: Not yet! I will probably just make a few local appearances here, in Nashville and perhaps my hometown of Johnstown, NY for starters. Maybe Vegas cuz I love the place and I'll take any excuse to go there! I'd be delighted to play a few Pride Festivals, though. We're working on it.

Me: Is there any other websites you wanna plug?

Darci: Ummmm... well, I somehow managed not to mention my own so far... anything else anyone would want to know is at You can order "Fusion" there and have it mailed to you. It'll be available physically AND digitally on there and CDBaby. Also, my co-writer Levi Kreis has a new album coming out on May 5th and I've got a song cut and sing on it. He just gave me a copy the other day... it's REALLY beautiful. He's so talented that I kinda hate him most of the time. With all the love in my heart, of course.

Me: I hope this interview was fun, and I wish you continued success, Darci. Hope to interview you again soon.

Darci: And I hope it's in turn enjoyable for your readers. Thank you so much for the opportunity!


Thanks to Darci for a great interview. I love interviewees with long answers. Anyway, check out her album "Fusion" on iTunes. The Phile will be back on Monday with Mark Trojanowski from Sister Hazel. Pretty damn cool, eh? I apologize that this blog was kinda short but it's getting late and I have a loooonnng day tomorrow at work. Bloody 4th! Anyway, have a safe weekend and spread the word, not the turd.

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