THERE are few who have the background…
and life of Monti. She speaks to me about her transition from the streets - and how she has turned that experience into something positive. I find out about her new track, Echo, and the story behind that; what she has planned in terms of new material; the music scene where she is in L.A. – and some of the projects she has been involved in.
Monti discusses the artists who have influenced her; the albums that have affected her (as a human and musician) and what she has planned regards touring – and whether we can see her in the U.K. anytime.
Hi, Monti. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! It has been incredible! Thank you!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hey, everyone! My name is Monti. I’m a recording artist, songwriter and philanthropist.
I am interested in the single, Echo. What is the tale behind the song?
Thank you! I wanted to create something deeper with my music…
I really wanted to tell my own story and the stories of the youth that I am around daily and mentor. I wanted to talk about the struggles I had, and that they still have with growing up - and are dealing with various unfortunate circumstances, including homelessness; being in foster care, abuse; addictions etc. I wanted to speak out to them and for them and, to next generation in general, let them know that I've been there - and I made it out...and so can they.
The single, Echo, refers to our voices and the next generation’s voices - and the need to be heard. I found that I not only wanted the voices and message to be ‘heard’; but to be a heard loudly as a declaration and ‘echo’ - so it may continue on to be heard by the next person as well; so they can, hopefully, be inspired (and so on)...
You wrote the track with Josh Stevens. What was that experience like? Did you know each other before working on the song?
I met Josh Stevens through another project.
I was brought in the studio to work with him on that project and, later, approached him regarding my vision for my next solo artist project. He saw the potential and believed in it. This started my incredible musical relationship with him and his company, Stadium Music Enterprise - where we worked on bringing this vision to life.
When we went in for the first writing session, we were definitely in-sync. As the song progressed over time, he also found his own voice in the single, as he did the feature on it - that was also an experience shared from his own story. He’s become one of my favorites to co-write with, for sure - and I can’t wait to see what we do next!
Do you think there will be more material coming next year?
I am continuing to work with Josh Stevens and Stadium Music Enterprise on an E.P. - which we are planning to release by early-2018!
Your lyrics address harder subjects and provoke thought. Is it quite tough being so revealing and open in your music?!
Not at all: I feel like it’s the opposite, actually.
It’s easy for me to be so open because it’s part of my purpose (of) being a music artist - in spreading my message – therefore, it comes naturally. I’ve found it’s actually tougher writing songs that have no depth or real message.
How did you manage to go from a runaway – dodging foster care systems – to a young woman releasing music? How hard has it been transitioning from that situation?
I like to say I have had guardian angels here on Earth.
During the time, I was still on and off the streets and hanging out in gang life; I ended up singing hooks for several rappers in home recording studios - and that lead me to meet artist/producer, Lamar Lacañgan. He and his family took me under their wings and mentored me. Soon enough, he started his Independent record label, O.Y.I.E. Records, and offered me a record deal; where we immediately started working on my first album - where I wrote my first songs ever. That was the start of my career as a recording artist but, more importantly, that was the start of my transformation.
I got so much more than just a record deal - but a sense of unconditional love, community and new possibilities. Lamar and his team clearly had a heart for inner city/at-risk youth - and, so, they later started the non-profit, O.Y.I.E. Music - where I became their first success story.
I always say that they and that whole experience saved my life. It definitely was not an easy transition but, for the first time, I was introduced to the power of choice and to a whole new world; one that I could be in and could accomplish greatness in - if I chose to - and, since then, I continuously keep striving, persevering and working to become better as a human being - for myself and for others to make a difference (like it was for me).
Do you feel more settled and safe at the moment? Are there plans afoot for 2018?
I have been so blessed surrounded by amazing people and continue to create my world with my choices one moment at a time. 2018 is going to be incredible! So many great things in the works.
We are planning to release an E.P by the middle of next year.
What was your music upbringing life like? Which artists stood out to you when you were younger?
My mom had a very eclectic vinyl collection; made up of a wide variety of music of the roaring 1920s; Broadway show-tunes, Pop tunes from different eras - ranging from the 1960s – 1980s. As a child, I listened to all of it and then some - but mainly her Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson; Lionel Richie and Motown records (the most). Throughout my troubled childhood, I remember music becoming a bit of a refuge for me as a way to escape, I think. I always gravitated to the kind of music that had soul, passion; depth; told stories and/or just felt good to listen to.
As a teenager, specifically, I listened to a lot of Hip-Hop, R&B and Soul - mainly 2Pac, Ice Cube; Too Short, Fugees; Lauryn Hill, R Kelly; Brian McKnight, Dru Hill; Lil' Kim - and then there was Nirvana, too, of course (smiles).
How important is Los Angeles and its people to your stability and music inspiration?
I love living in L.A.!
Being around the variety of different cultures, food and art really helps build my creativity - and gives me new ideas daily. The fast lifestyle and constant drive of the people here also keep me inspired - to keep moving and creating. I only surround myself with people who motivate me to become better - and are the ‘doers’ of the world. This also plays an important role in my overall balance. I definitely need the quiet and slower times as well, which I've also found here through other activities that L.A. provides - with the beach and hikes and beautiful scenery.
So; I mostly love how L.A. can provide me with that balance as well.
IN THIS PHOTO: Damien Horne
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
During my younger childhood; I would say Janet Jackson’s Control (on cassette-tape!)
HAHA. This stands out for sure because this music inspired me to put on dance concerts in my neighborhood with my best friend - which gave me happiness and a positive outlet to escape the chaotic home environment I was surrounded in at the time.
Growing up in adolescent years; I would say HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (double-disc) by Michael Jackson. I remember when this first came out; I became glued to it because it spoke to a lot of my life that had already happened - and helped me get through a lot of trauma in my life up to that point.
Then, later in early adult years, it was Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged (double-disc). This changed my life, because it was the first time I had heard an artist be so raw and vulnerable and then, from that moment on, I knew I always needed to just be authentic with everything - as a person; by telling my life stories and sharing them with the world.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? Will you be coming to the U.K. next year?
Yes! I’ll be performing at L.A.’s historical venue, Dresden, on November 20th at 9 P.M.! You can find out more on my website.
I definitely hope to be coming to the U.K. next year - if I get booked out there!
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Find and focus on what it is you really want to say; be known as and stay committed to that - as you can only do what you do...
Also, to think about ‘legacy’; as we're only here for a short time - and have been given a gift that has the power to impact people and the world immensely. So; make sure you're really doing what you want to be doing - as you're the only one who can do what you do.
No matter where you come from, or what you've been through, you can make it; if you choose to...
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
I will definitely be busy working and getting ready for 2018.
We have lots of great things in-the-works! I will also be spending the holiday month with my family in Hawaii.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
I Try by Clay Campania