Monica LaPlante: My friends got sick of me complaining, so I wrote an album
Photo by Serah Sauser
In the dimly-lit living room of her Uptown apartment, Minneapolis -- by way of Rochester, Minnesota -- performer Monica LaPlante talks about her debut EP that she has recently released for streaming. The young singer sits on a couch while a cardboard cutout of Michael Cera looms behind her and is constantly distracted with her roommate's cat that insists on being part of the conversation. Her album, Jour, has the intense struggle of a Millennial living in the '60s era. The dichotomy is the genius of the album, unfolding slowly as the songs reveal themselves. Essentially, it could be the soundtrack to an episode of the Wonder Years.
Gimme Noise spoke with Monica -- who herself is a regular writer for the site -- before her album release show at the Ritz Theater this evening about how she views the music scene and citing how a broken heart makes for the perfect album.
A recent grad of McNally Smith, Monica remarks that she didn't remarks that she really didn't come out of her shell until she started interning at the Pearl Studio in Northeast Minneapolis. When asked how she got over that fear of getting onstage, she whispers, "I don't perform a lot, but even so, it's not scary for me. I feel performing is different than going up to people and talking to somebody out of the blue. I'm not quiet if people approach me, but I'm not always the initiator. That might hurt me when 'networking,' but I like to do my own thing." Part of the process of coming out of her shell came in the form of a teacher that was patient and willing to show LaPlante how to make demos.
That teacher was Jeremy Messersmith. Monica had no clue how to work GarageBand, and during one of the lessons, Jeremy calmly went through the steps that allowed her to capture songs she had been conjuring. LaPlante was able to experiment with her sound, giving herself exercises to replicate songs from bands she liked such as Belle and Sebastian and the Zombies, and eventually moving on to a genre fitting for her voice -- '60s beach pop. Monica says she doesn't make a conscious effort to sound like someone else on Jour, but does admit to it being a reflection of other music.
"It's never true when artists say their music is original. When I was in school, we did this project where you had to pick a song you liked. From there, you had to look up who that band was influenced by, and see who that band was inspired by to make a chain back to the root of the song, which is neat. Whether you realize it or not, nothing you do is unique or original. You can put your own spin on it, but you're always gonna by inspired by something."
As her time at school slowly inched along, Monica was pointed to an internship at the Pearl with brothers Noah and Zach Hollander. The studio was starting to pick up steam, and Noah was looking into signing some artists to their new label, Hollander Records. As she was getting her feet wet and simply doing small errands for Noah, he found out that she was a singer and asked to get a demo disk from Monica. LaPlante was reluctant about sharing her music, so on her way out the door, she threw a disk at Noah and rushed out the door. The singer got a call later that day from Noah merely saying, "I want to talk to you."
Forgetting that she had given Hollander her disk, she thought she was in trouble. When she went back into the studio, Noah told her, "Why did you not say anything about how great your music is? I really love it and want you to be on the label." Relieved, she was shocked that someone liked her music, even better was that person was someone she admired. "It was really tough for me to find people I connected with in the Cities. I didn't know if I wanted to stay in Minneapolis when I was done with school, but meeting Noah and Zach was a breath of fresh air and validated that maybe what I'm doing is good. I realize it's not always people's thing."
That "thing" is something that Monica was able to condense into six songs for Jour. The musician often writes about unrequited love, or relationships that often don't work out. Based on real life situations, not just one event, but rather several things mixed together. Monica shares, "They're more about 'I can't be with you for this reason.' I don't write about one certain person, so I try not to think too closely about it. I'm not gonna send it to somebody and say, 'This is about you.' I think most of it was my friends got sick of me complaining about guys, so I put it into a song since no one was going to listen to me anymore. It was me saying, 'Fine, I'll write about it, so more people will listen to it.' I'm a musical complainer, but being able to accurately voice how I feel is therapeutic for me."
Monica LaPlante will have her release show for Jour at the Ritz Theater on Thursday, June 6, 2013 with the Velveteens and Channels.
18+, $10, 8 pm
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