NM: A new wave band commissioned to write a rock opera. It combines a visual/external approach to more narrative-driven/internal songs.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
NM: “Anywhere” is probably the most honest answer, but to be more specific I could say—movies, books, distressing life events, perplexing life events, and playing with other musicians, to name a few.
CH.89: What made you want to start a band and how did you come up with the band name?
NM: After college starting a band made the most sense as a way to play and record songs I was writing, even if it was more of a solo project at first. As for the name, I’ve always liked one word band names (maybe it’s a 90s thing) and Moniker seemed like the most malleable word possible, since it doesn’t really mean anything, which is true of all band names anyway.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?
NM: It’s actually hard to say at this point, because for the past few years I’ve had 2 or 3 albums in the works at any given time. It’s a little stressful juggling but makes it easier when it’s time to focus on one album and finish it. Often, I’ll have 4 or 5 songs and then the theme starts to come through the woodwork, which is when I start rewriting songs to match the feel/narrative of the album. Then the rest flows more easily, until it doesn’t (usually when it’s time to start recording)
CH.89: What would you want people/ the listener to take from your music?
NM: I want you to have an emotional reaction to it, doesn’t matter which!
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
NM: If writing or recording is going well then, it’s usually pretty quiet. Touring is the opposite though, it’s usually a constant mix of working/traveling/socializing, which I’d like for Moniker to do more in the future.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
NM: Definitely the former for me, I get the most work done and feel best when I have an idea of where I’m going. I love to plan out albums and figure out the big picture. I’m a little skeptical of the “capture the moment” approach for myself, it seems to work really well for some others, but I have at least a few hundred voice memo files in my phone that attest otherwise.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?
NM: Listen to friends’ critiques! Just because you immerse yourself in music doesn’t mean your way of hearing something is best; in fact, it can often be the opposite. And if you have a friend being honest with you about what you’re doing it can help more than anything.
NM: Finishing a project always feels good! For like 24 hours at least then I can’t listen to it for a year without worrying how it could be better.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
NM: Constantly, but it’s always changing—a list of influences overlaps pretty closely with what I’m listening to at the moment. Some current favorites are Julia Holter, Eurythmics, Minnie Ripperton, Stevie Wonder, Psychedelic Furs, and New Order, to name a few.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
NM: I don’t think it’s just useful, it’s essential. But at the same time, everything besides maybe the human voice is a piece of technology, computers and the like are just the latest iteration. Everything just evolves and updates, like going from sheet music to Logic Pro, or even music marketing— yesterday it was Top of the Pops, today it’s a Spotify playlist.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
NM: It’s possible, but I couldn’t really say. A big part of learning to write songs has been grappling with the “Romantic Artist” ideal and just learning to enjoy making things for their own sake.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
NM: I do! One thing I love about touring is getting to see places you don’t get to sightsee much, but at the same time they’re often not places I’d make a trip to on my own and I get like a sample of it, so it ends up working out. We were just in New Orleans and loved that, it felt so different from any other city in America.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
NM: Hard to say, my favorites tend to do different things from each other. The last really great thing I read was Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, those were really immersive. Some songs on the next album are pretty directly inspired by Brothers Karamazov so I can most likely say that’s another favorite.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?
NM: Besides this outlying Dostoevsky album, I’d like to write an actual rock opera/musical in the next few years, something with a clear plot and characters. Besides that, I’d mostly just like to tour as often as possible, I enjoy being on the road playing shows.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
NM: Not sure! I don’t know if I have a good answer myself, but it reminds me of a quote I read recently by Lucille Clifton that hit home: “People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that’s a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.”
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?
NM: 80s geometry, 90s hair and makeup, 2000s spirit.