There comes a time when an artist creates work completely different from their previous ones. Next ting you know, when their newest album is released, fans seem shocked by the new music they listen to and they can’t help but express something in the lines of: “Oh God, they changed, I prefer the old [insert artist’s name]. However, when it comes to Monica Cialona, her growth is unlikely dramatic. Her new single “Radiate” reflects indeed a strong woman influenced by the environment she lives in who embraces change like summer embraces fall. Her passion for music screams louder on this single than on her previous works. The essence of Monica is still present in her new song, but this time she isn’t afraid to shine, or should I say, to radiate. Enjoy our interview with the humble artist in which she generously opens up on New York City, female empowerment, and fashion.
Since our last interview, I can tell a lot has changed and that you have grown as an artist. In fact, “Radiate” seems to be a departure from your previous musical style, at least different from your On The Edge Of The Earth EP. What has been your process of creating lately? What made you want to try pop music? What has been inspiring you since then?
After living in New York City for a long time, I have been absorbing the dynamics of the fast phased, multi-cultured vibe of the city, so the sonority of “Radiate” is the product of the researched of sounds that inspired me freshness, newness, and summer.
What are the inspiration and the meaning behind the beat and the lyrics of “Radiate”?
The beat is fast and modern, reflecting the glass windows of the skyscrapers in downtown. The lyrics reflect the lifestyle of the city, however, still looking for an escape from the crazy routine of our lives.
How was the process of writing “Radiate”? How was it to write with Nathalie Raedler and Kathleen Atanian? And what about the production with Giosue' Greco?
Radiate is the result of the collaboration with two amazing songwriters: Nathalie Raedler and Kathleen Atanian. I met Nathalie and Kathleen at Berklee during a songwriting class, and we became good friends. Collaborating with other songwriters inspires you and it’s a great way to develop ideas and be open to other point of views. I also met Giosue’ at Berklee, and after listening to his productions with other singer-songwriters, I was fascinated by his work, so I asked him to collaborate with me as a producer, and I’m glad he accepted. He is really talented and he has great musical ideas.
How did the collaboration with female rapper Jass Bianchi came up and how was the collaboration in the studio? Do you also see this collaboration as female empowerment?
A good friend of mine introduced me to Jass because I was looking for a female rapper to be featured my song. I’ve listened to Jass’s work and I liked her a lot, plus I do believe that in such tough business for women, it’s really important that we support and collaborate with each other.
Do you like rap music and do you think you would ever try and go into that direction one day?
I do appreciate rap and hip-hop music artists like Drake, the Roots and songwriters who collaborate with hip-hop and rap artists. I don’t see myself necessarily becoming a rap, or hip-hop artist, but I like experimenting and mixing things up.
We have talked before about collaborating on other artists’ projects, but this time an artist collaborated on yours. What are the differences? Is the experience the same?
When you work for somebody else, your focus is making that person happy in your limits, so therefore, my job is merely to do my best to give what is needed; in this occasion, the challenge was trying to figure out what would be the best for the making of my product as a good product.
How was filming the video? How did you get the idea of having dancers? And where in New York was it exactly filmed? I also noticed that we don’t see a lot in the video for “Radiate” and I think we should see you more often to get to know you more. Or is this done on purpose?
I had a fun experience filming the video. The video director, Gerardo J Vitale, did a great job, as well as the dancers that improvised during the entire time. Being a dance song, I thought it was a cool idea to have professional dancers in the video to keep the energy up. The first half of the video was filmed at the waterfront in Long Island, then we moved to Manhattan, in the lower east side.
It was done in purpose actually. I didn’t want to be in the video at all and just give space to the dancers. Also for the sonority of the music, I tough it could be a good idea to have dancers, and not me singing at the camera, since I can’t dance. Nowadays we see a lot of videos where the artists are not the protagonists of the video, see for example the video of “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber.
Is there an EP or full album coming soon? If so, will it follow the same style as “Radiate”? And what about a tour?
I want to be more active in releasing singles. The next song will be a ballad and it’s called “Take Me Higher”. Maybe in the future I’ll think about a new album as well.
I just had a concert at Pianos, a venue in New York, and it was great. I have other venues that asked me to do a show, so I want to perform live as much as possible.
When we compare the video for “On The Edge Of The Earth” to “Radiate,” we also see a fashion evolution as well. Both styles match their respective videos and style of songs. How would you describe your style? Do you choose to have a certain correlation between music and fashion in your art like many pop artists? What do you think of that combination?
The video shoot of “On The Edge Of The Earth” was a live video recording in the studio with the musicians, and for that occasion I chose a more casual confortable outfit. For “Radiate” I chose to have a video-clip made, and yes, I wanted to reflect my own style. I do believe that correlating fashion and music is really important for your image and career. There are many artists that I appreciate like Biörk, who beyond producing amazing music put a lot of effort in curing their own image.
Is there any new music you have discovered lately and would like to recommend?
How do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself writing and producing at a higher level, and living for music.