Mononoke is an artist you want to keep your eye on. The incredibly talented Liverpool-born singer/songwriter is on the lips of every new music journalist right now. Intense, dark, and atmospheric is how Mononoke’s music sounds, and that’s before her hauntingly beautiful voice is even added into the mix. Her song-writing is layered, twisted storytelling, which invites listeners to explore the lyrics and find their own personal meaning in them. If you fall for artists who you instantly recognise the second their new music is played on the radio, then you are going to fall hard for Mononoke.
With her debut EP released only weeks ago, she has already been added to Radio 1’s Best of BBC Introducing playlist, is regularly championed by Huw Stephans, and last month was named as one of Annie Mac’s #NewNames. Mononoke may have a dark sound, but she most definitely has a bright future ahead.
Ellie: Who would you say are your biggest influences musically?
Mononoke: I grew up on Fleetwood Mac so naturally Stevie Nicks is one of my biggest influences. Elliot Smith, Paul Simon and Dolly Parton are also pretty huge influences on my song-writing.
Ellie: What is it about those songwriters that inspires you?
Mononoke: They were storytellers, all in completely different ways.
Ellie: So are your songs all stories?
Mononoke: Well my song ‘Alice’ is a story within a story: a new story within an old story.
Ellie: How would you describe your sound?
Mononoke: Minimal R&B pop
Ellie: Take me through your debut single. Where did the inspiration come from? What’s it about?
Mononoke: I wrote ‘Silence For You’ about how we’re living in a time where social media is such a massive part of people’s lives. Relationships in any sense of the word are displayed only at their happiest.
Ellie: You talk about social media. How important is social media for artists now?
Mononoke: Social media has become so important for artists. I miss the days where I knew very little about an artist I was obsessing over. These days you know what the artist had for lunch last Saturday and what his sisters boyfriends cousins dog is named.
Ellie: Haha! So the really important stuff then!? Haha! Do you think it can be used as a form of creative expression though?
Mononoke: Yes it can be. I also think social media has its good points. It’s a good way to become more aware of things you might have known or been exposed to before. Like what goes on in the farming industry or political issues you might not have been so invested in before, all because your mate you met last year in Magaluf reposts the guardian on occasion.
Ellie: Haha! What is your go-to then: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
Mononoke: I’m equally as bad at all three. I am trying to get better though. I have to since it’s such an integral part of this industry. It is nice to be able to connect instantly with people who are fans of your music.
Ellie: Your Instagram (MononokeOfficial) is very ‘artsy’, and the GIFs you have put out recently are really in line with that. Was there an over-arching concept or idea behind them all?
Mononoke: I’m a big David Lynch fan when it comes to TV or film, and a big Dali fan when it comes to art. I’ve always loved anything that is aesthetically beautiful but weird or creepy at the same time. I wanted to create that sort of atmosphere for my music.
Ellie: Take me through the follow-up single to ‘Silence For You’.
Mononoke: ‘Graceland’ is the next song from the EP, I wrote half of Graceland in London and the other half in Berlin. Berlin is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. I found it really inspiring. Graceland is about being part of a relationship and having no money, closing your eyes and imagining you’re all the places you want to go.
Ellie: what is so special about Berlin? I’ve heard a lot of musicians are going there to write, why is that do you think?
Mononoke: There are a lot of great producers and writers over there. There’s also a lot to be said about taking yourself out of what you’re used to and being creatively inspired by a completely different city. I had almost entirely written Graceland in London, but couldn’t quite finish it. I went to Berlin and it took about ten seconds with the ridiculously talented Tobias Kuhn (the writer/producer I went over there to work with) to figure out what was missing.
Ellie: Where else in the world have you been to write?
Mononoke: I’ve been to New York and Los Angeles. I’ve been very fortunate with my writing trips.
Ellie: Where would you like to go to write in the future?
I would love to go to Toyko, it’s been a dream of mine since I was little. I would love to film my next video there.
Ellie: Why Toyko?
Mononoke: Japan is about as different culturally as you can get. I’m utterly fascinated by that. I love the idea of going over there on my own and having to make friends and explore on my own. That is an idea so far out of my comfort zone, but I just feel like it’s something I need to do at some point in my life.
Ellie: Coming from a city with such a huge musical heritage and thriving music scene make you work harder? Or does it just inspire you?
Mononoke: Probably a little bit of both to be honest. I’m extremely proud to come from Liverpool. Liverpool is a city where you can go to the toilets on a night out and walk out of the toilets with a new best mate. There’s no place in the world like it.
Ellie: Tell me about your E.P.
Mononoke: The entire process of making this EP has felt pretty insular, as I’ve only had a few people listening to the songs I’ve been writing. The actual release of the music feels like handing someone your diary, so having such a positive reaction has been really amazing.
Ellie: So, what’s next for Mononoke?
Mononoke: The EP is out this month and I’m just getting my live set together. I’ll also be featuring on singles for other artists, and writing for other artists too.
Ellie: Who would be your dream collaboration?
Mononoke: Frank Ocean. I love his lyrics. I just love everything he does. I can’t put it into words.
Ellie: Where can people see you perform live, or hear you online? Give all social media accounts and websites etc.
Mononoke: Spotify or Tidal are probably the best ways of listening to my music, or you can pre-order my EP on iTunes.
Ellie Phillips, Music Editor