With festival season making a comeback, we’re highlighting a group of artists creating their own distinct path in the music industry.
Meet MONOGEM, a.k.a. Jen Hirsh, a critically acclaimed alt-R&B artist who’s got some serious range; vocally, culturally, and musically. We chatted with her about her latest release, how becoming a mom has changed her work, and what she’s got coming up.
Raised in a diverse suburb of LA, Jen was inundated with music from an early age. While she’s the only musician in her family, her music-loving parents made sure there was never a shortage of tunes to introduce her to. “I’ve been singing literally since I could speak. I think my parents recognized I was passionate about it when I was about 5 and I’ve been in voice lessons ever since.”
Jen was surrounded by Latin music growing up, especially when her grandmother lived with her family when she was young. And while early exposure to music so closely tied to her heritage made an enormous impact on who she is as an artist, it wasn’t until her latest release, ‘Gardenia,’ that she was ready to connect her career to her culture.
‘Gardenia,’ named after her grandmother’s favorite flower, is a dreamy, synth-laden record that’s both infectiously dancy and deeply personal. The perfect amalgamation of electro-pop, soul, and jazz, ‘Gardenia’ is a look into MONOGEM’s journey as she connects her past to her present; embracing her Mexican-American heritage as a woman and as a mother.
You recently released your first bilingual album. What has it meant to you to put songs in Spanish out into the world?
I am thrilled that ‘Gardenia’ is out in the world and has been so well-received. Singing in Spanish has been extremely cathartic for me - it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and have felt super insecure about my whole life. So, the fact that listeners have welcomed this new era of mine with open arms, feels like I am in the right place doing exactly what I should be doing.
I needed to find the right creative team to help me feel comfortable enough to try something new. I really have to credit the producers of the album, Kyle Patrick and Will Snyder, for giving me a safe space to feel vulnerable, but also pushing me to go there and find this new voice.
How has becoming a mother impacted your music?
So far, it’s hard to tell. After releasing an album during a pandemic and not having the opportunity to tour yet, it feels like I am still in a holding pattern, but I am totally okay with it. I am enjoying my son and stepping into Motherhood - I’m starting to get creative again and excited to see what flows. Everything happens in waves and phases and I feel totally present in this one.
Who inspires you?
I recently started an interview series/podcast (coming soon) where I have uncensored conversations with other mothers in the music industry. I’ve only done a few interviews, but they have given me so much energy and inspiration I didn’t even know was possible!
Anything exciting on the horizon?
Yes! Currently working on a Gardenia: Reimagined EP with some remixes and collabs that I cannot wait to share. Stay tuned.
How would you describe your personal style?
Loungewear-Chic! After the pandemic, I can’t be bothered to be uncomfortable in my clothes anymore. I seemingly always find a way to make cozy clothes look put-together with the right accessories.