- DozenQ – MonaLisa Twins
- DozenQ – FOG project
- DozenQ – The Como Brothers Band
- DozenQ – The Daydream Club
- DozenQ – Joe Symes and The Loving Kind
- DozenQ – Neils Children
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- DozenQ – The Intermission Project
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- Thee Ones speak to Eyeplug
The MonaLisa Twins, with the 19-year-old twin girls named Mona and Lisa being the core of the band, are one of the very few modern groups who write original songs in the 60’s Beat music tradition, reviving the genre with a fresh twist without sounding pop-ish or trivial. On their debut album “When We’re Together” (2012) they present finest Rock ‘n’ Roll and Beat music, skillfully venturing out in Psychedelic, Folk and even Latin genres, inspired by the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. Their signature features are polyphonic harmonies and a wiry, bright guitar sound. The even mix of fun and depth in their music and lyrics brings back the spirit of this time and therefore speaks to a wide range of international audiences especially on the Anglo-American music markets. They’ve played lots of live-shows already and their high quality music videos have garnered a total of nearly 2 million views and 5,000 subscribers on YouTube so far.
01 How did you get started in music?
M: Well, there was simply no way to get around music in our household. Our dad used to run a professional recording studio at home so it was natural for us to be surrounded by musicians and their gear. As not too shy and sometimes quite energetic kids we couldn’t keep our hands from grabbing all the instruments around us to find out how they might sound like. After our first kind of “experimental” Free Jazz phase we decided to learn the guitar and drums properly in 4th grade.
L: We started playing around in the studio with our dad. Those were fun times. I admit that, like probably everything else, our taste in music also developed over time. We’ve got quite some bad but also many rather cute recordings buried in the archives and it was a natural progression from then on.
02 Where did your direction come from?
L: As we grew up in this environment, it certainly was our dad who brought us close to good music. It was as if we had decided that this musician with his recording studio would make a great father and that it would be a good place to be born. It seems we had a good nose for it as we now write our songs together, share the same overall taste in music and complement each other so well in our abilities as writers and musicians. We’re a perfect team now, together with our stepmom who supports us with her promotions and marketing skills.
M: Yes, it was our love for music and the full support of our family that made us feel save enough to end school after year 10 and focus solely on our musical career. It certainly isn’t an easy goal to try and make music your full time profession, especially when you’re very young. However, we are lucky to have a stable background and a safe environment to develop our ideas.
03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?
M: About the age of thirteen we fell madly in love with the Beatles’ music. We think they simply invented everything worth mentioning regarding Pop-Music. It was like entering a whole new universe when we discovered them for the first time. They set our standard of how songwriting should be done and even if we should never get that far it’s the challenge and fun to try and get somewhat close.
L: If you listen to our tracks, you can hear a 60’s influence. People often describe our music as “beatle-esque” and compare our harmonies to Simon & Garfunkel or the Beach Boys. We’re absolutely flattered by people saying these things and though we aim to write music inspired by those kinds of artists in the first place, we wouldn’t even dare to compare ourselves with musical masters like that. Of course, we are happy if people make the connection and see the influences. Who or what do we despise, Mona?
M: Despise is quite a strong word and we think that in general every musician should do whatever s/he enjoys. However, we think that today’s “mainstream music” is worse than ever (with very few exceptions). Pop music in general has “evolved” into this fugacious, primitive, shallow genre. It tries to appear meaningful or sophisticated somehow, but most of the time it fails to do so, particularly in songwriting. There are truly amazing bands and artists out there but the majority of today’s celebrated “superstars”, or rather the people behind them, seem to put way more effort into marketing and “profile building” than in the actual music, and this we think is a sad situation.
04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?
L: We feel that back in the 60’s a great way of songwriting was started and for some reason, hardly any of today’s bands try to follow that up. That’s both, a pity and a chance for us to bring back that spirit and sound to some degree. It can lift someone’s mood without being trivial since it has equal shares of fun and depth!
05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?
M: Music can be such a deep and joyful experience that we would rather concentrate on creating excitement with the music itself than with visual effects or the like… We always try to make our performance as musically fresh and rich in variety as possible. Normally we have a decent mix of energetic, danceable songs mixed with more laid-back, sometimes romantic tunes, depending on the event, audience and venue.
L: Yes, and there is always a certain kind of exciting energy on stage! When we have fun it normally transfers quite quickly to the audience and this reaction lets us have an even better time. There is nothing more boring than stereotyped, passionless, workman-like Rock music shows. For us Rock ’n’ Roll is fun and we want our audience to have fun too.
06 How do you start writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
M: It’s different with every song to be honest. Sometimes it’s the words, like a catch phrase, sometimes a riff or a certain chord progression. However, we discovered that by starting with the melody, without looking for the chords right away, we leave ourselves much more space for creativity. If you play some basic chords and sing the first melody that comes to your mind it can sometimes be hard to break out of the average “singer/songwriter” melodies. We feel that trying to picture the song and overall sound in your head first and then looking for the best way to replicate it in reality, usually turns out better than forming the song around the chords. This makes the compositions more diverse and original.
L: And for the subjects we deal with in our songs: we always try to choose topics that we and other people can relate to, but many a time not in the most obvious way. We always try to mix ease and fun with a certain deeper and more universal meaning that you might only realize once you have listened to the songs a couple of times.
07 How did your music evolve since you first began playing?
M: We started off by playing covers in all kinds of genres. In 2007, when we were 13 years old, we played our first 2-hour live concert as a family band. We did some sort of “time travel” playing lots of tunes from the 60’s up to 2007, covering our favorites in each era and genre or simply the pieces we had learned in school.
L: Later on, we stayed with covers from the 60’s era. In 2011 we started writing our own music and released our debut album in 2012. After playing live with our band for two years our sound was more confident, tight and relaxed. We’re very sure that once we go back to the studio in the next couple of months we’ll notice that many things have changed and improved. Most notably our voices matured a lot but also our guitar skills.
08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?
L: Yes, it definitely wasn’t easy to achieve the kind of retro but still clear and modern quality sound we were aiming for on our album. We experimented with a lot of different guitars and amps and found out that we really had to use some of the old vintage gear since many of the modern instruments simply don’t have the characteristics that were typical for music back in the day.
M: And then of course there was the song writing and arrangements that sometimes had to be very different to what we felt had become common and “normal” in the last few decades. So we listened to the most successful 60’s songs over and over again. We really studied their characteristics until we understood what kind of style element or sound would create or underline which kind of feel. That helped us reproduce the sound rather than just having to copy it somehow. That is what makes the entire writing process so exciting and satisfying. Especially, when the song finally turns out the way you had hoped.
09 If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?
M: Since we’ve been covering songs and putting them on YouTube since 2007 we have already played many of our favorite songs like George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or the Beatles’ “Blackbird”. We still get many fan requests to do certain covers, like “Nowhere Man” from the Beatles, which we would definitely like to do at some point.
L: We talked about covering “Stairway To Heaven” but then we thought we’d better save that for later in time. It’s a really strong, meaningful, maybe even a bit sacred song. That is why it has been bothering us to do it. However, we also feel we need to be more mature, personally and vocally to really do it justice. We have lots of time ahead for projects like that. Now we prefer to write our own songs, which reflect our young age and the matters of our generation.
10 Where did you envisage being in five years’ time?
L: We constantly aim high, trying to improve and progress, so I’m sure a lot will have changed in five years’ time. We might be able to do a world tour by then and be living in the United States. It would be nice to live solely off the music by then, but even more importantly we want to look back at one or two songs that could possibly stand the test of time.
M: Or we might be living on another planet, after some aliens invade planet Earth and abduct us to their home planet to play them the “Real Stuff”!
11 Who would you most like to record with?
L: That’s an easy question! Put us in a time machine and let us sing a song with the Beatles! Or if they are too busy making girls faint all over the world, we’re also fine with performing a tune with Chuck Berry or one of the early beat groups like The Kinks, The Easy Beats or The Hollies!
M: It would be Sir Paul McCartney. He still has more energy and power on stage than some 40 year olds. There is clearly no reason why we couldn’t make a record together, right?
12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?
M: LOTS and LOTS of music videos from the last year’s album and as soon as we’re done with that, new songs and some proper touring preferably in either the UK or the States, we’ll see about that in the next couple of months.
L: But first we can’t wait to go back to the studio in the fall and put our main focus on writing new songs. We’ve got so many ideas in our heads and we’re looking forward to see them come to life.
MonaLisa Twins photo material (© MonaLisa Twins)
Link to buy our music: monalisa-twins.com/cd-albums