Initially, when we first heard ‘Money Honey (Count Me In)’, we weren’t surprised by the enticing material of it, after all it was helmed by the EDM leading hit-maker in our music scene right now, Dipha Barus. But, we can’t help but wonder about the nonchalant voice featured in the track. It was a refreshing juxtaposition to see this song about hustling being sung in a composed vocal that is far from being a try-hard, instead, in lack of a better term, is so effortlessly cool. The girl behind the voice happens to be a film-graduate, Monica Karina, who got her start by showcasing her talent without knowing it and with a sprinkle of luck, she was discovered. Looking up to the likes of Kehlani, Sabrina Claudio and Kali Uchis, this 23-year-old might be the next Alt R&B figure we’ve been waiting for. And it looks like her charm is working, her first single with Dipha Barus already had 1.2 million streams to date on Spotify after its release just a couple months ago. So, we hung out with the newcomer and self-proclaimed ‘awkward individual’ to talk about this exciting phase in her life as she’s figuring out the ways to express herself.

Text by Lala Claudia. Photographs by Syifa Fachrunissa (@)

For her, it all started with a couple of Insta-stories..

My friend, Cella [re: beauty vlogger, @Cindercella], posted a couple of Insta-stories of her singing, I was also singing in the background, and I didn’t even know she was recording! Apparently Dipha Barus noticed and DM’ed Cella, he was like, “That girl sounds kind of weird, who is she?” And, being the kind friend that she is, Cella told Dipha about me and that started it all.

She and Dipha Barus had an instant chemistry!   

Well, my first thought when Dipha contacted me was, “Is this a scam account?” [laughs]. He was asking for my demo or samples and I got none, I have no singing portfolio whatsoever! So what I did, was sending him eight Insta-stories of me singing. It was a series of Insta-stories showing my ceiling with my voice in the background, kind of like those cover videos where people are too shy to sing in front of the camera [chuckles]. Then that led to a meeting, and it went well, and we just worked on the single ‘Money Honey (Count Me In)’.

The single ‘Money Honey (Count Me In)’ was inspired by a relatable circumstance..

It’s about questioning yourself, whether the things you do is because you love doing it or you’re just stuck in a routine. Because really, we often find ourselves in the same situation.

She has an interesting way in describing her music, and we learned that she’s super goofy!

My sound is very weird [laugh]. If it was a color I’d say it’s indigo, like between purple and blue. Growing up people always told me that I sounded like a boy, but now I see it as an advantage [wink]. I’m so awkward can’t you tell?

A certified artsy-girl and film graduate, her project aside from singing involves making commercials and music videos as a Director of Photography! One of her notable works was the ‘See You Never” MV for 88 Rising’s R&B singer, NIKI a.k.a Nicole Zefanya.

Haha, this is so cliché and basic, but the first creative thing I ever fell in love with was photography. And I love doodling and drawing in general. I decided to study film in college because it was calling my name and I fell for it even more.

Being the creative chameleon that she is, she tried to express herself in various ways..

There’s of course doubts and questions in my head regarding which path it is I want to focus on, but I’d like to think about it this way, if I have the opportunity to explore stuff and do the things that I love, I’m going to do it anyway and hopefully succeed in doing it.

More than anything, she wants individuality to flourish in the creative industry here..

I just want to see more identity! I want people to not just fall into what’s trending right now. Just be you, do whatever you want, be different and don’t be ashamed of it!

We think we’ll be seeing a lot more from Monica in the future. And guess what? She teased us coyly about her next exciting project with Dipha Barus!

What’s next for me? I don’t know, probably a single, probably an album, wink, wink.

Read more articles at 247 COTTONINK Magazine.

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