Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Monea attended Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School (CAPA) from 6-12 grade. She was a vocal major but wasn’t proactive when it came to creating music.
“I was working on the skill of singing,” she says. “But not songwriting and recording and stuff like that.”
Monea then went to The University of the Arts (UARTS) in Philadelphia for her freshman year of college before transferring to Point Park University where she majors in Sports, Art, Entertainment, and Music management. It was during her short time at UARTS that she began to dabble in songwriting and release her first singles.
“Being around artists 24/7 propelled me,” says Monea. She was also minoring in music business technology, which allowed her to record music and take songwriting classes. “Learning more about it allowed me to get into a creative space. Plus, all my friends [sang].”
Thus, the pulsating track “Fiji Water” and the velvety “Fix It” were born. “I didn’t even know I wanted to do an album at first,” says Monea. But when the idea came about, she made sure those initial tracks were a part of Flowers and Dopamine.
“Songwriting for me is healing,” she says. “There was no force creating this album. I wanted it to be very much me and very genuine to my personality. I hope people hear the effort whenever they listen.”
Monea describes her personality as light. She prefers a field of flowers to drama, and upholds a “go with the flow” attitude. An example of this is the final track on Flowers and Dopamine, “It Is What It Is.”
When Monea went into the studio to create and record a song as part of her Pioneer Records Star contract and was asked what she wanted the song to be about, she simply said, “It is what it is.”
As a Pioneer Star, Monea and Khouri had the opportunity to record a song with Jesse Naus, owner and engineer at Red Caiman Studios. But because there were two of them, studio time was cut in half to accommodate both.
With coronavirus closures, Monea felt she had to rush somewhat to get “It Is What It Is” finished. “In other situations, I probably would have rewritten some parts, but I think it turned out well.”
Shortly after learning she would be a Pioneer Star, Monea applied for a grant from Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, a joint program of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. She knew to get the production quality that she wanted for an album she would need money to do so, and in Dec. 2019, Monea was awarded $15,000 to support the creation and promotion of her debut album.
“That’s when I decided to write more actively,” says Monea. “As I was experiencing life, the songs just kind of came to me.”
Monea wishes to connect with anyone who relates to her music, as songs cover relatable topics like in tracks “One of Those Days,” “Love Yourself,” and “Fuck You Very Much.”
“There’s always someone who feels the same way you do,” says Monea. “All I know is that when a person realizes that they aren’t alone, it makes a world of difference. This is why I stuff my songs with emotion and make sure the sound is always a vibe.”
Listen to Flowers and Dopamine on Spotify