Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Mona Najib! This Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based artist brings a true nomadic perspective to her powerful global sound with her hit single “Limbo“. Check out our exclusive Q&A to hear about her journey, what’s next, and why speed bumps are your next loop’s BFF!
1) Tell us about how you got started in music?
I was living a pretty different life back in Sweden. I had quit soccer after playing for 14 years and was working as a teacher. Music had always been a passion of mine but I didn’t really know how or where to begin. A friend of mine suggested the Los Angeles College of Music in California so I applied, was accepted and that’s when I really started pursuing my dream in music.
2) What influences do you draw on when you create music?
My influences comes from all over. I enjoy exploring different genres as they always lead to new discoveries. Recently I’ve listened a lot to Solange and RY X. My parents are Moroccan so I was exposed to a lot of North African music as a child, which probably explains my love for heavily groove based music. Lastly, and not too surprisingly, I draw inspiration from everyday life. Not only the emotions and experiences that come with it but also random sounds and noises I pick up from here and there. To give an example, I once created a loop out of the sound my car made going over a speed bump.
3) What is the music scene like in your hometown of Uppsala, Sweden?
We have a few live venues but it’s nothing compared to the scene in Los Angeles. Most artists I know who start out in Uppsala usually end up in Stockholm, where there is a more vibrant music scene.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
I’ll have to say Michael Jackson. He is a legend, his music is timeless and it would be such an amazing learning experience to simply be in his presence.
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
”Dancing Queen” by ABBA. I love ABBA.
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Don’t stop. If music is truly what you want to do then don’t stop. Even when it’s feels like nothing is happening, even when it feels impossible. They’re just feelings and they’ll pass. The love for music always wins.
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I’d like to see what would happen if mainstream radio pushed the boundaries more with their music selection. There are so many groundbreaking artists out there and by playing their music I think it would create a more diverse and eclectic music taste in the general population.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
Becoming a part of a community will really serve you as an artist. Playing shows will create exposure and is great for networking purposes. Then of course you have all the online marketing sites you can use to create a buzz, WorldArts being one of them. As an independent artist, I’m learning as I go but I do also try to educate myself as much and as often as I can.
9) Tell us about your new single “Limbo” and the inspiration behind it?
I wrote ”Limbo” on the floor of my parents guest room in Uppsala. It was during a very frustrating time as I was awaiting the approval for a U.S. visa. Around the same time a relationship ended which heavily influenced the song. ”Limbo” basically speaks of feelings of uncertainty as well as accepting events that are out of our control.
10) What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks/in the studio etc.)?
I’m releasing a new single called Howlin’ next month. It’s a song I co-wrote with Sandro Cavazza, a good friend and an extremely talented artist. I’m also working on a project with Jason Goldman, who co-produced Michael Bublé’s latest album. The main goal for me this year is to perform live. I’ve spent a lot of time working on new music so I’m very much looking forward to getting back out there!
Download “Limbo” on iTunes today!
Cover Photo: Eric Wallace Photo Editing: Debbie Geltner