The voice of late nights, unearthed treasure chests and the texture of sighs, Mr Little Jeans is back with her intimate lyrics and ethereal voice. Two years since her first album, Pocketknife, Monica Birkenes released her new EP, Fevers Oct. 21.
Birkenes is known for being mysterious. Her social media presence is very low-key and the interviews that show up on Google are from two to three years ago. She mumbles a bit in her songs, causing fans to weave their own lyrics to them, making her more tangible.
I had the opportunity to talk to Birkenes before the launch on her tour, whose first show is at U Street Music Hall in Washington D.C. Mentions of her second album were brought up, as well as her last relationship and how it framed a few of her songs and what changes have happened in the past two years, such as switching labels.
(No worries hardcore Mr Little Jeans fans, I asked about the date for the second album. You’ll have to read to find out … )
Karla: Your tour officially starts next week on Nov. 1 at U Street Music Hall in Washington D.C. and in Las Vegas on Dec. 9. What are you excited for fans to see this time around?
Monica: I have three new songs that I haven’t played before–“Stitches,” “Fool 4 You” and “Fevers”. So, that’s exciting and I’ve re-done the set a little bit.
K: In your first album, Pocketknife, the object is kind of like a good luck charm for you. Is there another prominent object or theme in the Fevers EP?
M: No, there’s no object with this one. I feel like Fevers … Not melancholy, that’s not the right word but it’s just maybe a little darker, temporarily, you know.
K: Is there a reason why it’s darker?
M: I think just like life in general is what made it darker. I went through a breakup and I moved labels. I don’t know, it was a lot of changes in my life, so I think that’s probably reflected in the music a little bit.
K: Speaking on those changes, how was it working with producer Tim Anderson and the Nettwerk label for this EP?
M: Tim, we’re friends and we’ve known each other for a long time at this point. It feels like home to me, it’s so familiar. I just started writing the second album now. With Nettwerk, it’s been a recent thing–so far, so good. Yeah, we will see, everything’s really good right now.
K: You mentioned, home and you’ve lived in Los Angeles for some time now. Has it helped you grow as an artist?
M: I love it. Everyone is here–creatively, it’s perfect because it’s really inspiring. You feel like everything’s possible for everyone here and it’s all happening here. I love L.A. I like sunsets, the mountains …
K: Is there any message or feeling that you would like listeners to take away from Fevers?
M: Not really. I want people to take out of it what they want, you know. Feel free to makeup your own lyrics. I think because I tend to mumble, people just make up the lyrics.
K: Is there a lyric on the EP that is really important to you?
M: There are a lot of lyrics that are important to me. I guess sort of the beginning of Fevers … “you’ll never bridge a sea with fire in the air / you’ll never heal a wound ripping another tear.” I guess it’s sort of about having to let things go, you can’t heal if you’re still upset about things, you can’t heal if you’re still angry. Just letting things go and trying to be more at peace. I think that’s important. “Fool 4 You” is about my ex boyfriend and part of the chorus is “let me see our bedroom lights from the street so I can breathe” is the last line. That’s been … realized for me? So, that kind of feels like an important line to me, personally.
K: You mentioned how Fevers explores everything you’ve gone through–do you think that your upcoming album will end how you feel now? Do you think it will come full circle?
M: Yeah, for sure. I feel very much at peace right now but it’s going to go through the motions and the emotions because you know, there’s still things to write about. So the first song is about the past but it will definitely come full circle.
K: It sounds like it’s a cathartic experience.
M: It definitely has been. It feels really rewarding to be writing when there’s things you feel like you need to process, things you need to sort of get out of your system.
K: Is there a certain date or time period where your second album will be released?
M: No there isn’t, I’m just trying to go through it as quickly as possible. I don’t want to go on for too long because I want to sort of capture the moment in time and sort of finish it and figure it out and move on. But, you know these things tend to go on longer than what I hoped for. The first album was four years so this one is not going to take four years, so that’s good. I guess ideally it will be half a year, realistically, possibly a year.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mr Little Jean’s Facebook page.
Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.