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NAJM Interviews Mon a Q Unleashed!

Stay In Love With

Mon A Q

Mon a Q Unleashed!
NAJM Dance Culture
Mon a Q exploded onto the scene with her hit "Stay In Love" (#21 on NAJM's Top 100 Dance Tracks of the past decade). Mon a Q has now hooked up with a new production team to create her new album entitled "Mon A Q Unleashed" which features the hit single "I Want You For Myself" as written and produced by the Berman Brothers. Mon A Q recently chatted with NAJM about her latest project and humble beginnings...
NAJM:  How did your name Mon A Q come about?  

 

Mon a Q live in Fort Lauderdale

MONAQ:  Mon A Q is the ghetto pronunciation for Monique. Before I started singing dance music I worked as a jazz/R&B singer. Some of the clubs that I worked in were at the bottom. Some of those old guys had never seen the word Monique, so when I would give them a business card they would just sound the word out as Mon A Q.
NAJM:  I think you know about the NAJM site, you’ve been to it already?
MONAQ:  I get your emails every time it’s updated. We’re in the process of doing bookings by just going by your listings. I’ve printed every page in there is seems like and I’ve turned a lot of other people on to it as well.
NAJM:  So you find it pretty informative?
MONAQ:  Yes, very. I like looking at the ratings – I know you can’t sample everyone’s music, but I like listening, because I want to know what I am up against.
NAJM:  “Stay in Love” was a huge hit for you a couple of years ago, and it made our Top 100 of the Last Decade at #21. Tell us a bit about how that track came about and how you entered the dance scene?
MONAQ:  I was working in Tampa singing jazz and R&B, and some Greek guys would frequent this place. They told me about a project they had written and they thought my voice would be great, so they hired me. It took 3 months to record 12 songs. They had a connection in Greece, with Sony Records. They sent the finished product over and the guy who heard it said there was way too much of a Greek twist to it and as far as their attempts at R&B, it just wasn’t.
NAJM:  It’s hard to make the connection to material you’re not into.
MONAQ:  Yes, and it’s obvious to people who like music that the connection is not there. Every time I would try to really put myself into something, they would stop me and say, “no, this is how we want you to sing it,” so I was really confined.
NAJM: Was “Stay In Love” one of the songs you recorded?
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Mon A Q on Stay in Love...

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MONAQ: “Stay in Love” was originally an attempt at an R&B ballad. They decided to re-work that one first. They got a producer who was a keyboard salesperson from one of the local music stores. He came up with some different music that was 130 BPM and stuck a few of my vocals back in. In order to make them fit, I had to re-sing them at that tempo. They told me to just do some ad-libbing.
NAJM: So you basically had to make up “Stay In Love” as you went along?
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) MONAQ: When you are like a singer like I am and someone requests a song, I will make up the words if I don’t know all of them, so that’s what I did. For “Stay in Love” I just ranted and raved about whatever. It turned out that the finished product was just stuff I made up.
NAJM:  Did any of the other material come to fruition other than “Stay in Love?”
MONAQ:  No. They entered me at the Winter Music Conference and I showcased the song.
NAJM:  Was this before or after “Stay in Love” came out that you severed the ties with these guys?
MONAQ:  I severed the ties after the song came out. I totally did not understand the industry. It wasn’t my project; it was a work for hire.
NAJM:  The single took off so big, were you prepared as a new artist for the success?
MONAQ:  No, not at all. Personally, professionally and physically I wasn’t prepared for it. I had no idea what I was up against. Dance wasn’t my arena, but I am a performer.
NAJM:  So in some ways it was sort of like the whole Martha Wash thing, with C & C and Black Box.
MONAQ:  It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I didn’t want anything to do with them, and then the song just kept getting bigger and bigger. I ended up doing every gay pride festival in every major city in the State of Florida. That was my door. That was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. When I performed on the gay scene they loved me. I was like, okay, I’m in this and now I am going to take this and do something else with it.
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Mon A Q's Start

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MONAQ:  I’m following in the footsteps of a lot of people who started in the gay circuit first. The gay population is very accepting of whatever you are as long as you are happy with it. That made it very easy for me to get on stage and rock the club.
NAJM:  Do you consider yourself to be a dance artist?
MONAQ:  I have labeled myself as soulful house artist. I am a black girl who was raised in church, and my father is a minister. I have been singing in front of people all of my life.
NAJM:  You also perform in jazz clubs. How do you think that experience relates to your performances in dance clubs?
MONAQ:  Dance music, is very different from jazz. With jazz, you have chords that you have to hit, and with dance music, it’s all about a party. I’m doing what I want for a living. I like dance music. I don’t have to work as long. The pay and benefits are much better.
NAJM:  And with a club performance, you work live to tape.
MONAQ:  Right. It’s very different. Both can be really rewarding. I’ve done jazz for so long, I was with my own manager, and then once “Stay in Love” came along, my career was split down the middle. I have two managers working, one booking me for jazz and one booking me for dance and after three years, I had to choose just one.
NAJM:  You’re based in Tampa, Florida. Some people would say that Tampa isn’t exactly a dance Mecca – like Miami of New York. How did you come to be in Florida and how has that affected you breaking into the dance music scene?
MONAQ:  I have a son who lives here with his father. I am a mother first, that’s why I’m in Tampa. As far as living here career-wise, I’ve lived all over the world. A city is a city. I don’t want all that craziness when I come home. I love not living in a real fast paced city. It’s very comfortable for me here.
NAJM:  Last year we interviewed Michelle Crispin who is also from Florida originally. She basically said that it doesn’t matter where you make the music, so long as you work it in the metropolitan areas with your connections.
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Be On Top of Your Game...

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MONAQ:  You need to be on top of your game, you need to know it. I buy a lot of music, I read the DJ magazines and I go to clubs. Before “Stay in Love” I’d never heard a lot of dance stuff so I went out and bought what I could, studied styles, and decided that I didn’t need to mimic anyone.
NAJM:  How important has your positive attitude been for your career?
MONAQ:  It’s been everything. I found my comfort zone through “Stay In Love” and it’s become so special to me to make people feel that it’s not important what you do; it’s what you choose to do. There are so many lost people out there. I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do. A void in my life was filled because of “Stay In Love”. I hold people very special. I was welcomed with so many open arms.
NAJM:  You can’t fight fate.
MONAQ:  I cherish it. I don’t put myself on a pedestal. I am honored every time someone wants me to come back and do a club. Everybody has a calling; you can be just a person, go to the clubs, and get on stage. When it’s done, I’m in the middle of the dance floor dancing with whoever is out there.
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Working with the Berman Brothers...

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NAJM:  Tell us about your new project. The new single is out; how you came to work with the very successful Berman Brothers (Amber, Real Mc Coy)?
MONAQ:  I figured that if I was going to do this again I wanted every resource that I could have to be guaranteed that I would have a marketable song. I had never reconciled my differences with the guy that produced “Stay in Love”. I met my business partner, who is a self-made millionaire. He was out in the clubs and he knew what worked and what didn’t. He was looking to develop a Rave act. He wanted to be the executive producer of the project, but he also wanted to help me write the songs.
NAJM: So you began to write material together?
MONAQ: In the basement of his Ranch he had a little set-up. Everything just fell in place. He turned out to the brother that I never had. One thing led to another and we wrote three of the songs that are on the CD. He played the music and I did the lyrics. Everything was just done on a feeling. Then we contacted the Berman Brothers and asked them to write and produce a song. We flew up to New York in March to record it. We had not even heard it prior to going up, we had no lyrics, we had nothing.
NAJM:  So they did everything, A – Z?  You just went up there and sang?
MONAQ:  I flew up on Friday, met with them and recorded the song on Saturday. Sunday I went back to lay the harmony track and by Sunday night we were back in Tampa.
NAJM: And the end result is “I Want You For Myself”?
MONAQ: The catchy line, is “everybody wants somebody for themselves forever” We wanted to stick to the theme of love since, “Stay in Love” worked so well for us. It’s unbelievable how it’s going.
NAJM: What about remixes?
MONAQ: Ford (Robin Fox, I See Stars Producer) actually did our most requested house mix.
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Investing in her Future...

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NAJM:  Do you think that “I Want You for Myself” is a good product for your investment?
MONAQ:  I think I got a great product for my investment because I got a name, and that’s just as important as the song.
NAJM:  Absolutely.
MONAQ:  That gets attention. There was so much chaos with the company that put out “Stay in Love”. I have to come back strong.
NAJM:  When does it come out and what are your expectations for the new project?
MONAQ:  For Florida, the song is already out – worldwide, it should be out by Christmas.
NAJM:  Who is your distributor?
MONAQ:  Hot Music out of Miami is the primary distributor but we are also distributed by Sony.
NAJM:  Congratulations, good for you!
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Mon A Q Unleashed!

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MONAQ:  The CD album has 15 tracks and is called Mon A Q Unleashed, because I have had so many things, issues and people dabbling into what I should do. I need to have complete creative control and only what I think is going to work is going to go on this CD.
NAJM:  Are you touring?
MONAQ:  Yes, we’re making a big effort to promote this in the State of Florida first because that’s where everyone knows me.  We just did a Studio 54 party at Level a couple of weeks ago and there were like 5400 people there. I am also performing at Level for New Years eve.
NAJM:  Wow! What’s the next single off the album?
MONAQ:  The next single is called “Feel the Rhythm” and it’s already out. I co-wrote it with one of the writers of “Stay in Love”. We licensed “Feel The Rhythm” to a distribution company in Orlando who put it on their compilation, so it’s out already.
NAJM:  Were all the songs on Mon A Q Unleashed written by you?
MONAQ:  I co-wrote all of them except, “I Want You for Myself” which I personally wrote the bridge. I’ve got a couple of mixes, including the original “Stay in Love” and a break beat mix – “Feel the Rhythm” there’s a tribal and trance mix. I even have two jazz songs right in the middle and there’s even a hip-hop song. The first song is called “What’s my Name” I wrote it because everyone pronounces my name wrong. That’s also the entrance for the show, the dancers dance, and then I come out. Anyone into dance music will love this CD!
NAJM:  Where do you go from here?
MONAQ:  We’re trying to line something up with me Robin Fox and Fiore. If Ford gets it going it might work.
NAJM:  The new single is excellent; Ford’s mix is tremendous! I’m sure it will have a stellar run!
MONAQ:  It’s all good. Your attitude is right. The site is great keep it up!
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Check out NAJM's "I Want Your For Myself" Review

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Check Out Mon A Q's LIVE Performance Review

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