»My lyrics make me less vulnerable« – Moniquemai sound so.


Monique Mai Borgstrøm (23) ist ein halbes Jahr mit einem Zirkus durch Dänemark gereist. Seither macht sie wieder Musik, als Moniquemai. Solo singt sie auf Dänisch und mit ihrer Band auf Englisch. Vor kurzem hat sie sich eine Wohnung in Kopenhagen zugelegt, unweit vom Café Kaffeplantagen, in dem wir uns Ende Mai getroffen haben. Sie saß mir mit roten Gummistiefeln gegenüber – und mit einer Leidenschaft für die Musik und das Schreiben, über die ich mich nur zu gern mit ihr unterhalten habe.

schreibstation: Why do you make music?

Monique: Music came very natural to me. I remember my mom asked me when I became 8 years old: What do you want for your birthday? And I said: Well, I want this record. It was some guy from a TV show. And she said: I don´t know it, can you sing for me? And then it just started. She always said: Oh, can you sing for me, I love that! I think that was the time I began to sing. And the lyrics came to me, when I was a bit older. I got a guitar from my dad and then I told myself how to play it and well, I played like hell for one year. And then I stopped for many many years, but luckily the inspiration came back to me, while I was traveling with a circus some time ago.

schreibstation: How does your songwriting happen?

Monique: I think there are a lot of ways to write a song. You can sit down for hours and think about it and get a great song out of it. But the best songs I´ve ever written were the ones, my subconscious wrote. I didn´t really know, what I was doing. It just came out. It´s like a flow – I can relate it to meditation, running or riding my motorbike – where I do something without really thinking about it; when I play the guitar and yell something and recognize: Oh, that´s great! Then I write it down and start yelling again and write it down again…I always start playing my guitar and some melody comes out and some Bla Bla Bla (lacht) and then there is this one word or phrase, I catch in the air and create a whole song with. As I´m also writing poems, I have some lyrics lying around and sometimes I put them into a song, by creating a melody around the poem. When I play with my band, we are creating a whole universe of music together. Mostly we start with some jam and create a playground for the lyrics and the melody. It´s like one of us just starts a train and the other ones jump on board and at the end of the line, you´ll have a song. It´s an amazing experience for me to find a bunch of people to create this musical universe, that neither of us could create without the others. That´s the message of music for me. The songs I gave to you are both made with the band in this kind of process.

schreibstation: As you also use poems for your lyrics do you think they need to rhyme?

Monique: Well maybe not necessarily. But I think it makes some melody in itself, to have a rhyme. And for me writing is often a thing about making rhythm out of words. But when the rhythm of the words sounds like music, you might not need the rhyme. But I think that´s more difficult. And it could be provocative for the ear in some way, you would probably have to listen to the song a couple of times to like it. But I haven´t done this before. I should try it!

schreibstation: What makes great lyrics to you?

Monique: In my opinion, you really need to have honesty, if you want to catch the audience with your lyrics. If you do something like: Heartbreak…earthquake (singt), you´ll not catch their attention, only maybe stress their nerves (lacht). Honesty is so important. I love it, when lyrics tell me something I already know, but I didn´t know, that I knew it. When they put something very simple out in space, make it very abstract and then wrap it up in an understandable, deeper way. When you hear a song and all the feelings and meanings of its story comes out as a punchline – right into your stomach and it hurts; and we all feel that. Then it´s at good song!

schreibstation: But isn´t it difficult for you »to tell the world« about your feelings?

Monique: It was at the start. But actually I feel very lucky. Music makes it so much easier for me to say all the things, I cannot say in real life. I wouldn´t be able to tell all this thoughts or ask all this questions without my music. I mean, I´m writing songs about the world is going under (lacht), but I´m not afraid anymore. To paint the pictures of all these issues is the greatest gift for me in the process of making music. In a way, it´s like a therapy – and in the end, the vulnerability of my lyrics make me less vulnerable.

schreibstation: Does literature influence your writing?

Monique: Yes, of course. You know, I´m inspired by everything I do or see and I shop a lot of books. Actually I´m reading a biography from a Danish musician, Anne Linnet. She´s one of the biggest female singer-songwriters in Denmark. I really like her attitude – it seems that she doesn´t take everything too serious. And for sure I find inspiration for my life in literature. And if I find inspiration for my way of living in literature, it naturally flows into my music.

schreibstation: What are the stories behind All our babies and Moon and stars?

Monique: Moon and stars is a lovely song, I see stars and I dance between trees while I´m playing it. (lacht) But in this case, the melody is more important than the lyrics. I mean if you sit down and analyze the lyrics, you would get something out of it. But this is an example of creating a universe of a song especially with its melody. It throws me into this feeling: being in the woods in the moonlight in some tropical night, where the stars shine to the happiness of a summer love. But then I twist this universe of complete happiness by reminding, that it always ends at some point. All our babies is more personal to me. It deals with the feeling of being unfulfilled and captured in a childish mindset. And also with the feeling, when you grow up and learn how to fall in love and also how to fell out of love. Being a child is pretty hard, when you have to be an adult. But I also want to celebrate this ability to be as pure as a child; I want to celebrate the child in me, even if sometimes it makes it harder for me to love or to be loved.

schreibstation: Do you have favorite lines in the songs?

Monique: Well, in All our babies it´s definitely the punchline: How can I be with somebody else, when I can´t even be by myself. And in Moon and stars I like the twist: But I know, it´s gonna rain and snow.

All our babies und Moon and stars – reinhören und rauslesen.

Oh those eyes are beautiful and
I can’t stand to let it show
And as you walk away I
Know I have to let it go
Cause I may look as an adult now
But I’m still a little child
So just one word from you and
My whole fantasy runs wild
Where all our babies will be
As beautiful as you and me
But how can I be with somebody else
When I can’t even be by myself
You were saying to me darling
Come on out here now to play
But I’ve got to many words for you
That I am not allowed to say
Cause all our children are running around here
In my fantasy of love
So be careful of me
Oh be careful of my heart
Summer comes but then it runs away
I wish that the sun was here to stay
But I know
It’s gonna rain and snow
And love was made
But then it broke my heart
Winter’s coming back to tear apart
What I know
It’s gonna rain and snow
We were dancing in the moon and stars
Writing songs of all the broken hearts
We were dancing in the moon and stars
Love is easy when the sky is blue
I will always be right here for you
Some say
Before they run away
And raindrops starts to fall and so do I
I will never ever say goodbye
You said
But I did it instead
We were dancing in the moon and stars
Writing songs of all the broken hearts
We were dancing in the moon and stars
Summer comes but then it runs away
I wish that the sun was here to stay
But I know
It’s gonna rain and snow
And love was made but then it broke my heart
Winter’s coming back to tear apart
What I know
It’s gonna rain and snow
We were dancing in the moon and stars
Writing songs of all the broken hearts
We were dancing in the moon and stars

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