photo by James Adams (IG: jamesada.ms)
Multidisciplinary artist Monica Blaire recently released a new album How to Dress Well in the Dark under new alias mBtheLight via Mahogani Music. The album features tracks from Nick Speed and Andrés.
How to Dress Well in the Dark is playful and experiential while remaining grounded in R&B, jazz, and electronica. The project is self aware and makes space for levity while still featuring serious instrumentation and songwriting. Twelve sound sketches span from Blaire’s time living in Atlanta, to “drunken sessions at Amp’s studio” recording songs.
Thankfully, I got to talk to Blaire a bit about the album. And because I admittedly struggled a bit to put this into words that would sound flowery and compelling, I felt that letting her answers ring out as they were would be more communicative than any narrative I could draft up. And so thats what follow:
For best experience, scroll down. Like all the way down. Click on to the project. Press play. Then read.
So how did you link up with Mahogani Music?
I was living in Atlanta. Dez Andres reached out about working on something and it was on my radar. I came home for another project and thought I was gonna be home for 5 months. 3 years later I’m still here. We were essentially going over Amps house to perform and I just felt I needed to do a whole project right now. They understood and we did it in 2 weeks in drunken takes. That was at the top of 2019. And now y'all are hearing it in 2022.
It feels as though identity is a consistent theme throughout. Or the determination of such. What’s the importance of identity for you?
See these are the questions!
I’m a lot of different shit. People around me aren’t always comfy with that. Detroit is a very conservative place. But I’m going to be and see if it works out. That’s where my creativity comes from. I talk to everybody. It’s all valid…all experiences. All the rest of that shit doesn't matter.
Per the press release, this is the first project that you have produced yourself? What did sound selection look like for you? And what were you curious about?
Definitely in tangent with Dewitt. Kenny had beats and within the like 7 beats I had 5 songs. The way Detroit hits you is just so different.
As for how it feels in this context, mindframe? As for me, what would it feel like if I did this or did that. A Lot of it is not doubting my ideas. Because our self talk can be challenging so it isn’t coming from that. I can visit that town and I don’t have a house there. I bike around alot and get whats given to me from those experiences.
What does songwriting look like for you now?Are there things to account for like performance, the receiving end?
I'm always hitting the tumble on the dryer. It ain't done yet! It’s not cooked. If what I’m doing is not working, let's do the exact opposite. And then split the difference. Only rule; everything else is just a variable. Follow this rule until I understand the next one.
So there’s this funny interlude “Fuckthewrongpeople '' where you kinda just take a break to joke about messing with some of the wrong people– I’m guessing its concert audio. What’s the importance of levity and grace we give to ourselves? How do you give yourself that grace?
See but people don't process it as grace. I say really fucked up things to people that I care about. They’re just spot on for me. I should be able to share with people that have love for me. They do what works for them. I don't allow people that ask questions about who I am. I work quickly but spend a lot of time on the details.
What are things in the surrounding world that make their way into your creativity
Water, Conflict, Deep deep deep deep love, Freedom, Efficiency & Process.
It's a lot to process. I've been biking around the city. Its a human one. That's what they're tryna get us to ignore.
What would you say to an artist starting out with sounds, production, and understanding their identity?
I wouldn't say anything! Nobody can teach you about your journey but you. Other people can jam, Some can not. It's always gonna be the experience I intake from myself. To combine creativity and to obliterate a process of thinking are two different things.It can make you trash to a person but I wanna be able to hear myself.
This happens when we question each other less. The idea that black people have to normalize having joy. Having campaigns to normalize joy. Hard & Fast Boundary for me becauseI'm my own best friend. You can give more when you know what it means for you to happy!
Check out How to Dress Well in the Dark on Bandcamp