‘The Way People Treat Women Is Still Really, Really Fucked Up’. Monica From PHOX Fills Us In On Being A Girl In Music

Oh, all the time while suffering from a case of the meat sweats. What a trooper.


by Jess Commons |
Published on

Meet Monica Martin, the outspoken lead singer of a band about to nestle their way on to your Spotify playlist, to sit nicely alongside Bon Iver and Dirty Projectors. Hailing from Wisconsin (that’s way north in the midwest of America, btw), the band consists of Monica, and five guys (Jason, Davey, Matteo, Zach and Matthew) whom she grew up with.

Since the band released their Confetti EP back in 2013, they’ve supported the likes of Laura Mvula, The Lumineers, recorded at Bon Iver’s studio and played to huge acclaim at SXSW and Lollapalooza. The band released their self-titled debut album in the States earlier this year and over here, just last week. So far people are seriously digging it with* The Four Oh Five* saying: ‘This sense of uncertainty is powerful, and what makes Phox one of the most honest and refreshing albums in recent years.’

We caught up with lead singer Monica to talk the meat sweats and (sigh) the trials and tribulations of being a woman in music.

** So who or what, are Phox then Monica?**

I’m really bad at genre names, I guess we’re folk pop, jazz pop? I think we just cater to people with really wide tastes. Maybe chamber pop or indie pop?

You guys grew up in a really small town called Baraboo. Was it as exotic as it sounds?

I don’t know a lot people that love their hometown. Baraboo has like 10,000 people, we basically have farms. There was even a ‘drive your tractor to school’ da. If you didn’t have one, you were outcasted. It wasn’t like the most inspiring place for someone that likes art… It’s a shame the government keeps cutting art programmes.

They do it here, too!

Damn, I was going to move here and start a family. Maybe I’ll go to Norway?

Yeah, let’s move there and start our own community. How are you finding the UK?

People are very, very honest here, so when they tell you what a good a job at the end, they also give you something constructive, too.

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Ha ha, sorry. You’ve been touring for about 900 years now. Are you over it?

I have a really hard time with touring. I’m starting to love it now, but at first I really hated it. You meet people on the road too, and they look so so tired and you’re like, ‘Fuck, I don’t want to burn out!’ I’m just trying to figure out the best system to keep myself sane. I like drinking a lot but you can’t drink every day for six week because you’ll die!

Do you manage to shower and keep clean and all that?

I used to be a hairdresser so I’m trying to develop tricks for the road. I’m lucky I don’t have to wash my hair every day. I could wait four days. So I do buns and high ponytails.

Is it crap being the only girl sometimes?

They don’t give me too much trouble. I cut their hair too, so it all works out. It’s like with anyone if you spend a ton of time with them, they get on your nerves. Whenever I have the time I’ll peel away from everyone, have an hour and go and get lunch on my own. I used to see people eating alone and I’d be like what a sad bastard, but now it’s my favourite thing to do.

Tell me about your super-great wardrobe…

What I’ve ended up having to do for being on tour is reduce it so anything can work with anything, which means I wear a lot of black. I like American Apparel, it’s made in the USA, not by children of fucking whatever, I have a black skirt from there and pair it with an old top. I wear black and then get accent pieces. Like a nice belt.

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Are you OK? You sound a bit weird

OK, full disclosure, I just ate tons of fries and mayo and ketchup and they gave me a sausage as well. I feel like meat drunk, I’m like, ‘Oh no I’ve got the meat sweats!’ So my brain is like fried.

Make sure you take a shower tonight before you get on stage and sweat or the front row will get all meat smells.

Ahhahahaha. Oh my God. Good point.

On a more serious note, do you feel like you get treated a certain way being a woman in the music industry?

This is a huge question. The stuff that happens to women on a daily basis is so normalised it’s easy for us to dismiss it as being just the way it is. It’s still really, really fucked up. The way people treat women in general is atrocious. I’ve had promoters hit on me after the show, like ‘I thought this was a business interaction but now you’re hitting on me?’. And people come up to me as ask, ‘Which one of the boys writes the music?’ That is a verbatim quote. Like what, people with vaginas don’t have the capacity to write, you fucking idiots? It’s just slow-burning reminders that you’re not worth anything past your sex to some people.

That must be SO frustrating

I read this article the other day where a woman was saying that instead of saying, ‘You’re a good drummer for a girl’ it should be, ‘You’re a good drummer and a girl’. It’s something that should be highlighted because we want young women to believe that they can grow up and do that. There’s so many tiny reminders every single day, even if I say this guy just made me really uncomfortable, someone will be like, ‘Oh, isn’t it awful to be considered attractive?’ Like if you have an uncomfortable experience it’s like a compliment! No, it’s not! That’s the mental state we need to change.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Ariana Grande: ‘I Look Back At Things I Wore Yesterday And Cringe’

Anna Calvi: ‘I Find It Strange That Women Are Seen As A Minority’

Jessie Ware: ‘I Told My Mum To Chill The F*** Out On YouTube’

Follow Jess on Twitter @jess_commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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