Originally published on The Knockturnal
The Los Angeles-based R&B trap-soul singer songwriter premieres her latest track, “Relax.”
Zoë Monet quite simply lives up to her name. The stunning songstress is a master painter of sorts, slowly caressing notes while swiftly weaving lyrics into atmospheric tracks that make listeners want to live in her fantastical world. A University of Southern California student and recent Kobalt AWAL partner, Monet is used to her music being called “smooth as silk”– her voice is nothing short of intoxicating. “I love silk,” Monet mused. “It’s such a sexy and glamorous fabric to look at, but also to touch and feel. I want my music to make people feel that glamour, that self-indulgence in a way.”
Monet’s passion for music began at an early age growing up in Boston, thanks to MTV. “As a little girl I was absolutely obsessed with MTV. I would be in front of the TV for hours and hours just watching videos and singing with them, and I adored Beyoncé, of course,” Monet reminisced.
Her parents encouraged Monet to explore her curiosity, eventually putting Monet in guitar lessons around age nine. Soon thereafter Monet began writing her own songs. “I just loved making music,” Monet said. “It has always been a part of who I am; I can’t divide myself from it so I almost feel obligated to pursue it.”
At the University of Southern California, Monet found an even larger platform to create her art, including winning the prestigious USC College Talent Tour and connecting her to Chris Lakey of Kobalt. “I really came into myself after moving to Los Angeles,” Monet shared. “I finally had the space to flourish and become who I wanted to be. I honestly owe everything to my parents who worked incredibly hard to get me here.”
Monet’s involvement in the Los Angeles music scene has furthered expanded her chances for collaboration. Currently Monet works with producers who share beats, giving Monet the opportunity to digest tracks before beginning the songwriting process. “I try to listen to the beat and hear what feeling it’s giving me and then I’ll try to find a melody that fits the tone. I always start with the melody,” Monet explained. “Lyrically, I’m thinking about what experiences I can write about that work with everything. If there are more dramatic aspects in the beat, then that’ll really guide the story I tell.”
Monet looks to PartyNextDoor for writing inspiration, admiring his storytelling ability. “The way he uses melodic motifs in his writing is just unbelievable,” Monet gushed. “I can go back to songs that I’ve heard thousands of times and still find something new that draws me in.” Monet also credits Majid Jordan and Sampha for their soundscapes, and childhood favorites Brandy, Mariah Carey, and Aaliyah. “They just have this warmth in their voice that washes over you, that effect has always inspired me vocally.”
“Relax” is a product of Monet’s semester abroad in Milan, a trip that allowed Monet to reflect on her priorities. “I had been holding onto the desire for a relationship for a while and found myself really frustrated by that feeling,” Monet admitted. “I was also detoxing a lot of negative emotion that had built up and being in Milan, away from everything, really prompted that. So ‘Relax’ was the culmination of all those feelings at that time, recognizing who I really was and what I was worth when I didn’t let things hold me back.”
The Rihanna-meets-Flume vibe of “Relax” definitely embodies the free-spirited confidence that Monet exudes. The personal yet universal lyrics (“I don’t need these [expletives] on my timeline/without them I’m doing just fine”) make for a–dare we say, silky–summer anthem; all you can do as Monet croons “relax, relax, relax” over an echoed pulsing ripple beat is lay back and further sink into meditative bliss.
Trust us, after this summer you will know Zoë Monet’s name.