HEIDEMANN | Mining Her Own Malaise

Like many, Monika Heidemann is chronicling her day-to-day through social media, though, arguably, not many are seeing the world through the same lens. Considering she's the keyboard player for veteran dance project the Juan Maclean, her Instagram posts are documenting concerts she's performed around the world. They also showcase time spent at sandwich shops in Santiago, Chile, or getting to try out custom synths in Antwerp. Considering the sine wave-twisting sounds she's bringing to the Juan Maclean and her own HEIDEMANN solo project, the latter is the rarer treat.

"I'm definitely a gearhead, especially when it comes to synths. It's definitely something I'm drawn to," she tells ION during a cell phone call spent walking around her Brooklyn neighbourhood.

While she cops to only having been able to fool around with a locally-sourced Modor NF-1 for a few hours while she was in Belgium, Heidemann talks up how she's been building her textured and poppy electro soundscapes at home with a Prophet-6 poly-synth, an MPC drum machine, and a few other analogue instruments. A laptop's digital backdrop could arguably make her one-woman shows go by a bit smoother, but the musician notes she's feeling her all-hands-on-deck approach.

"I don't really like using computers. I don't like having elaborate backing tracks going on. I like interacting with the synths," she explains of her "sparse and simple" ethos, adding that she's also dropped electric bass from her current concert set-up to free up her hands for sequencing duties.

Cued up for an April 8 release is HEIDEMANN's Detectives EP. It's her second release since splitting from New York outfit Xylos, and it follows 2014's tellingly-titled Orphan. The new record reloads the surge protector-exploding "Well Well" from that earlier effort, but Detectives' trio of exclusive tunes has Heidemann unfurling a world of fresh melody. "Last Chance," for instance, is a cathartic electro-pop pounder about living in the moment like it's your last. Rather than herald an end of days scenario, its underlying message is to let go of the past, something the solo artist admits can be a challenge.

"Intellectually, I understand that change happens, and needs to happen. But I definitely go down kicking and screaming, and lamenting, and falling into emotional trauma about it," Heidemann says, optimistically adding of those woes, "I think that obviously inspires my music, so I can get a good song out of it."

Mining her own distress has proved valuable for HEIDEMANN. Slow-mo stomp "I'm So In Love," a duet with Juan Maclean/LCD Soundsystem member Nancy Whang, delivers coolly sung dissatisfaction over a relationship, with relief only achieved by smashing a glass against a wall. "My Pet" conjures the discomfort of an unending, hangdog affair.

"A lot of my songs are pretty much just about romances gone wrong, except for 'Last Chance'--that 's more an existential life crisis. 'My Pet' is about an ex, somebody that I had a co-dependent relationship with; someone that I loved very much. 'Well Well' is about the same person.'" Heidemann confirms that particular relationship is long over with, the Detectives material simultaneously acknowledging the past while gearing up for the future.

The musician wraps the conversation reflecting from a random New York stoop, with a solo EP about to drop and a few Juan Maclean tracks now in the incubation stage. Life seems to be moving on just fine.

HEIDEMANN's EP sees release April 8 through Fabrique Records.


Photo: Danielle Quintanilla

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