Moniqué: “It’s the surface we try to hide behind that kills us the most”

This weekend sees the culmination of the six show selection process in Lithuania – “Pabandom Iš Naujo”.

One particular song, “Make Me Human”, has caught the attention of many Eurovision fans and has racked up a sizeable number of YouTube views since the show began. The song is performed by a debutant to the competition, Monique, but in Lithuania itself she’s already a household name and she has not only already had a successful career in music but is currently a coach on “The Voice of Lithuania”.

We spoke with Monique about the meaning behing “Make Me Human”, how the staging of the song is evolving and why she decided this was the year it was time to try and go to Eurovision.

Hello Monique, congratulations on your progress so far in ‘Pabandom Iš Naujo’.   ‘Make Me Human’ has already gained a lot of attention both across Europe and within Lithuania itself, with fans enjoying the intensely artistic performance you’ve presented and the quality of the song itself.  There are many interpretations of what you are trying to portray through the lyrics – there is a sense of robotism, of vulnerability and the way we perhaps connect to other people as individuals.  What is your own view on what the song means and how we should interpret the lyrics? 

Thank you for everything. The lyrics, I could go line by line telling you my way of hearing the story but I really like to leave people some space while still giving my perspective on the song. So basically it asks you a question what makes you human? When in between sleeping, eating, working do you feel like you’re really alive and not just existing? And what do you do when you cannot find anything inspirational through your day for a very long time? You start praying and searching for purpose. Whether it’s love for another or for yourself or for any of your talents, abilities and hobbies.

It’s the surface that we try to hide behind that kills us the most, so the robot is just a shield from something that hurts and the emotional voice inside is fighting for its’ right to be heard. And of course in the end you can hear a line which is literal hope. The voice wins.

Monique performing at the Second Semi-Final of “Pabandom Iš Naujo”

There is a beautiful tenderness to both your performance and the style in which you vocally deliver the song, especially the verses which are deeper in tone.    How difficult is the song to sing in the style you are performing it?

I never think before singing in which style is it going to be or am I going the hard or the easy way? I like to give it all when I sing therefore I cannot distinguish if it’s hard to sing or not. I can tell you that it is no way an easy song but singing was never a hard part of my work. It always was and will be the biggest pleasure of all.

I was also really mesmerised by the striking styling and look you presented on stage with your one piece suit, the robotic movements and the interesting symbols showing in the background behind you.  Could you tell us what the concept is with the staging and how much planning and detail it took to prepare it?

It. took. literally. everything. Every working brain-cell to figure out the perfect way we would love to see the perforamance go. It was a whole journey from the wardrobe to the custom visualisations. Choreography and the song just blends in perfectly with my heart and emotions and the story I wanna tell people. It grows everyday because even though our wish was to go full-in the heat 1 and even though we did it, we still found ways to improve it. Hopefully, people will treasure our hearts we put in the performance.

The evolution of the staging of “Make Me Human”

Your name is nearly always mentioned year after year when Lithuanian fans speculate about who they want to go to Eurovision. What made you decide that 2020 would be the year you wanted to enter the national selection contest?  

Of course, every year when they mentioned my name it was encouraging me to go. But I never gave in the pressure before I really felt like going. Going strong with a powerful song. I always knew it was going to be a ballad if I would ever go to Eurovision and by 2019 autumn on my 22nd birthday I knew I was ready. I still think I am, stronger than ever.

You have some great songs in your back catalogue like ‘Palauk dar’ and ‘Nenoriu grjžt namo’, and you seem at ease with either uptempo electronic or more slower, downtempo songs like ‘Žinau ka turiu’.  Who are your own influences as an artist and what’s your favourite style of music to record? 

My influence…I don’t know exactly. I listen to such a variety of music artists who play very different genres and I’m actually pretty lost at finding out who influences my music. But I guess Dua Lipa right now is the closest to my favorite recording genre. Even though, I listen a lot to funk music, Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, Rihanna, ZHU, John Mayer, Mahmood ;), Miley Cyrus, the 1975 and so on. 

You’re an incredibly busy person at the moment as ‘Lietuvos balsas’ (‘The Voice of Lithuania’) is currently showing on Lithuanian television.  How much did you enjoy the experience of being able to choose new talent without initially being able to see them sing and then having the chance to mentor them throughout the show?  Have you found by working with these artists that it has helped you as a singer and musician yourself? 

It is extraordinary to have your childhood dream come true. Ever since I’ve first watched I pretended I’m a coach, closing my eyes, pushing an imaginary button. Doing that right now for real is just something outta this world. What I did not know as a child is the joy of seeing another human being with a dream to sing to succeed in your team, to go through struggles together with him or her and be the lead someone else was once for me. I surely have found inspiration to myself as well, knowing they listen to every word I say, knowing they care what I’ll have to say to them personally and or advice. It has given me the feeling of being needed and important. How strong of a bond is that?

You also tried your hand at acting recently when you starred in the movie ‘As Zvaigzde’ (‘I Am A Star’).  How did you find the contrast between singing and acting and is it something you’d like to do more of in the future?

I’ve also done musicals, operas and I’d say acting is really a passion of mine. I would definitely see myself doing it more in the future. And by the way, music videos very much require the skill of acting. Haha, I like to think that way.

As the contest moves toward the final, how much do you and your team intend to keep changing and evolving your performance so that it could work on the bigger stage at the Zalgirio Arena in Kaunas?

We’ve changed a couple of things, all of them are really minimal but very important to improve the show not only for people in arena but for people in front of a TV. But the biggest improvement has got to be me being relaxed and fully into the song. It’s the last step before Rotterdam and I want people to connect with my singing at the maximum level.

And finally, if you were to be selected for Eurovision it would give you the opportunity to show yourself as an artist to the whole of Europe and beyond.  What would that chance to do that mean to you and what are you own feelings about representing Lithuania if you are fortunate enough to do so?

Honestly, it would mean my countries’ people’s trust and blessing which I would cherish the most. Of course, if I made the best of it, it would change my career path in some ways but it would never change me. I’ve made that promise to myself no matter who wins the final. I want to stay loyal to my dedication for music and for what I do. It’s what I’ll keep on holding no matter what. 

The official video of “Make Me Human”

Many thanks for your time Moniqué and we look forward to seeing you in the Final of ‘Pabandom iš naujo’ on Saturday. ESCBubble will have a team on the ground bringing you exclusive coverage live from the Zalgirio Arena in Kaunas!

Monique will be performing 8th on the night, is she your favourite to represent Lithuania at Eurovision? Make sure you vote in our poll below.

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