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Brooklyn, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2007

Brooklyn, NY
Established on Jan, 2007
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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Popolio Pop Quiz" - Popolio Blog

"Austinist Show Preview: Monarchs Album Release at Emo's!"

Can't brush off Monarchs as another "pretty-girl-with-achingly-satisfying-vocals-fronting-tight-indie-outfit" no matter how hard you try. Claiming both ATX and Birmingham, AL (BAL?) as their HQs, their self-proclaimed influences run a similarly interesting gamut, including both Jerry Garcia and Amy Winehouse. Fortunately, at this early point in their career, they've none of the contrived grit of the petrol-huffing, boyfriend-slicing latter yet some of the experience and good-nature of the former, relying on their admirable material to draw out lead hottie singer/pianist Celeste Griffin's pristine vocals to the dirtiest degree they seem capable of achieving, which is still a bottle of Wellbutrin short of Chan Marshall, and three cases of Jack shy of Janis Joplin's historic howling. The result: something close to southwestern soul perfection, eclipsing and expanding on burned-out poseurs like Brightblack Morning Light with their brighter eyes and easy dynamics. Tonight, at Emo's (?!) this troupe is celebrating the release of an album proper, including on the bill two luminous local singer-songwriters who also preach the soft-touch: Dana Falconberry and Bosque Brown. Bring a hanky. - Austinist

"Birmingham Weekly: Discovering the Music Of Monarchs"

By Stephen Humphreys

“Notes on Disease,” the first song on the Monarchs’ new EP, Oak, is written with what sounds like the coolest deliberation. The first lyrics come out in a slow drawl, punctuated in almost staccato succession: “Its – been – a – long – time – coming.” And it seems like it takes a relative eternity for that single thought to emerge over the slowly-shifting minor chord progression. But singer-songwriter Celeste Griffin in one sentence establishes a command that will put you on alert with anticipation for her next verbal and musical utterance.

It is partly the haunting vibrato drawl of the voice, the slightly discordant plaintiveness that opens up to show quick flashes of disarming power. It is partly the simple poignancy of the feelings in “It’s Not Me” and “Open It Up,” the urgency belied by the slow and steady rhythms and almost conversational melodies. It is partly the accompanying instrumentation, especially the slow but insistently driving keyboards and wail of the violin.

Monarchs at Cave9. Photo by Stephen Humphreys.

Monarchs at Cave9. Photo by Stephen Humphreys.

That is what I thought I heard, but to my surprise I learned a lot more when I asked Griffin my perfunctory interview questions about her musical training and previous band and songwriting experience.

It turns out that Griffin, who plays keyboards on most Monarchs songs, took piano lessons in the third grade. She plays guitar on some songs, though she never had a lesson. “Notes” is the first song Griffin ever wrote, when she sat down at the piano at her mother’s house a year ago and started playing around with words and chords.

Preston Lovinggood, lead singer for Wild Sweet Orange, happened to be sitting with her and heard something developing in the random musical musings. Lovinggood urged her to keep going. The result of this first effort is perhaps the best song on Oak, but in the last year Griffin has written a torrent of songs that have already bypassed the output of her first recording with songs like “Move Me.”

The Oak EP evolved from that first session. First she got a drummer, then added a bass. Eventually she collected a strong contingent to back her up, including Van Hollingsworth, currently on tour with Maria Taylor, on guitar.

Oak was made in true garage style, recorded on Taylor Hollingsworth’s four-track tape recorder, with vocal tracks laid down in a shower at the women’s bath-house at Wade Sand & Gravel, drums at the abandoned Birmingham Hotel, keyboards on the piano at Griffin’s mother’s house where she wrote her first song.

“Notes” emerged from a long period of struggle, according to Griffin. The succession of songs that has since flowed from her she considers a gift. Frankly, I cannot believe the poise with which she writes music and lyrics, plays and sings, and puts on a performance, for someone who has never done it before. It’s as if, as the song says, it has always been in her waiting to come out.

My friend Olivia, with that eerie female prescience, commented that Griffin must have been keeping a journal for a long time. And that is exactly what Griffin told me. But her journaling was over-analytical, or “head-heavy.” She says it really helps her work through her feelings to place them to music. It is a process of discovery through expression.

“Putting words to a melody frees me,” Griffin says.

As the Greeks and Gnostics knew, discovery and revelation come from somewhere else, we don’t know where, but these songs have been a long time forming, like wine in oak barrels, reaching a fine point before it is ever released.

But just as no song springs from nowhere, every muse has its influences. Just as I detect notes of black currant in a wine, in Monarchs I can hear strains of Bright Eyes — though with less teenage male neurosis than Conor Oberst. Especially on “Open It Up” the lyrics have the lyrical, Southern-summer-night quality of Michael Stipe’s “Nightswimming.” She’s less nerdy and traumatized than Stipe (and Michael agrees that females are superior beings, anyway), and lacks the sexual confusion, too.

Though Griffin’s songwriting skills must still be fledgling, her angst embodies more mature female emotion. It’s both more decisive and fatalistic than we earnest boys can muster. Another thread I hear in her music is Hope for Agoldensummer. Oh, and then there is Maria Taylor. What you hear in the Monarchs is a strong Athens, Ga., influence — an Alabama-Athens axis already pioneered by Maria and her Azure Ray cohort Orenda Fink, Drive By Truckers and others.

Doubtless Griffin is a strong new songwriting talent. You can hear her confidence in “Here I Go Again.” If she keeps writing and keeps getting stronger she could go again and again and end up who knows where. The only criticism that comes to mind from Oak is the deliberate tone-poem tempo and lyrical drone of every song. - The Birmingham Weekly

"KVRX Review of "Those Words, Those Frames""

This is the second release from singer songwriter and UT Grad Student, Celeste Griffin. “Those Words…” builds beautifully on last year’s “Oak EP”, by sticking to Griffin’s knack for infectious blues-hymnal, rock hooks (how’s that for a genre?). The songs are tidy – they rejoice in the highs (2,4,6) and sulk in the lows (1,3,5,7), but without maudlin indulgence. The album is remarkably dynamic and often sneakily personal. On “The Things You Build Yourself” – a favorite at shows – a seemingly light-hearted, piano sing-along, unveils an empowering and anthemic rally: “If you ever lose your man or your wealth, you will always have the things you built yourself.” The lyrics sway between this brand of strong feminine mantra and tender, self-reflection, which combined with the warm analog recording, deft musicianship, and Griffin’s soulful, smoky, yet approachable voice, makes the album feel very personal. It plays like a summer evening on a back porch with a gaggle of friends – quiet moments of pondering shadows and counting fireflies, parsed by bursts of laughter & rolling in the grass. The woman’s got range on her soul and the trip is just plain fun.
TRACKS: (7) Written in an East Side garden. Haunting and contemplative, yet ultimately uplifting. A beauty. (6) Really fun blues romp. Warbly guitar & doo-wop goodness. (5) The slow burn of loss. Hammand organ & lovely harmonies. (3) Lo-fi, shuffle. Doobie Bros. meets Bonnie Raitt. (1) “I’ll go outside and write my spirituals” Nuff said. (2) Woman needs to be moved. Boys? (4) “I found my voice over Gillian Welch.” GIVE ANY ONE A RIDE – YOU CAN’T LOSE

"Austin Chronicle Musician's Register and Recommended Shows"

"Monarchs rely on Celeste Griffin's soulful southern voice and talented songwriting to give the audience music that is both enjoyable and fun as well as heartfelt and deep. From Slow, folky ballads to 2-stepping Rock and roll swing, they offer a lot to many groups of music fans. " more

03/05/10 @ Lamberts
Monarchs, the Sour Notes, Cowabunga Babes
This local layer cake will go straight to your hips, in a good way. The sweet country ballads of Monarchs creep up on you, courtesy of rare songbird Celeste Griffin. The recent release of the Sour Notes’ It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty marks big things for the Austin fourpiece; the pop confections are easy on the ears, but they’ve got the chops to cover Jawbreaker. Openers Cowabunga Babes have returned from tour, ready to get their Kinks off.

01/15/10 @ Hole in the Wall
Haunting Oboe Music
The music of Austin’s pop genre-spanners neither featured an oboe nor was especially haunting, but it made great use of the quiet-loud formula. After five years and an ambitious 2008 EP-a-month project, they’ve put out more music than most bands do in a decade, so they’re allowed to call it quits. Give them one last hurrah, as fellow locals Obsolete Machines, Salesman, and Monarchs see them out.

05/01/09 @ Emo's
Monarchs EP Release
A night of Texas-bred country by the ladies. Local quintet Monarchs, led by the fluttering vocals of Celeste Griffin, christen gritty roots-rock ballads of brand new EP Those Words, Those Frames. Singer Dana Falconberry unspools an early 20th century thread from last year’s breezy Oh Skies of Grey. Opener Mara Lee Miller is Bosque Brown, and for her sophomore LP, the Denton singer-songwriter birthed a Baby – Miller’s voice drifts high and lonesome, like some ghost of Appalachia.
AUDRA SCHROEDER - The Austin Chronicle

"Tribeza Magazine's "Bands on the Rise""

pg. 40

Monarchs, led by starlet Celeste Griffin and backed by a few of Austin’s finest, are impressing audiences and creating a buzz with their soulful, roots rock music. Born and raised in Birmingham, Celeste recorded two albums with another set of Monarchs in Alabama before heading to Austin to attend graduate school at the University of Texas. Once here, Celeste recruited Alex Tomaino (guitar), who also plays with Tameca Jones, Phil Ajjarapu (bass), who plays with Andrew Anderson, and Josh Halpern (drums), who is recording an album with Marmalakes, to play in Austin's Monarchs. Celeste, who didn’t discover her musical talent until a few years ago, is attracting big attention with her thick, southern voice and impressive song writing. Monarchs already have plans set for mid summer to record an album with Mike McCarthy, who has produced records for Spoon, Patty Griffin, and Heartless Bastards, to name a few. With mere months to go before graduation, Celeste says, “This is my heart…when I get done, I’m going for it. Music.” Download Monarchs’ music on iTunes, or catch them live upstairs at Lamberts on March 5th with The Sour Notes and Cowabunga Babes. Check their MySpace page for SXSW dates.
- Tribeza Magazine

" Monarchs Interview: SXSW 2010"

While attending graduate school at the University Of Texas, Celeste Griffin, the mastermind of Monarchs, has carved her own path in the music industry. From her humble beginnings in the Yellow Hammer State to playing local venues in her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, Celeste has released two successful albums, 2008's 'The Oak EP' and 2009's 'Those Words, Those Frames.' After making a name for herself locally, Celeste is on the verge of performing at this year's SXSW to audiences from around the world. She spoke to Spinner about her musical style, her band and cookies.

How would you describe your sound?

Monarchs are soulful roots-rock. Sometimes folky, sometimes bluesy, sometimes mellow, and sometimes rocking, it is always soulful and it is always honest.

How did your band come together?

I discovered my talent for songwriting and singing just three years ago. At that time, I was living in my hometown, Birmingham, Ala. and knew several musicians and began recruiting players. Monarchs have changed over time, but one aspect remains the same: Van Hollingsworth. He has played bass and guitar on both Monarchs' EPs, co-writes songs with me and is my closest Monarchs collaborator. After I moved to Austin in 2008, I formed a Monarchs branch in my new Texas home -- this process involved fliers, Craigslist, word of mouth, friendships, etc., so, now, I basically have two Monarchs units: one in Birmingham and one in Austin. This SXSW, however, these bands will blend, as Van will be playing guitar along with my Austin bassist, Phil Ajjarapu, and Austin drummer, Josh Halpern.

What are your musical influences?

Female: Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Chan Marshall, Gillian Welch, Fiona Apple, Lauryn Hill. Male: Neil Young, Van Morrison, John Lennon, Conor Oberst, the Beatles, Jerry Garcia.

How did you come up with the name Monarchs?

I love the concept and reality of family. I have always had this sort of vision of my family line and ancestry as royal with my grandmother Celeste Evans as the queen, and me as the princess. So, given that I was initially writing a lot of songs about stories of my family, I thought naming the band after a dysfunctional, royal family would be perfect. The concept of Monarchs has expanded now. I consider Monarchs to be a community project where the listeners, players, promoters, etc., are all members of the community or family. Even greater than the musical Monarchs, as people, we are all part of a family in this kingdom called universe.

What's your biggest vice?

Chocolate chip cookies, for sure.

What's in your festival survival kit?

Water! A SXSW schedule of shows I want to catch. Throat drops.

Who was your first celeb crush?

When I was little, I thought that that Lee Montgomery, the guy in 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun,' the movie, was just about the hottest thing on earth.

What's your musical guilty pleasure?

I am most definitely down with the TLC 'CrazySexyCool' album. I don't feel guilty about it, though. When is the last time you jammed to 'Creep'?

Beatles or Stones?

The Beatles. That's a mean question, though!

What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?

Well, I have yet to tour! After I finish my album this summer, the touring will begin and I will join the other soldiers of the great highway. Crazy stories to come ...

If you could trade in all of your creative control, for instant platinum-selling success, would you?

No way. However, I would love to figure out how to have both!

Oreos with or without milk?

With milk, for sure. Soggy Oreos are the way to go.

Benjamin Williams is a contributor from Learn how you can contribute here. -

"Austin is Burning: Monarchs + SXSW"

From soulful to poppy, Celeste Griffin, AKA Monarchs, has the range and talent to pull off several genres of music. If you don't believe me, check her out for yourselves. As we embark into a week filled with music, parties and networking the SXSW, we are apt to discover a number of talented musicians; Monarchs is one to watch. As a female musician, she is an inspiration to me. She has the ability to harness her talents, create something unique, and show it to the world. Read what she has to say and hear her play this week.

Interview with Monarchs:

Who and/or what inspires you?
I have AMAZING friends and family. In fact, there is nothing I am more proud of than the close women in my life---my aunts, my mother, my grandmother, my best friends. These are all kick-ass women: beautiful, wise, loving, ambitious, funny, talented. They have taught me so much about life, love, self, and relationships and are my greatest inspiration.

What do you think it means to be a female musician?
As a performer, it involves displaying the femininity that I connect with--beautiful, strong, sexual, vulnerable, all of it.

As a songwriter, it involves showing a feminine perspective of the world. One of the major themes that the women in my life have taught me is that you have to love yourself first... you can't rely on a man to take care of you and fulfill all your needs. Even if you have a strong relationship, it is important to still be pursuing your personal goals and interests. (this, of course, goes for men, too!)

In the song, "The Things You Build Yourself", I summed this up in a little anthem:

When you're down and feeling lonely you'll have
All the things that you have built for yourself
If you ever lose your man or your wealth
You will always have the things you built yourself

What are your plans for the future?
This summer, I am making a full-length album with Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Heartless Bastards). After that---I want to really go for it---get a label, tour, the works.... yah know, all the steps toward world domination.

Be sure to be looking for that album next fall/winter! In the mean time, you can get Monarchs' 2 EPs on itunes.

Those Words, Those Frames - Monarchs

SXSW Schedule:
City of Austin Showcase
Wednesday, March 17th
Monarchs @ 9PM
The Ghost Room
Lineup: SXSW Wednesday Schedule

Studio SX
Interview with Whitney Pastorek of Entertainment Weekly
Wednesday, March 17th @ 3:30PM
Austin Convention Center

Birmingham Plays SXSW Showcase
Friday, March 19th @ 12PM
Creekside Lounge
Lineup: Birmingham @ SXSW2

Stem and Leaf Showcase
Saturday, March 20th @ 5:00PM
Rainey Manor House Venue
90 I35 S - Austin is Burning

"KUT Song of the Day: "Come on and Move Me""

As of two and a half years ago the soulful indie-rock band, Monarchs’, front woman, Celeste Griffin, didn’t write songs, and well she didn’t play an instrument or sing either. After sitting down to her mother’s piano and unintentionally writing a song, she was hooked. Living in Austin, with roots stemming from Birmingham, Alabama, Monarchs recently released their second EP, Those Words, Those Frames.

This is when I repeat, as of two and half years ago the front woman was not whom you’d call a “music maker.” Jealous yet? Just take a listen…

Today’s song of the day is from that EP, Come On and Move Me.

Listen. Enjoy. Repeat.

-michelle guzman
- KUT Texas Music Matters

"Austin Sound Feature"

Sound Off: Monarchs

By Austin Sound • Jan 11th, 2010 •
Category: Featured Story, Sound Off •

Led by the mesmerizing vocals of band centerpiece Celeste Griffin, Monarchs sway in a space between hypnotic Americana and evocative soul, melding the powerful and alluring force of Neko Case, Hope Sandoval, Chan Marshall, and even touches of Erika Wennerstrom. Splitting the band lineups between Griffin’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama and her current base of operations here in Austin, Monarchs released their sophomore EP, Those Words, Those Frames, last year, and have proven a rich addition to the local scene. Find out for yourself this weekend as Monarchs injects some soul into the Hole in the Wall and helps Haunting Oboe Music say farewell this Friday, January 15, alongside Salesman and Obsolete Machines.

Profile: Monarchs

Year Formed:


Members/Instruments played:

Celeste Griffin: Songs/Voice/Piano

with the ATX Monarchs:

Alex Tomaino: Guitar
Phil Ajjarapu: Bass
Josh Halpern: Drums
Katie Holmes: Violin/Harmonies

with the Birmingham Monarchs:

Van Hollingsworth: Bass/Guitar/Song Writing
Josh Cannon: Drums
Anna Carrigan: Harmonies
Jeanette Brabston: Violin

Former Bands/Side Projects:

Monarchs was originally founded in Birmingham, Alabama by Celeste. After she moved to Austin, she gathered the “ATX Monarchs” players and performs under the same name, “Monarchs”. She still plays with the Birmingham Monarchs band members from time to time. Monarchs is Celeste’s first and only band… except for a semi-side project with Taylor Hollingsworth called “Taylor and Celeste on TV.” Her band members, on the other hand, have played/play in lots of bands. Between the two cities, Birmingham and Austin, these bands include: The Triceratops, The Magic Math, , Tameca Jones, Marmalakes,The Jitterbug Vipers, etc etc etc.


2008: The Oak EP (no label)

2009: Those Words, Those Frames (no label)


That’s a really hard question to answer. Some:

XX: Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Lauryn Hill, Gillian Welch, Chan Marshall, Fiona Apple

XY: Neil Young, Van Morrison, The Beatles, Jerry Garcia, Conor Oberst, John Lennon, Jay Z

Strangest comment or comparison ever made about your music:

I was once compared to Bright Black Morning Light…

Favorite local bands:

I really love The Jitterbug Vipers. I think Bosque Brown is amazing (They’re almost local). Like most, I love Spoon. They just keep putting out strong rock albums. Ben Kweller is amazing live. Patty Griffin is one of the best female artists of our time. I have spun Okerville River’s “Black Sheep Boy” about a 100 times. Salesman is awesome.

Favorite local venue:

For Playing: Hole in the Wall
For Listening: Emo’s Inside or Mohawk.

Upcoming shows scheduled:

Friday, Jan 15th @ Hole in the Wall w/ Salesman, Haunting Oboe Music, & Obsolete Machines
Thursday, Feb 11th @ Mohawk w/ Wine and Revolution & Follow that Bird
SXSW stuff in March
Friday, April 9th @ Stubbs w/ Dana Falconberry and Some Say Leland

Shows over the next month that you’re excited to see:

Van Morrison!

Some of your favorite albums from the past year:

My favorite:
Heartless Bastards: The Mountain

Obvious Mind Blowing ones:
St. Vincent: Actor
Grizzy Bear: Veckatimest

Album that isn’t new that i’ve been obsessed with:
The Rolling Stones: Tattoo You (especially the backside!)

Ideal band (past or present) to open for on a national tour:

Hmmm. It’d be fun to have toured with Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. A couple of my friends play for that band and I think that their audience would be likely to get behind Monarchs.

Austin Sound questions:

You have two versions of the band - one in Alabama, and one here. So how are the two groups different, especially for you creatively?

Well, both of the bands have had shifting memberships. For me, the biggest difference is that Van Hollingsworth is in the Alabama band… Van and I do a lot of writing and he is always my most creative collaborator. We just have a really rare musical connection that I haven’t found with anyone else. The Austin band is still settling in and in the process of becoming the best it can be…. We recently got a new awesome drummer and I’m really interested i seeing what it will be like playing a show with him… and how the new band dynamic will feel. I have a good feeling about it… Becoming a good band is just a constant evolving process.

So which famous Monarch do you feel best encapsulates the band?

My grandmother, Celeste Evans Burnum. She’s a queen. I named the band “Monarchs” thinking about my family.

Song Introduction:

I chose “Move on Out” because it’s a sassy little number, good for head nodding and hip swinging. It gets to the point and is over pretty quickly–just like, shibaaam—givin’ it to ya! Also… it has a really dirty guitar par -


The Rise and Fall (2011)
Those Words, Those Frames (2009)
The Oak EP (2008)

All three records have received radio play and 
all can be purchased on itunes: 
streamed via bandcamp:



Celeste Krishna is a southern expressionist singer, songwriter, and producer currently based in New York City. Her body of work encompasses many genres.  She wrote and released her first three albums under the name Monarchs, an Alabama rock band project she founded in her hometown of Birmingham and later expanded into Austin, Texas.  A lover of hip hop and long time student of African dance, she then released an MC project, “ft. Celeste Mixtape” with accompanying dance-based visuals and performances.  Her most recent work, a full length album entitled, “Prelude Red”, is slated for release on May 15, 2017.  She co-produced the record in a sound she calls “lady drip hop” - a blend of soul songs with elegant electronics, thumping down tempo backbeats and folk melodies.  Her live show spans her body of work and currently features an ensemble of female musicians on drum kit, synths, guitars, vocals, percussion, and electronic drum pads.