Monika Cefis
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Monika Cefis

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Folk Alternative

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Jul
14
Monika Cefis @ Blanc De Blanc

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

May
13
Monika Cefis @ Mariposa Le Cafe

Montréal-Ouest, Quebec, Canada

Montréal-Ouest, Quebec, Canada

May
12
Monika Cefis @ Bar Palco

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


It is armed with her little ukulele and her magnificent voice that Monika Cefis ended the incredible night. She charmed the public with her original songs, both humorous and touching. She invited to the stage two fellow ukulele players to play their own version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". It was an inexplicable moment that will forever be remembered. Who knew the ukulele could be so cool?

«C’est armée de son tout petit Ukulélé et de sa magnifique voix que Monika Cefis vient clore cette incroyable soirée. Elle charme le public chanson après chanson, toutes des pièces originales et tantôt humoristiques, tantôt touchantes. Elle invite deux autres Ukulélés à la rejoindre sur scène pour interpréter sa propre version du hit de Michael Jackson ‘’Billie Jean’’. C’était le genre de moment inexplicable qui va rester gravé dans les mémoires! On n’y aurait pas cru, mais l’Ukulélé c’est très très cool!» - Emergenza


We could not have asked for a better closing number than the delicious trio of ukuleles lead by Monika Cefis. The adorable musician with the languorous voice was joined by two fellow musicians to present transformed covers such as Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. She then found herself alone on stage to interpret a few original songs after which her musicians came back on stage with their incredible adaptation of Billie Jean. The crowd fell in love, a true "coup de coeur"!

«On aurait pu souhaiter meilleur numéro de clôture que le délicieux trio d’Ukulélés dirigé par Monika Cefis. L’adorable musicienne à la voix langoureuse est accompagnée de deux autres musiciens pour nous présenter quelques covers transformés tels que Radioactive d’Imagine Dragons. Elle se retrouve seule sur scène pour un moment afin de nous interpréter quelques pièces originales, puis ses musiciens reviennent finir sur une interprétation surprenante de Billie Jean de Michael Jackson. On tombe en amour, un vrai coup de cœur!» - Emergenza


Monika Cefis is a uke-swingin' singer/songwriter from Montreal, who seems to be equally comfortable at the piano. Her songs feature clever lyrics, bouncy indie-folk production, and her bubbly voice. Her debut EP is called 'pineapple shakes'.

I've noticed, having received a few contributions from quebecois artists in the past few weeks, that they seem to favor sounds that at least in part originate from warmer climates. Is it because it is so cold up there? - The Modern Folk


"[...] A delightful virtuoso of some wonderful instruments" - Shore Radio Edinburgh


There’s something exciting in the air. Pineapple Shakes, you’re four track EP is set to be
released on June 13th. Can you tell us a little bit about the EP?

It is comprised of four quirky love songs that have been in the works for the past year and
a half. The first track, Scarlett, is the most bare with its daunting ukulele picking and
vocals. The Waltzing Dead, the newest of the four, stands out the most as it is arranged
with piano, cello and violin. Finally, Interstellar Time Bandits and Gooseberry Pie are
light and goofy and feature percussions, piano, melodica and even the Ukulele Club of
Montreal!

There seems to be a recurring theme surrounding Pineapples, llamas and penguins. I have
to know, where did that come from?

I own this little pineapple shaker/maracas. Ironically, I never use it when I am on stage,
but everyone seems to love it. I always have it with me and it has become an emblem.
Thus, the whole pineapple craze.
As for the llamas and the penguins, I am not really sure where they came in. I decided
one day when I was in seventh grade that they were cool. It has stuck with me ever since.


Do you remember the first time you picked up a ukulele?

Christmas 2008. I think. I had asked my brother for a ukulele for christmas as he was
working at Steve’s Music store at the time. I did not think he was actually listening (when
do older brothers ever listen?). Alas, on christmas day he brought me a bright green uke.

Most musicians get pretty nervous before their first show. Most musicians also have a
band or at least something bigger than a ukulele to hide behind. Any one who has heard
your music now knows that you have the power to make beautiful and captivating music
with nothing but you’re voice and the tiny uke, but how nervous were you the first time
you got up on stage?

I used to always perform with someone by my side. I always found it to be so much more
fulfilling and still do, for that matter. About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine invited
me to open up for him at a café in NDG. It was my first ever official solo performance.
September 8th 2012. I was definitely nervous because I was alone in front of a much
more intimate audience. It is so much scarier when you can see people’s faces.
Nevertheless, it went well and so began my love for performing as my nerves turned into
excitement to go on stage.

Not only do you write some amazing music but also you have released some great covers.
You’ve covered varying artists from Billie Holiday to Passion Pit. How do you decide on
the tracks you’re going to record and release?

Why, thank you! There is no method to my madness of choosing which songs to cover.
Sometimes they are requests from friends and family, sometimes they are songs that are
stuck in my head or that I simply love. I recorded all of the covers in my room, they were
more of a way for me to learn, share and make more time for music.

You had the opportunity to play at TedX. You played alongside a ukulele orchestra, which
I have honestly never heard of until I watched the performance. It’s an amazing sound!
Can you tell us about the experience?

It was honestly such an amazing experience. The ukulele has this gift of bringing smiles
to people’s faces. Regardless of whether one is playing a happy or a melodramatic song.
So one can imagine, after listening to a lot of more serious and thought provoking
speakers, the impact that TEN ukuleles can have on someone. Not only was it incredible
to be joined by the talented members of the Ukulele Club of Montreal, but it was very
satisfying to shed awareness on our little instrument which knows very little to no bounds.



You’ve also recently played in the 3rd annual One Man Band Festival, which is a fairly
new fest that’s quickly gaining a lot of momentum. How was the festival?

I would have to say that the One Man Band Festival is one of the most interesting
festivals to have emerged in the past few years. The amount of original and different
talents which were selected to play were absolutely insane. I tip my hat to Jon Cohen for
putting all of it together and thank him for selecting me to play as it was such a great
learning experience. I had the chance to perform alongside wickedly talented musicians
who played far too many instruments at the same time. I learnt so much from them from
the minute they walked into the venue and still cannot believe that I was put on the same
roster as them.

Can you tell us a little about Montreal’s folk scene?

Ma belle Montreal. I feel as though everyone in this city is part of a band of some sort.
There are so many venues and promoters and it is what makes our city so culturally
vibrant. As for our folk scene, it is incredibly diverse. We all mix our genres the same way
we mix our languages. Take, for example, this past years two emerging bands Groenland
and Motel Raphael whose music mixes indie, folk, pop and more orchestral
arrangements. There has always been a lot of emerging talent from this city, and from
what I have heard in the past couple of years in different bars and cafés, there is so much
more to come!

Asides for the EP release, what else does the near future hold for Monika Cefis?

I will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and possibly at a few other
european locations. - Dropout Entertainment


Montreal singer-songwriter and ukulele player Monika Cefis played her UK debut gig last night, and came across as warm and charming. She has a strong voice and a good delivery, and is at her best when she gives her imagination free rein on “Gooseberry Pie” “Interstellar Time Bandits” and “The Waltzing Dead” (If I was a zombie would you still invite me over?) One to watch. - East Coast FM


CM: Who are we speaking to today?

MC: Monika Cefis, nineteen year old Montrealer, singer/songwriter/composer/musician/the works, lover of all things food.

CM: How would you describe yourself to your fans?

MC: Part-time ninja who tends to trip on flat surfaces and casually break out into song and uncoordinated dance.

CM: When did you fall in love with music?

MC: I used to think it was a really good idea to bang on pots and pans with wooden spoons and pretend to be Neil Pert. My parents did not necessarily appreciate it all as much, but I believe that my love for music stemmed from that moment (which I tend to often to re-enact in the kitchen).

CM: What is your creative process?

MC: I like to have a story behind every piece of music I write, whether it be real or fictive. Imagery is key to the music I compose. It is what brings it to life without there being any need for words. Although, I do tend to add quirky lyrics to complement the tunes.

CM: How do you feel about today’s music scene?

MC: I feel that today’s music scene is as amazing as it has ever been. Technology has given us a whole different spectrum of sounds to play with and new gadgets to alter the ones that we have had for thousands of years. The possibilities are endless and eargasms are to be expected.

CM: How do you create a relationship with your audience on-stage

MC: I suppose it all depends on the crowd itself. The art of charming an audience lies in understanding how they are feeling and how you want to then make them feel. As an upcoming artist, most spectators are not always there to watch me specifically perform. I have to cast them under my spell of quirky humour and enchanting music. However, regardless of the size of the crowd, my sound is very intimate and I feel as though this is what creates my relationship with audiences.
Monika Cefis. (Photo by: Maxime Leblanc)
Monika Cefis. (Photo by: Maxime Leblanc)

CM: Out of all the places you’ve performed so far, which one is your favorite and why?

MC: I would have to say Sala Rosa on Saint-Laurent. From the outside it does not look like much, but it just so happens to be one of Montreal’s hidden gems. I think that any act who has performed there would agree. Although the venue can hold quite a large crowd, it still remains intimate with its decor and warm audiences.

CM: Talk to us about your upcoming record!

MC: My EP is comprised of four original songs which will be released on Friday, June 13th (dun dun). I would describe it as a collection of quirky love tunes, with arrangements ranging from ukulele and voice to more complex and contemporary string ensembles. - Colloquium Magazine


Monika Cefis' incredible voice had the entire room speechless! - Sofar Sounds Montreal


A nice gift of ukulele and trombones, wrapped with a bow - Sound of Boston


Armed with a beautiful voice and a flavour for quirky but honest lyrics, she engages every audience she plays in front of... When you see Monika play you can't help but smile and tap your feet." - KickDrum


Discography

Pineapple Shakes (EP) - Friday, June 13th 2014

- Scarlett
- The Waltzing Dead
- Interstellar Time Bandits
- Gooseberry Pie 

- Anxious Argyle

Departure (Part 1) by O S L O - March 31st 2014

- Mourners (ft. Monika Cefis)

Dreamed a Little Dream - Spring 2016

- Palco; Carousel; Tiny Man; Oui Mais Non

Photos

Bio

Armed with her voice, the occasional ukulele orchestra and a band of misfit musicians, this Montreal-based artist has a knack for bringing large crowds to a complete silence. With her enticing melodies and ethereal voice, Monika has been known to forge bonds of unbreakable quirkiness with her audiences. 

The multi-instrumentalist and illustrator made her first appearances at a TEDx conference and at the Montreal Uke Fest before performing at festivals both Canadian and international, namely SXSW, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the One Man Band Festival. Her debut EP, Pineapple Shakes, brings a hint of the unexpected to the usual ukulele-based indie-folk tunes as it’s lyrics will have you giggling and it’s harmonies will have you dreaming in no time. Her second EP, Dreamed a Little Dream, is set to be released this spring after an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign.

She is currently studying Composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Band Members