CC: For our readers and listeners who don’t know, who is The New Tarot?
MW: TNT is a music collaboration between me (Monika!) and my sister (Karen!), along with our lovely bassist (Dave Kahn), guitarist (Beth Callen), drummer (Chas Langston ), and trombonist (David Banker).
CC: On your website you mention having bizarre rituals that your fans can partake in, can you describe those rituals?
MW: It all depends on the rhyme, reason and season. Sometimes we pray to the four cardinal points of pop music (usually Amy Winehouse, Bjork, Biggie Smalls and David Bowie), and sometimes we do a light banishing ceremony to rid the crowd of their ghosts and demons for a few hours so we can all party together in peace. Rituals are fun because it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you all do it together, methodically, with a definite purpose in mind. Anything can be a ritual, as long as you call it that.
CC: Do you have any family members that have a musical background that may have influenced what you do today?
MW: Our family has always been musical, we grew up surrounded by noise and instruments; our dad plays bass in a cover band, and our mother starred in a lot of community theater productions. They both had a wide range of music they loved and listened to (Eminem to The Flaming Lips from momma, Bowie to ELP from dad). That eclectic collection definitely rubbed off on our style of writing.
CC: Do you believe having siblings in a band gives you a one up that most bands don’t experience and does it make it complicated at points?
MW: It makes it really easy to fight about things, because we do it so often there’s no way we could ruin our relationship over an argument. Of course that means sometimes our band thinks we’re about to murder each other when it’s really just angry love. Most of the time we’re just vibing on the same wavelength, and I think that’s a really hard thing to find in a stranger. We understand each other really well, so there’s usually little need to explain what we want. Karen and I are opposite horoscopes (Cancer and Capricorn, respectively) and we both have each other’s moon, if that means anything to you astrology heads out there.
CC: Your lyrics and sound are so powerful and moving, is there a method to the madness on coming up with your music?
MW: I don’t think so. This is always a hard question to answer, because songs are like children and each other finds their way into the world differently. Sometimes the melody just comes floating on down and there it is, and sometimes the lyrics pop into being before anything else…then it’s just about evolving the little baby idea to its natural finished state. We like our music to speak for itself, which is why we never set out to restrict ourselves to a certain genre or an exact sound.
CC: What has been your biggest challenge as a band, and did you overcome it?
MW: I think Karen and I both had trouble accepting the fact that this is what we wanted to do with our lives, and throwing away the idea of “Plan B” was difficult. But if you’ve got a dream, an idea, you’ve gotta get your blinders on and keep frikkin going for it. That happy medium between insane ego and modesty, to the point of self deprication is a hard middle ground to keep yourself afloat in, but that’s where the artist must live. You have to think you’re good enough to make it, but bad enough to never be quite satisfied with your craft. It’s easy to get depressed, and it’s easy to give up. It’s the difference between a pipe dream and a reality.
CC: Can you describe your first performance in front of a live audience as The New Tarot.
MW: Unlike drugs, to me, every performance is as good as if not more exhilarating than the last. Our first show I just remember stepping on stage and everything that I am or was before that moment just melts away; someone’s singing a song, and it’s my body; me, I’m just the music, I’m just the songs I’m singing. When I meditate, I look for that same feeling of single-mindedness, when your body and the crowd’s melt into one buzzing electron…the push and the pull, like your part of some intricate biofeedback machine.
CC: You’re regular headliners at a few NYC venues and you’ve been featured in high profile music blogs like NYLON and Consequence of Sound. Did you ever expect to see this happening to your band in such a short amount of time?
MW: I expected nothing like the insanity of the last few years. I’m still happy anyone shows up to our shows, let alone all the press and the attention we’ve been getting. All I can do is be extremely grateful for everything life throws at us, and keep working hard and making music for the people that want to hear it.
CC: Do you have any current projects that you are working on?
MW: We’ve got a full-length album in the works right now, and I’m having a blast with it because we decided to say “fuck it” to the current low attention span trend of singles and one-hit wonders and go full, high concept with our first full-length. I’m very excited to get this out there, because I feel like we’re finding our voice together and because I think as a whole, it’s a story the world really needs to hear right now. I don’t want to give it all away, but it involves summoning angels, alien intelligence, and vedic godesses.
CC: Is there anything you would like to say to our readers before we end this interview?
MW: We love you and you’re beautiful.
All questions answered by vocalist and guitarist Monkia Walker.
Post and interview by Adam Caldera
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