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MONA // Live @ The Doug Fir // 1.23.17

Article and Photos by: Kristina Dawn


Portland, OR — As I was being escorted to a private table with vocalist Nick Brown of Mona to conduct our interview, I couldn’t help but notice how cool he was. Maybe it was the severe jetlag (as the band had just returned from an extensive European tour less than 24 hours prior) that made him present a certain relaxed badassness. It also could have been the classic rockstar painted nails, I’m not too sure. But as Nick and I sat down for our interview, our conversation began to stray away from the formal, and morph into a more casual exchange.

“We love Portland, I like the Northwest in general. Seattle, Portland – I’ve always had a bunch of friends in both cities. As far as a society… It’s definitely more my pace than the Midwest or The South which is where I grew up.”

If you’ve ever heard Mona’ music, you quickly recognize what a mixture of genres reside in their compositions. Nick mentioning “I grew up listening to a lot of Soul and Doo Wop. I never really liked the music that was going on during my time. Now, we like everything from U2, The Joy Division, to punk mixed in with The Beatles and some classic Rock, grunge. It’s all very much a mish-mosh and you can hear it in songs like ‘Shooting the Moon’ where it’s very much Hip-Hop influenced, but classic rock/ambient tones as well. We try not to think it thru too much and just play what feels good.”

Though Nick said the band was completely wiped from traveling, you would have never known by the amount of enthusiasm and vigor those guys performed with. Mona played a 40 minute set, smashing the night opening with “Goons” and their newest single “In the Middle,” off of their latest EP of the same name. Taking it down to a more tender notch later with “Lines in the Sand.”

I was curious as to where the name “Mona” came from. Was it the name of an ex lover? A mother? A Sister? Nope. “It was the name of my grandmother.” Nick said with a tone of adoration. “I grew up in The Assemblies of God Church, which was the same denomination that Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash grew up in. My grandma knew a lot of people in that world, literally those people. So I always knew this kind of ‘yesteryear’ version of being pulled from ‘good to bad,’ like ‘the church and rock & roll.’ So it’s a nod to all of that, finding yourself. Sometimes you might think that you were called to ‘good,’ and really what people think is ‘evil’ is really what you should be doing. All Elvis wanted to do was hymns, and if he would have done that we wouldn’t have an entire era.”

“Being in a band is like being in several marriages, things change, feelings change, intentions change, and you have to change with it. You have to keep re-falling in love with the vision, with the idea of it or you’ll have to move on. We’re lucky enough to still be at it, and still be in love with what we’re doing.”

After their set, the members of Mona spent the rest of the night mingling with friends and fans alike, just as any humble band should.


Kristina Dawn
Kristina Dawn is a freelance music photographer and videographer from Portland, OR. She hopes to one day tour the world, capturing the extraordinary lives of some of the nations best musicians.