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From her beginnings as one of Greece’s most acclaimed indie artists to her work for the theater, Monika made a name for herself as a boundary-breaking artist. Born Monika Christodoulou, she began playing in her brother’s rock band at age 17 and struck out on her own a few years later. Writing confessional songs inspired by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Ennio Morricone, and the Arcade Fire, she put her music on MySpace; the word of mouth surrounding tracks such as “Over the Hill” ultimately led to the release of her debut album, Avatar, in 2008 via the indie label Archangel. Produced by Ottomo and featuring strings and trumpet arrangements by Calexico’s Martin Wenk, Avatar was a critical and commercial success, achieving platinum sales in Greece and tipping Monika as one of the country’s most promising new talents. She worked with Ottomo again on 2010′s Exit, a set of songs informed by opera, French chanson, and her homeland’s traditional music. The following year, Monika expanded her horizons to the stage, penning original music for Angela Brouskou’s 2011 show Mom — Life Is Wildly Incredible. In 2012, Monika visited Daptone Records’ headquarters while in New York, and met the Dap-Kings and Menahan Street Band's Homer Steinweiss. After she played some of her demos for him and Thomas Brenneck, they planned to work together. Monika spent 2013 performing songs from Avatar and Exit as part of the multimedia concert series Primal and wrote the score for a version of Sophocles’ Antigone that debuted at the Benaki Museum Atrium, then began work with Steinweiss and Brenneck on her third album in 2014. Featuring members of the Menahan Street Band, the Dap-Kings and Antibalas, Secret in the Dark found Monika exploring disco, art-pop, and more when it was released in October 2015 on Other Music Records. ~ Heather Phares