Julie Fern Crawford’s work as Monkoora is dynamic, original and earthy. Taking elements of hip-hop, ambient and psychedelic rock, she blends rusty saws, autoharps, whistles and detuned ukuleles with crisp, lucid beats and multi-layered vocal harmonies. Pop hooks, complex found sounds and ethereal folk melodies combine to make something utterly unique and bewitching. On the 21st April, Hot Gem released her new 6-track EP Nuclear.
The first track, “Bocx Wurld” is a chaotic and playful collision of programmed beats and bright synths, brought down to earth by Crawford’s frustrated-at-society vocal. As she sings about a “nonsenscial, fucked-up world where everything’s put in the wrong places” there’s a growing feeling that Monkoora feels out of step with the world around her…and, really, who can blame her.
“Repelling Radios” is the downbeat calm after the storm. There’s a warm electronic buzz complemented by major piano chords, and Crawford shows off a beguiling croon while singing sensual and eerily comforting lines such as “feed me toasted marshmallows and put me to sleep”. It’s a tense, yet ultimately the most moving, moment on what’s a fascinating EP.
Monkoora had previously released her mini-LP Pale Slopes in 2016, lyrically exploring sexual politics and identity, existentialist philosophy and desire. A multi-disciplined, multi-talented creator like Monkoora cannot help but draw comparisons to the likes of Bjӧrk, Kate Bush, Grimes, or even Scottish contemporaries like SAY Award Winner Anna Meredith, who handpicked Crawford for an artists’ residency in 2016, which saw her perform her final piece at the Manchester Science Museum.