Review Fix Exclusive: Mona Lisa Twins Discuss New Album ‘When We’re Together’

Review Fix chats with eclectic and cool 60s beat duo the Mona Lisa Twins who discuss their new album “When We’re Together,” as well as their hopes and goals for the future.

Review Fix: How did you guys decide to produce the 60s, almost beat-styled music?

Lisa Wagner: We have a strong love and passion for the 60s Beat music that we discovered in our early teens. Though we grew up listing to a lot of music from the 60s and 70s like the Beatles, Cat Stevens and Eric Clapton we didn’t pay much attention to it until we seriously started making music ourselves. Our Dad introduced us to a lot of bands from that period of time and it quickly turned into some kind of obsession. When we finished listening to all the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel records, we were looking for newer music that had a similar style of songwriting and feeling about it. But we could hardly find anything that we thought had the same essence. So after whining about not having been born 60 years earlier for a while, we took matters into our own hands and tried to write songs, which we would enjoy listening to.

Mona Wagner: It’s not so much the “retro”-flair we like about the 60s, but simply the songwriting tradition that we find worthy to be continued. Take songs like “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks, “Bus Stop” by the Hollies or “Dream a little Dream of me” by Mama Cass as examples for timeless, genius songs whose power comes from simple but utterly great melody and arrangement, just like so many Beatles songs. If you’d record those songs at this time of age, they’d still be as terrific.

Review Fix: Who are a few musicians from that era that you’d love to play with and why?

Mona Wagner: Number one would be the Beatles, that’s an easy question. They set the standard for pretty much everything. Songwriting, recording, musical variety, … One could learn so much by playing with them. Jamming with Bob Dylan would be awesome too. Although I’d probably just listen in awe to what he’s singing and be afraid that anything from my part would stop the magic.

Lisa Wagner: Imagine sharing the stage with Simon & Garfunkel. We could form a barbershop quartet. Or think about playing with Janis Joplin or Jim Morrison. I could go on forever, that’s quite a nice thing to daydream about.

Review Fix: What did you learn during the production process of this album?

Lisa Wagner: Maybe the most important thing we learned is how to agree on a dream and then to work out how to make it come true. As we all are huge fans of the 60s music we wanted to somehow reinvent that sound, the good vibrations and the overall feeling that we gained from this music. So we had to learn a lot about how music was written, recorded and mixed in that era. And that is definitely an adventure in itself because sometimes we had to dig deep to find out how things were done back in those days.

Mona Wagner: Actually it’s too many things to list here. We learned so much about song writing, instruments and how to play them, recording, mixing, video production, computer work, cd design etc. But it all boils down to what Lisa said before. Basically to develop a clear idea about something and to work on it until it becomes reality. And on the way you have to learn everything that’s necessary to make it happen.

Review Fix: “When We’re Together” is a cool track. How was it written?

Mona Wagner: Thanks Patrick. With this track we wanted to write one of those love songs that makes you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but without sounding like cheesy pop- a song that radiates positivity and the awesomeness about being in love.

Lisa Wagner: Yeah and we wanted it to be groovy and a bit edgy too, so a guitar solo came in handy. Classy, straight, but with a certain punch to create excitement and make you want to tap your toes or get up on your feet. It was one of the first songs we’ve written, and we wanted it to capture the essence of how we visualized and interpreted our style at this point – strong harmonies and bright guitar sounds. When it came to choosing a title for the album we thought, “When We’re Together” brought across a lot of our general viewpoint on things. Being, living or working together as a band, a family, with your friends or your significant other, the whole of humanity or just being in peace and unity with yourself is what gives this life a thrill and makes it what it is. Don’t separate yourself from the world surrounding you; this is where all the adventures lie.

Review Fix: What song on the album, aside from the title track, do you feel is most indicative of your style?

Mona Wagner: That’s not an easy question because the only style we want to follow is to never repeat ourselves. I know many bands that limit themselves because they want to keep that “signature sound” but I think that’s too much emphasis on marketing and too little on music. Of course there are things we love, like harmonies and our guitar sounds, and there will always be a certain way of how we write lyrics and arrange and mix songs. But we never want to give up variety and excitement in music for a certain image or sound we have to reproduce.

Lisa Wagner: Hmm … to give kind of an answer I would say “The Wide, Wide Land” regarding ballads and for more up-tempo songs maybe “This Boy Is Mine”. But you never know. Tomorrow we might come up with something entirely different. Not so much in spirit but maybe in style.

Review Fix: The music video for “The Wide, Wide Land” is great, what was it like on set?

Mona Wagner: Freezing. I literally felt the coldest I ever did in my entire life, and I’m not kidding. It was a clear winter day, we only had about 3°C (37 °F) and on the huge fields where the video was filmed, there was absolutely no coverage, so the wind blew sharply across the plain. The serious faces we were pulling, really went with the video, which was just perfect. There was a hilariously grim sense of humor on the set, because inside we all wanted to get it done fast and take a hot shower.

Lisa Wagner: Thank you. I remember the shivering quite vividly! In a way it really brought all the people involved together, and we suddenly felt like a group of wildlife survivors that need to stick together. Everyone was very keen on getting the filming done quickly and returning to the warm van, so the shoot was done quite time-effectively. Also no one died of pneumonia which is good!

Review Fix: How do you want people to be affected by your music?

Mona Wagner: For me the most touching comments we get from people are the ones where people say that our music suddenly became a part of their life and made it more exciting. When it brings them through a bad day or makes them sing, dance along or pick up an instrument again after a very long time. Someone once wrote us that he has been smiling constantly for 3 days after he came to one of our shows. That one nearly made me tear up.

Lisa Wagner: I am happy with whatever people gain out of our music as long as it is something worthwhile for them! I would want people to hear our music and feel this tingling sensation you sometimes get when something really touches you. A song can make you feel like you’re on top of the world and provoke your own dreams and ambitions. If we manage to do this to many people I feel like we have accomplished the right thing.

Review Fix: What are your goals for the future?

Lisa Wagner: Primarily we want to keep writing lots of new songs and really develop as songwriters. I definitely want a few more albums on the table within the next couple of years. For me that is what it comes down to in the end – good songs.

Mona Wagner: I agree. In the end that’s what is important. Of course we will aim to play at the Hollywood Bowl and the O2 arena one day. Which artist doesn’t? We will plan a tour for next year and will set ourselves deadlines for new releases and videos. But I think, the ultimate goal is to make good music and I feel there are quite a lot of artists who mix up the importance of different elements of a career. Good songs come first and that’s the number one goal.

Review Fix: What do you guys feel you have to do to reach an even larger audience?

Mona Wagner: That is probably a few things combined. For now we want to continue making music videos to as many songs from the last album as possible – we already have some great new ones in the making and new ideas in mind! We’ll also release a few more covers on YouTube. Nearly 2 million people watched our videos on the internet so far and most of our fans discovered our original music through our covers, so we’ll continue doing this for sure.

Lisa Wagner: After most of the videos are done we will record new songs and then start our first proper tour, probably in the UK. We can’t rely on Austrian press, television or radio as national artists don’t get featured here a lot that’s why we will mainly concentrate on America and the UK to get the word out. I think the most important thing in anything you do, right after quality in music, is persistence, so we’ll just keep working hard and trying to get people’s attention through blogs, radio, YouTube and any other way we can.

After most of the videos are done we will record new songs and then start our first proper tour. We will mainly concentrate on the UK and the USA, since most of our fans are from Anglo-American countries, where this kind of music emerged and still is very popular. We always had the best feedback and business opportunities there. But the most important thing, right after quality in music, is persistence, so we’ll just keep working hard and try to get people’s attention through blogs, radio, YouTube and any other way we possibly can find.

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About Patrick Hickey Jr. 10172 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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