BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
You couldn’t put together a more perfect band.
On paper alone, the music credentials of each member of Edge of Paradise are nothing less than stellar. But it’s the music that backs up – and blows the ears and mind out – loud and clear.
Whether you’re listening to the soothing piano melodics of “Mystery” or “Shade of Crazy,” courtesy of the band’s latest release, Alive, you know that you are hooked for the rest of your life.
Upon its release, the EP entered Billboard’s Current Hard Music Albums chart at #58 and Top New Album Artist chart at #94. According to vocalist/pianist Margarita Monet, the moment was an exciting, but fleeting, one.
“We have so many things going on, so we were like, ‘YAY, THIS IS GREAT!’ when we heard,” laughed Monet. “But then it turned into, ‘Okay, so what’s next?’ It’s just a never-ending cycle – we have to keep it going, constantly.”
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
Monet was born in Yerevan, Armenia and moved to Moscow, Russia at an early age. Her life revolved around school and ballet – she is also a classically trained pianist and vocalist, and excels in Theater. Upon moving to Houston, Texas when she was 11-years-old, Monet continued her studies and was eventually accepted into New York University’s Tisch School of The Arts. At NYU, she majored in Theater at the Meisner studio and minored in Music.
Edge of Paradise saw its beginnings around 2010, when Monet moved from New York City to Los Angeles.
“I kind of fell into it,” Monet said. “When I moved to L.A., I was involved in a lot of different projects. One local producer asked if I wanted to record a rock song, and he liked the idea that I played piano.”
Monet and the producer began to search for a guitar player. The duo entered a guitar store where guitarist Dave Bates was doing a clinic. A partnership was soon formed.
“I wanted to do something where I could create, be a part of. I was very determined,” Monet remembered. “Dave had a similar vision, plus a background in Heavy Metal. We were a good match.”
Bates, for his part, was looking for a vocalist that could match the pipes of singing sensation Robin McAuley (formerly of the McAuley Schenker Group) who had fronted his previous band, Bleed. When Bates asked Monet to form an actual band with him, it took her by surprise.
“It was completely out of the blue for me,” Monet admitted. “I had to figure out what I could do as a singer. I was a classical pianist and involved in theater, but I never fronted a band, or sang rock or metal. Honestly, I never imagined I could be in a band. I think I secretly wanted to, but I really thought, ‘oh, that could so never happen!’”
2011’s Mask was the band’s debut effort and featured Bates’ former bandmates, bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm and Blue Murder) and drummer Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth and Joe Satriani), as the guest rhythm section. For Monet, it was a start.
“These were songs that Dave and Robin wrote way before Dave even met me,” Monet said. “I had to step in the shoes of Robin and step it up! It was not an easy thing. I soon discovered it really wasn’t that much of a change from performing as a classical artist. It was just a different style and I loved it. I took everything I had ever learned and just applied it to being in a band. It all seemed very natural to me.”
Bassist Nick Ericson and percussionist John Chominsky completed the line-up along the way before Edge of Paradise released Immortal Waltz, produced by Michael Wagener, in 2015.
“It took us a while to find Jon and Nick,” Monet stated. “We went through line-up changes, because it’s hard to find people who are committed and who can play, musicians who could fit with us. This is a business,” she continued. “There are so many aspects that have to work. We’re very lucky with our current line-up. We never fight and we all understand what it takes to be in a band, to keep moving this thing forward.”
BORN TO BE ALIVE
With Alive, Monet said Edge of Paradise has really matured as a band.
“Our sound has emerged as more industrial, more edgy,” she observed. “Chuck Johnson (who produced the release) really brought out the guitars. He helped me with the analogies and guided me as a singer. All of those things led to the evolution of the music. We are really proud of this one – we’re very happy how it came out and where the sound is taking us.”
While Monet and Bates start out writing the music and lyrics, Monet said it’s when the duo bring them to the studio that they come, well, alive.
“We all come from different background of music,” she said, “so everyone contributes. It about what the song needs, not how everyone is versatile and proficient with their instruments. We’re all lucky that everyone knows this and plays what the music calls for.”
The theme of Alive is one of technology versus humanity, according to the singer.
“Technology can be deceiving in a way,” Monet said. “It brings us closer as well as driving us apart. We’re all so consumed by it. That’s the message of the record: Hold on to your humanity, your human interaction. Don’t let your life rely on a machine. I really hope people can take away something positive from it as well as enjoy the musical aspect of it.”
Edge of Paradise is grateful that people are positively relating to it.
“When I write lyrics, I don’t want to put a lot of secrets and messages in them,” Monet revealed. “My lyrics are pretty straightforward. A lot of people are in the same boat in life – trying to grow but having to rely on technology to do it.”
The band released the title track as its first single and followed up with others including “Mystery,” a gentle yet forceful piece that showcases Monet’s classical piano roots.
“It’s a lot of people’s favorite,” Monet enthused. “All of us grow up along with the good and the bad. One way to get through life is just to exclaim that it’s a mystery and enjoy it!”
The band has also released music videos for “Alive,” “Dust to Dust,” “Mystery,” and “Shade of Crazy,” all which are vastly energetic and appealing due largely to Monet’s theater experience.
“Coming from the theater, I love the visual aspect of it,” Monet stated. “It has really helped me with our music videos and stage shows. The videos and music have been really well received! I’m personally thrilled!”
Right now, Edge of Paradise is at the point where the band has a lot of momentum going.
“We know we need to keep at it,” Monet said. “We’re doing more interviews and playing more shows. We know this release is a defining moment for us and we are rising to the challenge to do everything we can to take advantage of it.”
One area Edge of Paradise is looking into is additional musicians in the form of a keyboardist and rhythm guitarist.
“When we are rehearsing,” Monet said, “we go ‘Great, how are we going to perform these songs live?!’ We put a lot of emphasis in sounding as much like the album when we are onstage. It’s not an easy thing. Right now, the keyboards are on a backing track,” Monet added. “Sometimes I do bring a keyboard onstage, but it’s hard, because I want to interact with the audience. We have a lot of guitar harmonies as well, so two extra musicians will be required.”
Monet is the first to admit that maintaining success isn’t an easy thing.
“We know that the main thing is to always focus on the music,” she said. “The quality of the music is what makes for longevity. We just want to stay true to the music that we created and just put everything we have into it, that’s really all we can do. There’s no method on how to do it. You just have to believe in yourself and never give up. We’re growing, bit by bit, and that has made me extremely happy!”
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