Every reign must start somewhere, and Monarch is starting theirs off strong. Based out of the Hudson Valley, trio Sarah Hartstein, Johnny Lu, and Nick Pappalardo are set to perform their first gig in New York City at Gold Sounds in Brooklyn, New York on December 15th, following the release of their single, “Faces in Crowded Places.” The trio beautifully blends their inspirations of jazz, pop, punk, indie, and rock to create a passionate experience for the listener. This appearance follows their debut performance at Craft Draft in Newburgh, New York. Hartstein described the performance as a dream. “People I’ve only met once showed up to support, along with family from all over, it was awesome,” said Hartstein. In regards to the overall scene, Pappalardo added, “We were able to engage the crowd, which was an important aspect not only for us to create a laid-back atmosphere, but also connect with the crowd.”

The band’s name stems from not a mindset of royalty, but an admiration of nature. They had a list of names that surrounded a nature theme, and at the time, they kept seeing monarch butterflies everywhere. “We had to go with it, it was literally a sign,” said Hartstein. Despite the band’s current cohesiveness, it was a matter of delayed communication that interestedly enough sparked the band’s conception. This is what Johnny Lu had to say about the band’s formation:

“So I just wrote this song for my album and I really wanted a featured vocalist on it. So I asked around for any female singers in the area, which then I remembered asking Sarah a year ago to feature on one of my songs for the Screaming Meemies. Unfortunately Sarah responded to my message 3 months after I finished recording it but she told me if I ever need another feature in the future hit her up so I did and she was fantastic! After that we started writing together and we wanted more of a Jazz element to the songs so I asked my friend Nick to join. So Nick came over and it was like we found the missing piece to our puzzle called Monarch.”

Monarch (From Left to Right: Sarah Hartstein on Vocals, Johnny Lu on Drums, Nick Pappalardo on Guitar)
Monarch (From Left to Right: Sarah Hartstein on Vocals, Johnny Lu on Drums, Nick Pappalardo on Guitar)
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When writing “Faces in Crowded Places,” which was released November 5th, Hartstein referred to the process as being smooth. She came in with the initial lyrics and melody, and Lu followed up by grabbing his guitar and writing the foundation of the song. The majority of the track was recorded from Pappalardo’s home studio. “My input came mostly as a reaction to the framework they had set up, which was a great experience,” said Pappalardo. After working on the scratch track together, they reached out to Wappingers Falls producer Eric Dalton for recording drums and doing the final mix and master. This track marks many firsts for this group. Lu told us that “Faces in Crowded Places” was the first song they had all written together. To add upon that, Hartstein said, “This was my first studio-produced song, and our first release as a band, so it was such a therapeutic process for me.” When listening to this single, I get some vibes that remind me of The Cranberries, 10,000 Maniacs, and Alanis Morissette, which I really dig.

Monarch, as mentioned above, will be playing Gold Sounds in Brooklyn, New York, and sharing the stage with acts likes Hypemom, Street Rules, and Slumberjack. The show starts at 8 pm, and tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Stay tuned because Monarch will be announcing several show dates for January and February. In the meantime, Monarch is preparing to record their first EP, which they anticipate releasing spring of 2022.
Follow Monarch on Instagram for all the latest updates, and stream “Faces in Crowded Places” on your preferred medium.

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