Metal Chick of the Month – Margarita Monet

I wanna lose myself in you…

Attention, metalheads! It’s time for another metal chick of the month here on yours truly The Headbanging Moose, and this month let’s pay our humble tribute to an up-and-coming singer, pianist, composer and actress that truly knows how to blend the heaviness, madness and rage of Heavy Metal with the delicacy and feeling of classical music. Known for her powerful voice and incredible range, she’s the frontwoman and founder for American Hard Rock/Symphonic Metal band Edge Of Paradise. I’m talking about Margarita Monet, or Margarita Martirosyan if you prefer, born on February 15, 1990 in Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, but who has been living in the United States since she was 11 years old.

Margarita moved from Armenia to Moscow, Russia at a very early age with her family, where she lived for about 10 years, starting music lessons at the age of four and quickly accelerating into a competitive and performance-ready pianist, competing and winning awards in numerous piano competitions. When she was 11 years old, her father (who is a scientist) got a job offer in Houston, Texas, in the United States, meaning her life was going to have a huge impact in regards to lifestyle and mindset. In Houston, she attended The High School For The Performing and Visual Arts, for musical theater, moving to New York shortly after where she got accepted into New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts, majoring in Theater at the Meisner Studio and minoring in Music. While living in New York, she acted in off Broadway plays, independent short and feature films, and sang with local bands at the city’s clubs. In addition, as a teenager, Margarita used to go back to Russia during the summer seasons and did some performing and recording with concertos, being known within the community of people who follow classical mostly from competitions in the country.

It was in 2010 when our red-haired diva had another significant move in her life, heading to Los Angeles after getting interest from various acting agents in the city. Just a week after arriving in Hollywood, Margarita already joined a singing and dancing group and recorded on their album Angels De Amor, going solo after various live shows with that group. After going solo and starting working on original material for her first solo album, she met guitarist Dave Bates, who was in search of a singer who could replace Irish rock vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group, Survivor) in their project named BLEED. Soon their music partnership created tremendous results and solidified the band that took up the new name, Edge Of Paradise.

With Edge Of Paradise, which by the way is the official band of Nashville Knights, a women’s American football team of the Legends Football League (LFL) based in Nashville, Tennessee, and part of Rockers Against Trafficking (a foundation created by Kevin Estrada to raise awareness about human trafficking), Margarita released their debut album Mask, in 2011, featuring a rhythm section consisting of Gregg Bissonette on drums and Tony Franklin on bass (coming in at #6 most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Machine Head and Five Finger Death Punch), the EP Perfect Shade Of Black, in 2013, the full-length Immortal Waltz, in 2015, co-produced by Bob Kulick (Kiss, Motörhead) and  Michael Wagener (and coming at #12 on national rock and metal radio charts), and the six-track EP ALIVE, in 2017. If you want to get a fun and pleasant overdose of the gorgeous vocals by Margarita, go to their official YouTube channel (or their VEVO channel as well) for songs such as Mistery, Dust To Dust, Shade Of Crazy, Rise For The Fallen, In A Dream, Break Away and Perfect Shade Of Black, or even for some treats such as their cover versions for Darlene Love’s 1963 song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally’s Song Black Sabbath’s masterpiece Children of the Sea, Margarita’s voice-and-piano version for Scorpion’s all-time classic ballad Still Loving You, or the band’s live performance of the song Ghost at the Soultone Cymbals Studio in 2016. Thus, after listening to her stunning voice in all those songs, you’ll quickly understand why she was featured in Metalholic’s “Top 25 Women in Hard Rock and Metal” in 2012.

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Furthermore, as aforementioned, apart for her music career Margarita also has an acting and screen background going back to her New York days, including a part as a dancer in the 2009 short drama Alicia, playing a character called Amy in the 2010 action movie No Leaf Clover, and portraying an illegal prostitute in the 2011 documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, all under her birth name Margarita Martirosyan. Now with Margarita dedicating a huge share of her time to Edge Of Paradise, it’s uncertain if we’ll see her again on screen, but at least we can rest assured the band will keep shooting videos for their songs, which means more Margarita for our avid eyes and ears.

When asked about her biggest idols in beauty, fashion and music, Margarita provided some interesting and beyond awesome names in all fields. Her inspirations in the modelling and fashion business are first Audrey Hepburn, who she has admired since she was a kid due to her feminine, classy and effortless look and style, and also Doro Pesch and Joan Jett due to their edgier styles. When it comes to music, her list of icons is even more impressive, with unparalleled names such as Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury being her favorite ones due to their distinct and timeless sound, as well as their emotion, attitude and conviction when singing and performing.

Margarita doesn’t see herself as a fashion and make-up junkie, but more like a “creative junkie”, meaning that because of her role with Edge Of Paradise she always strives to create something different and attractive for the fans, leading her to experiment with different looks, and having the freedom to express herself through music and while performing on stage. Having said that, Margarita’s typical makeup and style signature can be considered a mix of Rock N’ Roll with a bit of Gothic fashion, blending leather and lace with bold accessories such as belts and chains, always wearing black with accent colors like red, silver and gold. And, of course, her trademark blood-red lips. All those strong colors and accessories are complemented by Margarita’s endless energy when she hits the stage, being very expressive and putting her heart and soul into each song played, and by her creativity, as she simply loves experimenting with different chains, spikes, fabrics and other material when creating her stage outfit. When asked about how she prepares herself for a concert, Margarita said she tries to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated, and that she doesn’t take too long to get dressed and put on her makeup as she always knows what she’s going to wear. She also said being in a band is a lifestyle she truly loves, and although it’s not an easy one she has a lot of fun and pleasure while working on new material, creating new visual arts for the band and rehearsing, always aiming at moving forward with the band.

Regarding being an artist, our red-haired muse mentioned that she’s always been determined to become an artist since her childhood in Russia, where she was surrounded by art. Her mom used to take her to theaters, concerts and ballets, inspiring her to start performing at a very young age. So far, it has been a thrilling and rewarding ride to her (despite being a very demanding way of life), with honesty, hard work and creativity being some of the most important elements in her career, not to mention her life motto which is “do it because you love it and enjoy every part of the journey, it goes by fast!’’ In addition, singing metal music in front of a huge crowd and recording vocals for Edge Of Paradise were initially a brand new experience and a challenge for her, despite her previous experience as an artist and her passion for classic voices like Dio and Freddie Mercury. Furthermore, Margarita said that coming up with melody ideas and finding her own style were very rewarding steps for her, and of course she’s always interested in evolving as a singer and as an artist in general.

Last but not least, when asked about the importance of image in her life and career, and how social media has had an impact on those, she said that as we live in a digital world where everything is over saturated, social media ends up working as a double-edged sword because we have the tools to reach people, but if you don’t have the best content (both visually and musically) you won’t be able to attract people’s attention. She complemented by saying you really have to create a world that people will want to be part of, inspiring people to follow you, and therefore boosting your creative process. Well, I guess Margarita is absolutely right about that, because if you think about it, who doesn’t want to be part of the unique and whimsical world created by Edge Of Paradise?

Margarita Monet’s Official Facebook page
Margarita Monet’s Official Instagram
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Facebook page
Edge Of Paradise’s Official YouTube channel
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Instagram

“Your music has to speak for itself, invest in your content, in the quality of your sound, if you have a great product you will get your foot in the door! Of course it’s important to promote, and that takes a lot of money too. If you’re an independent band you gotta hire your own publicity, but if you don’t have great content to promote you won’t go very far, so I would say make the music that’s authentic and you’re really proud of and you’ll find your way!” – Margarita Monet

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Concert Review – System Of A Down (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 06/19/2015)

The most incredible Armenian squad in the world tore down the house with the recording of their first ever live album on a beautiful night in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Craig Gass

If you’re not from Toronto or have never been to the spectacular Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, the only advice I have is that you should really take public transportation such as the Go Train to get there, because driving downtown Toronto especially during the end of spring and during the whole summer, when there are thousands of events happening at the same time in the city, is absolutely nuts.

Anyway, I’m not really sure if this can be called an opening act, but stand-up comedian and impressionist Craig Gass (and not comedian Rob Mailloux as it was announced a few days before the event) did a pretty good job in my opinion warming up an insane crowd avid for heavy music in what can be called a perfect day in terms of weather. For you who didn’t know him, he’s famous for lending his voice to the TV show American Dad!, for his impersonation of the unparalleled actor Al Pacino, and for being in several TV shows such as The King of Queens, Sex and the City and Law & Order. You can view his full career profile HERE.

Back to his performance, as I said he was way better than everyone at the venue could have expected, with his jokes being actually funny, his speech being very organic and with a nice flow, and his impersonation of Al Pacino being indeed amazing. To be fair, I don’t know if an opening band could have had a better response from the crowd than what happened to Craig. He was a excellent choice, and I hope that kind of “surprise” happens again in a near future with other major bands. Not to mention he had an ace up his sleeve when he simply mentioned that the Armenian-American Alternative Metal heroes every single metalhead, alternative or simply fan of good music was waiting for were about to record their first ever official live album right here in Toronto!

SYSTEM OF A DOWN

IMG_0440It was around 9pm when the wicked performance by System Of A Down started, tearing down the house with their unique mix of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll and other hundreds of music genres, creating something special only those guys are truly capable of crafting. The band showed all their love for Toronto with a flawless performance, and the fans at the venue responded back singing, screaming and jumping up and down nonstop to each and every song of their extensive setlist composed of over 25 songs.

The excellent Deer Dance already ignited the electricity among all fans, but it was when they started playing fan-favorites like Aerials, B.Y.O.B. and Revenga that things got really interesting. In Aerials, for instance, I don’t remember seeing a single soul not singing it together with Serj, Daron, Shavo and John. And talking about Mr. Serj Tankian, he perfectly incorporates the “less is more” spirit by not wearing any flashy or special clothes, not trying to steal the spotlight nor anything like that, but by only singing, dancing and having an awesome time on stage with the other band members and all the SOAD fans.

There isn’t much to say about the 100% fiery songs Bounce, Psycho (this one featuring snippets from “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer and “You Spin Me Round” by Dead Or Alive) and Chop Suey! Those songs are made to jump as high as you can and that’s what everyone did, including this guy here writing this review. In addition, it was pretty cool to witness over 15,000 people singing its beautiful lyrics with the band (“I don’t think you trust / In my self-righteous suicide / I cry when angels deserve to die”), including a group of four friends right in front of me who were having the time of their lives during the entire concert, drinking lots of beers and smoking everything they could.

IMG_0444Other songs that deserve some special recognition were one of my favorites of their arsenal, Toxicity (also featuring a snippet from “You Spin Me Round”, by the way); the ballad Lonely Day were thousands of lighters helped Mr. Daron Malakian and the fans give it a special touch while singing it in unison; and also Daron making fun of the stupid lyrics in the also frantic Cigaro. However, for me the most memorable song of their setlist was also my favorite song by SOAD, Prison Song. Just its intro with Serj whispering “They’re trying to build a prison…” already makes my blood run wild, but it was when they changed its lyrics as a tribute to their Torontonian fans, with Daron singing “I buy my crack, my smack, my bitch right here in TORONTO”, that their performance reached a whole new level. Simply amazing.

Last but not least, as the sound quality at the Molson Canadian Amphitheare is beyond perfect, I was able to carefully listen to the powerful sound delivered by drummer John Dolmayan and especially by bassist Shavo Odadjian. That guy is a beast on the bass guitar, not only supporting the performances by Serj and Daron but also offering the fans his own special rumbling lines for the delight of fans of heavier stuff. Unfortunately, after the also classic Sugar was over it was time to go back home, extremely satisfied with the concert that had just finished and knowing we’ll soon be able to watch everything again when their first ever live DVD is released. Hey man! Look at me rockin’ out, I’m on the videooooooo!

Setlist
1. Mind (Intro)
2. Deer Dance
3. Tentative
4. Aerials
5. Soldier Side (Intro)
6. B.Y.O.B.
7. Revenga
8. Soil
9. Darts
10. Radio/Video
11. DDevil
12. Needles
13. Hypnotize
14. Bounce
15. Suggestions
16. Psycho
17. Chop Suey!
18. Lonely Day
19. Question!
20. Lost in Hollywood
21. Honey
22. Forest
23. Suite-Pee
24. Prison Song
25. Cigaro
26. Toxicity
27. Sugar

Band members
Serj Tankian – vocals, keys
Daron Malakian – guitar, vocals
Shavo Odadjian – bass
John Dolmayan – drums