The Happiness of Lonely (Uptown Magazine)

By Randall McIlroy, October 14th 1999

Monica Schroeder sits for her first-ever interview with some trepidation.

She’s new to this business of self-promotion, after all: it was only last year that the 27-year-old singer decided that she even wanted to be a songwriter.

Not that you would know it from her first, independent CD, The Expectation of Home. Laminated lightly with melancholia, Schroeder inhabits a beautiful but slightly spooky sonic world shaped largely by rising producer, multi-instrumentalist Olaf Pyttlik’s loops and textures.

“That’s due, I think, mostly to Olaf’s vision,” she says. “I kind of joke about the album I would have made if I’d been producer, because I came in thinking it would be very acoustic – guitar, drums and bass. The first day we started working, I hadn’t realized what kind of taste he had. Because he started off with this drum loop and all these different synth sounds and I got excited because it was totally different.”

Born in Winnipeg, Schroeder grew up in the Manitoba hamlet of Horndean. She sang in high-school choirs and was “always attracted to the guitar”, but the writing did not really begin in earnest until she moved to Winkler two years ago.

“I was just living alone and had a lot of time to process things,” she recalls. “I let myself rest and things started coming out. There wasn’t pressure to write or to have to say something. I just suddenly had something to say.”

Working with Pyttlik in his former studio at Concord College in Winnipeg, Schroeder recorded her debut cassette last year, a personal affair for which she trusted to acoustic guitar and piano. “That isn’t really meant for mass consumption. It was just a personal project. Someone who was close to me had died and I wrote few songs. I just wanted to say some things.”

Live work followed, Schroeder worked in the Winkler region with singer-songwriters Sonia Marie and Darren Day and in gigs facilitated by Dave Stobbe for the Back 40 Fold Festival. “It’s quite surprising, really. There are quite a few people out there that have CDs out. I don’t really feel a part of that community in general (but) Dave has been really good to me.”

Befitting her early moves into the business, Schroeder has not given up her day job in Winkler, where she works in a group home run by the Association for Community Living. As the founder of her own Night Sky Records label, however, she is enjoying a modest taste of music-industry moguldom. “I needed something when I was doing the cassette.” She explains. “It’s kind of exciting. I’ve got my label. It doesn’t mean much, but it’s mine and I have all the control of it. I’m learning as I go along.”

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