In the past year, Victoria Monet has become a top-tier songwriter who has co-written two number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for Ariana Grande: “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings.” In addition, she and Grande have released a duet single called “Monopoly” that recently debuted on the charts. On top of this, Monet is an artist whose singles have attracted millions of views on YouTube.
These achievements are the culmination of a promising music career that started when Monet was a teenager. In 2012, she co-wrote a song (“You Wouldn’t Understand”) for rapper Nas and was a featured vocalist on the cut. She was also featured on two songs by T.I.
It was in 2013 that Monet began her special relationship with superstar Grande, co-writing songs for her and becoming close friends. Monet co-wrote two songs (“Honeymoon Avenue” and “Daydreamin’) for Grande’s debut album, Your Truly. Notably, Monet has co-written songs for all of Grande’s albums, including My Everything, Dangerous Woman, Sweetener and Thank U, Next. She also co-wrote six songs for Grande’s holiday EP, Christmas & Chill.
Monet’s songwriting contributions to Grande’s albums reached a new high with the release of Thank U, Next. Impressively, she co-wrote six songs on this album, including the #1 hits “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings,” the Top 20 hits “Needy” and “NASA,” plus “Make Up” and “Ghostin.”
Last week (on May 4), Monet appeared on a panel at ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO in Los Angeles, with other top songwriters and producers who have collaborated with Grande: Tommy Brown, Scottie Anderson and Mikey Foster.
In addition to her work with Grande, Monet has co-written songs for Fifth Harmony, Jordin Sparks, Machine Gun Kelly, Chrisette Michele, Sara Evans and other artists. She has also been a vocal producer on several projects.
Importantly, Monet is also a talented solo artist who last year released two EPs: Life After Love, Pt. 1 and Life After Love, Pt. 2. Her songs “Ready,” “New Love,” “Freak,” ‘Made In China,” “Love U Better” and “Backyard” have videos that have each been viewed over 200,000 times on YouTube, with “Ready” receiving a million-plus views.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Victoria Monet, which was done in-person at ASCAP EXPO in Los Angeles. She tells how she got started in the music business, how she co-wrote the hits “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings,” and her duet single with Grande, “Monopoly.”
DK: I read that you grew up in California, and you were a singer and dancer early on. When did you decide that you also wanted to be a songwriter?
Victoria Monet: I knew what songwriting was when I was a kid, but I assumed that if an artist was singing the song, that they also wrote it. And so when I was an artist in high school in Sacramento, I started writing my own music. One of my friends who made beats at the time, said, “You’re really good at this, you should be a ghost writer.” He called it a ghost writer. He explained what it was, and so eventually when I moved to LA., I tried to pursue that, in terms of writing, getting my foot in the door as an artist, making relationships, and wanting to be in the studio with new people.
DK: Around 2012, you already had success, getting cuts and features with Nas, T.I. and other artists. How did you connect with these artists?
Monet: The reason I moved to L.A. was because I auditioned for a girl group and I made it into the group. Then through that, I met Tommy Brown and a lot of the collaborators that I still work with today. I signed with a super producer (Rodney Jerkins), and a lot of superstars were coming in and out of his studio, so I was able to see from behind the scenes how it works, and how relationships are made with artists, A&R execs and other people. And I just kept going and following that trail of good relationships, being a good person, keeping my word, being on time, and perfecting my craft. So it really took a lot of time and persistence, but eventually things came through.
DK: You have been working with Ariana Grande for a long time, since her first album. How did you meet Ariana, and start this great relationship?
Monet: It started with the first studio session, and I think that’s usually how relationships start. It’s just the first session, and the success of that session will probably determine your trajectory with the artist.
DK: Was your first session with Ariana as a writer, or as a singer?
Monet: It was a writing session. I was writing with her and Nick Jonas, and I also wrote a song when she wasn’t in the room called “Honeymoon Avenue” that she ended up loving for her project. And I wrote another song called “Daydreamin’” on the same project. I think we just connected on a sound, and I identified very early on what she liked about my songwriting, and what she was trying to do. She wanted to create this vintage sound that she liked…from the ‘60s, and a little doo-wop, and I had a really special connection to that particular sound from growing up. I listened to the Temptations and old school music with my grandma. So I think it just ended up being a star alignment (with Ariana) and kind of a perfect match. On top of that, we ended up being really great friends, so it gave me a lot of insight on subject matter in our work environment. It’s just kind of a nice duality that we had.
DK: On the ASCAP EXPO panel, you said that Ariana liked to say, “Thank you, next.” So you knew that could be a good title, because you were good friends with her.
Here’s the video of Victoria Monet & Ariana Grande’s duet
Monet: Right. It definitely takes a lot of context and clues, to piece together something that feels personal to the artist, And maybe you could even do it with someone you don’t know as well. You can read up on an artist, like on Instagram, and see what they’re going through. It takes a lot of research to be relatable to what they want to say about what they’re going through.
DK: On the EXPO panel, you told the story about the song “7 Rings,” and how Ariana went to Tiffany’s jewelry store and bought rings for her collaborators. So can you elaborate more on the “7 Rings” story?
Monet: It says a lot about Ariana’s personality, to want to appreciate people in that way. And she not only gives gifts, but she supports us on social media…she makes everybody’s presence very known. I think it’s a rarity in the music business to find someone who’s willing to share their spotlight so graciously with everybody that’s involved.
DK: Last summer, Ariana went through a well-publicized breakup with her fiance (Pete Davidson). So with “Thank U, Next,” did she want to create a song that would change the story, that she’s over this relationship?
Monet: Yeah, I think it’s a matter of her taking control from people who were already talking about her, and bringing the subject to her music, versus being narrated by TMZ or blog sites. I think it was a really smart thing to do, to be able to tell her story with her music. And I think she took the reins back with the songs.
DK: You recently recorded a duet song, “Monopoly,” with Ariana. How did the two of you decide to record “Monopoly”?
Monet: I try not to ask her for anything, so luckily she’s so inviting. She’s like, “I think we should do a song together.” It was her idea for her to collaborate with me again. I happened to have this song “Monopoly,” and then we tweaked the song a little so the story could fit her, too. It was an honor to do the song with her, and to have an equal part in the song with a superstar…it was really beautiful.
DK: You also filmed a video with Ariana of “Monopoly,” that seemed to happen fast.
Monet: Yes it did. What happened was, I was touring with her the opening night of her new tour, to be there and see the show. We also recorded “Monopoly” on a Saturday. Then I flew home on a Tuesday, and just as I got home, Ariana called me and said, “Okay, you’ve got to come back, we’re doing the video.” So I got on a flight the next day, and on Thursday we shot the video and I think it was released the next day.
Here’s the video of Ariana Grande’s hit “Thank U, Next,” which was
co-written by Victoria Monet.
DK: As an artist, you released two EPs last year: Life After Love Pt. 1 and Life After Love Pt. 2. Can you talk about these EPs, and your artist career?
Monet: Those EPs were released independently— it was just me [releasing music] to the fanbase that I’ve built on Instagram or social media. No push…just really honest music. I had performed some of the songs when I was opening on the Dangerous Woman tour with Ariana. So some of my fans were briefed on the music and were asking for the real versions. Life After Love Pt. 1 was about a breakup, and getting through that in every step. Part 2 was about moving on and falling in love with yourself, and finding the next love of your life. I’ve also been in the studio, working on my new music project.
DK: Will it be an EP, and when will it be released?
Monet: It’s going to be an EP, and I hope to release it this summer. I honestly think that the music I’ve made for this next project is the best I’ve ever made.
DK: As a songwriter, you’ll certainly be there to write for Ariana. But overall, are you more focused now on your artist career?
Monet: Besides collaborating with Ariana, there are a few other artists that I’m a huge fan of, that I’ll go into the studio for. But I’m really excited and motivated by the ability to perform my music, and dance onstage, sing and meet people, and inspire and touch people. Sometimes you can’t get that in the studio, although the music that you make will do that. I would like to be there, and travel the world and do my things. So I’m taking just a second to really develop my own sound, and find out how I can make my music more present and known in the world.
DK: Thank you Victoria for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Monet: I think I just want songwriters to be aware of their impact, and how many people that they can help and inspire. I think it starts with us, and what we’re doing on a day-to-day, how much fun we’re having enjoying our job. So I would like to inspire people to enjoy themselves in the studio, and remember that we’re making music. You know, music is a fun thing and a healing thing, an all-encompassing, worldwide, relatable thing. It’s like a language that everyone can understand, no matter what language you speak. So it’s one way that the world can communicate together and feel each other. I just want to encourage the next generation, or people who are my peers and above me, to just stay inspired.