Since her arrival on the scene, Monica Birkenes — better known by her stage name Mr Little Jeans — has far eclipsed her breakout cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” by producing original material that stands alone and gives way to spirited live performances like her September 17th show at SOhO.
Hobbled by an infection in her big-toe joint, Birkenes arrived onstage following opening acts Pompeya and MOTHXR, the latter of which is fronted by Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley. Her injury was unnoticeable, however, as the young songstress immediately flipped a switch and dove right into her hit “Runaway” off her debut album Pocketknife from last year.
Her energy was infectious throughout the course of a two-hour set, as was her million-dollar smile. Mr Little Jeans surely thrives on the intimacy of a compact venue like SOhO and easily won the audience over as she played her way through the bulk of the new album.
Performing for the first time in Santa Barbara, the native Norwegian admitted that you never know what to expect when playing a new city.
“The SB crowd had my mind blown, though. It’ll go down in the books as one of my favorites,” said Birkenes.
By the end of the night, it was apparent that Mr Little Jeans felt right at home with her beloved fans, and she offered a special treat with a premiere performance of her new song “Waking Up,” previewing a forthcoming release.
“The songs for the new EP are pretty much ready,” said Birkenes. “The plan is to have it out by the beginning of next year.”
After her performance, Mr Little Jeans was kind enough to talk to us about her career and direction, offering an insight to what it was like for her move to Los Angeles after living in London for ten years.
“Starting from scratch anywhere is always a challenge, but what surprised me were the slight cultural differences I never really felt from just visiting,” said Birkenes. “Being truly honest about your problems and flaws is something most people only share with their closest friends as it might be perceived as being negative or worse, that you’re a failure. In England it’s more or less celebrated as something to share, bond over, and laugh about.”
In the same way that she works to keep her live performances “honest and real,” the touring singer is open and bubbly on a personal level–not at all like the sharp, threatening weapon after which her debut LP is named.
“My looks and words might kill you, but I’m extremely cautious and scared of anything remotely sharp or physically dangerous,” said Birkenes.
Early into what is shaping up to be a successful career, she acknowledges that there has been a lot of trial and error in finding her place in the music industry. Nevertheless, her self-improving work ethic and charismatic nature are sure to build Mr Little Jeans a loyal following no matter where she plays, in the same way that she won the love of Santa Barbara.