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Making A Pop Album In The Wake Of A Brush With Death

Monika's latest album — the Greek artist's American debut — is called <em>Secret in the Dark</em>.
Eilon Paz
Courtesy of the artist
Monika's latest album — the Greek artist's American debut — is called Secret in the Dark.

In 2012, Greek pop singer Monika — who is famous enough back home to be known by one name — experienced an accident that changed her life. She was on a boat with four friends when things suddenly went wrong.

"Our boat was on fire. There was an explosion because of a gas leak," she explains. "Three people couldn't swim that well, so they stayed behind and were rescued by a sailing boat, but me and my friend, we reached the coast. ... I was swimming in the sea for seven and a half hours — and at night, with huge waves."

By the time Monika and her fellow swimmer made it to shore she was nearly unconscious — but she does remember that rescue helicopters were out scouring the water in search of the wreck.

"You realize that life is nothing, actually: It's such a thin rope that can be cut so easily," she says. "So, from the following day I was like, 'Delete everything. We're starting everything from scratch. New life, new Monika. I'm never going to be stressed or in a bad mood anymore. I'm just smiling.'"

That's the ethos with which she approached her new album, Secret in the Dark — which is also her American debut. She discussed creativity in the wake of a near-death experience, as well as why she once wanted to work as a toll collector, with NPR's Scott Simon. Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Staff