The theatricality of the image is no doubt a nod to a time briefly spent working in costumes at the Abbey Theatre, a period of diversion from music. Growing up in Montenotte, Liv played music from a very early age, taking piano lessons when she was five, doing all the grades, and learning the flute at the Pops Academy in her teens.
“I suppose music was always there but it was always at a hobby level,” she says.
In 2009, she moved to Dublin to study Theatre and Art History in Trinity College.
“I wanted to study theatre because I thought theatre is like everything altogether,” she says in a wondrous tone. I get to do a bit of literature, music, movement, performance… for me that was sort of the all-rounder one. It probably didn’t turn out to be but in my 18-year-old-head this made sense.”
She swapped Dublin for Paris in 2013 in order to progress her design work.
To help make ends meet she started singing in bars and this reawakened her love of music.
“There’s something about getting something for what you love and that’s quite seductive,” she confesses.
“So I think I got sucked in with that and then took it seriously quite quickly.”
She describes the jazz scene in Paris as a fertile one, full of musicians of all nationalities and backgrounds willing to collaborate. It was here she met Serbian double bass player Sava Medan.
“He taught me a lot actually because I don’t have a background in jazz,” she acknowledges.
In 2016 she released her debut EP Beauty in the Park, which she describes as experimental and features drums, bass and voice, while she describes Slow Exhale, a collection of eight loosely sketched and elastic songs that perfectly blend stoic world-weariness with romantic wide-eyed wonder, as slightly more commercial.
“It’s a bit easier on the ear when you’ve got the harmonic instruments in there filling in the gaps,” she says pointing to the additional presence of guitar and trumpet.
“For me this record was the step of going ‘I’m really serious. I’m not just a bar singer, or just singing standards in clubs after midnight — it’s more serious than that’. So I think that’s why I did it,” she maintains.
“But Slow Exhale is definitely softer and calmer. I think the songs are a little bit more mature. The lyrics are a little bit more poetic than Beauty in the Park.”
Beyond the vivid narratives of the lyrics, there is a theatrical quality to the music, augmented by Monaghan’s rich vocals, charming kookiness and moments of musical whimsy.
“There’s a sense of loss in the album but it’s not a negative sense of loss. Talking about ephemeral things.
“I like sad things,” continues the eclectic Monaghan, a fan of tragic Russian literature, Joni Mitchell and Debussy.
“I think there’s something really beautiful in sad things and recomposing them so that they’re not necessarily sad to everyone else.”
Liv Monaghan plays Triskel’s TDC on Wednesday April 10.