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A celebration of community

The concept of being present in the moment and being fully engaged in your senses is what inspired Monica Demarco’s new event.

Demarco recently recorded a new album for her music project, Cthulha. A release party for the album “Always Who You Were” will be held on Feb. 16 at AirDance New Mexico. A 10-course meal created by four chefs will be served to attendees at the event.

“When people come down to sit and eat the food, they’re like fully engaged,” Demarco said. “The sensation of the taste and the sound happening around them, and the visuals and stuff so that’s it’s like a synthesis of sensory input, I guess, and the idea is like bringing people to a real present experience.”

Chefs Joseph Cortez, Beth Floyd, Faron Stout and Christina Cavaleri will make individual courses, as well as collaborate on other dishes.

“Each food item is inspired by the piece of music,” Demarco said. “I gave the chefs the album to listen to, and they selected their songs and thought of what song they wanted to pair each food with.”

Demarco will perform songs from the new album while guests eat. “All My Grit” inspired a sorbet created by Cavaleri. “Break Me” is the song behind an oyster course by Floyd. “Ancient Gods” influenced a molĂ© dish by Stout, and “La Loca” influenced a Concha course by Cortez. There is a song for each of the 10 courses.

“A lot of the album is themed around transformation and like discovering who you are,” Demarco said. “I tend to be like a sci-fi nerd. I read a lot of science fiction novels. There’s some magical realism. I think my favorite book of all time is ‘So Far From God’ by Ana Castillo and one of the pieces of music is based on that and a character from that book. A lot of themes are about transforming and transcending reality, and like finding a new path, but also like discovering who you are through that process and returning to your roots of who you are.”

The Cthulha performance is not entirely a solo affair for Demarco.

“It’s a solo project, but I’m thinking of the dinner as a celebration of the music community,” she explained. “I’m featuring a lot of artists in my community on a lot of the tracks. They’re like guest artists so instead of just me playing solo, there’s going to be guest string players, guest singers and cellists. It is a solo release, but it is a celebration of our awesome arts community.”

Demarco’s love for music started early when her mother, a pianist, taught her to play piano at age 4.

“I started being in bands and ensembles and stuff in middle school, and part of the school jazz band and orchestra and choir, and I’ve been in a lot of Albuquerque bands,” Demarco said. “The one that I was in the longest was Ya Ya Boom for a good 10 years and currently I’m in a band with my sister called Chicharra. I’ve been in a lot of different bands and part of the Albuquerque scene for a long time. I guess I’m 32 and I started really doing all that when I was 14, so it’s been a good run.”