That Brunette Celebrates New Single “Capricorn Moon” with a Song for Every Star Sign

Photo Credit: Fred Attenborough

Like your personal life coach, Audiofemme favorite Madeline Mondrala has returned with a new That Brunette jam called “Capricorn Moon,” and it’s all about rebirth, reframing negative thought patterns, and tapping into creative energy. “The sign of Capricorn is known for its practicality, self discipline, ability to build strong foundations, and impeccable work ethic,” she explains. “New moons mark the beginning of new cycles so I think the combination of those energies in tandem with the state of my personal growth at the time allowed me to see my negative thoughts for what they were; thoughts. It felt like a veil was lifted and I was able to interpret my life and myself from a perspective of love rather than judgement.”

Written during a new moon in Capricorn, and recorded with her friend and producer Ariel Loh (Yoke Lore, Drinker, Cape Francis, Gold Child) at his home studio in Queens, “Capricorn Moon” bursts with positive, motivational vibes. “All I needed was a little time,” repeats That Brunette’s breathy vocals before detailing the steps of her emotional growth: “Excavation/It’s the death of old perception/Took the long way/Wasn’t easy/Trusted in my intuition.”

That Brunette says the song is about shifting your perspective from negative to positive in the wake of a personal failure. “It tells the story of my path to forgiving my past self in order to love my present self. I learned when life pulls you apart, it’s an opportunity to put the pieces back together in a new, beautiful way,” she says.

“It describes a mental shift that took place for me when I decided to move away from self loathing and into self love and acceptance. Something about the Capricorn energy at the time gave me so much clarity and motivation to turn the page and enter the next phase of my life with confidence and joy,” she adds. “When I hear the song it reminds me of how far I’ve come. I hope it can do the same for others.”

Xylophone chimes, throbbing synth, and handclaps give “Capricorn Moon” a non-traditional, organic beat; its meditative moods are driving, rather than calming. “The percussive upbeat energy of the drums propelled the song forward and informed the playful nature of the melody,” says Mondrala. “The song excited us so much that we finished it in only a day or two.” “Capricorn Moon” is the first single from That Brunette’s upcoming EP Dark / Cute, also produced by Loh.

That Brunette is something of an astrology buff – this isn’t the first time she’s looked to the stars for songwriting fodder. As a triple Gemini, she says she engages with the world and with creativity from a heady, intellectual place. “I’m always looking for mental stimulation in the form of wit, humor, originality, or outrageousness. Those preferences make my taste very eclectic and camp, with an undertone of contemplative introspection,” she explains. “I feel that my music totally embodies that vibe. I love to speak truth with a wink. That’s what makes my songs both lyrically interesting and danceable.”

In honor of the release of “Capricorn Moon,” That Brunette put together a playlist for Audiofemme composed of twelve tracks – each one chosen to correlate to a certain sign. For her part, she says, “I think the ultimate Gemini anthem has to be the 1997 hit ‘Bitch‘ by Meredith Brooks. The lyrics ‘I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I do not feel ashamed’ embody the duality of being a Gemini.”

Luckily, Mondrala adds, “The people who are closest to me and who I cherish the most are able to handle all the facets of my personality that somehow manage to starkly contrast one another and exist all at once. It can be a bit exhausting sometimes but it’s never dull!”

Charlotte Sands – “Dress”

Inspired by Harry Styles’ Vogue cover, Charlotte Sands went viral on TikTok with “Dress” in December 2020. “The overall vibe of this song along with the person the lyrics describe give me major Aries vibes,” says That Brunette. “It’s super punchy, flirty, upbeat and badass!”

That Brunette – “Platonic”

“I wrote this song about a Taurus in my life who moved to another city,” explains Mondrala. “Their energy had grounded me so much that when they left I felt like a balloon floating out into the ether.” When Audiofemme premiered this song at the end of last year, she pointed out that “platonic love… can be just as profound and transformative as romantic love” – a message Taureans can certainly appreciate, since they’re ruled by Venus and known as one of the most loyal signs.

girl in red – “Serotonin”

Norwegian singer-songwriter Marie Ulven is brutally honest as she rattles off her darkest urges on her alternative-tinged tune “Serotonin,” co-produced by Billie Eilish collaborator/sibling FINNEAS. That Brunette can relate to girl in red’s almost frightening rawness. “I struggle with intrusive and negative thoughts and when I heard this song I felt seen,” she says. “Since Geminis are so word-oriented, a lot of time our anxiety can manifest itself in words too. It feels like your brain is using its own nature against you. This song embodies that dissonance perfectly.” girl in red’s anticipated debut album if i could make it go quiet drops April 30th via AWAL.

SOPHIE – “It’s Okay To Cry”

SOPHIE was nothing short of a musical visionary, and her fatal fall from a tower in Greece in January 2021 was especially shocking. But the lead single from her first (and sadly, only) proper studio album, 2018’s Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, provided a powerful, almost prescient message to embrace our most uncomfortable moods. “RIP Sophie and thank you for this beautiful song. It always makes me think of the sensitive Cancers in my life,” says Mondrala. “I’m drawn to their watery emotional energy because I have none in my chart!”

Young Baby Tate (feat. Flo Milli) – “I Am”

“This is the ultimate self-empowerment song,” says That Brunette. “Leos are amazing at asserting themselves confidently. This song helps me get into that manifestation mindset that comes so easily to them.” In fact, the Atlanta-based Tate Sequoya Farris told Rolling Stone that her latest EP, After the Rain (on which “I Am” appears), was written as a way of talking herself through a difficult breakup – so feel free to put it on when you need some affirmation, no matter your sign.

Qveen Herby – “Sade In The 90s”

“I’m allergic to the bullshit,” claims Qveen Herby in her 2018 ode to iconic smooth jazz singer Sade, going on to prescribe orange soda and Deepak Chopra as essentials for her self-care routine. “Virgos are so good at living in the flow,” Mondrala says. “This song is all about filling your own cup and taking good care of yourself inside and out so your light can shine as bright as possible.” Qveen Herby’s “I keep it moving/Put that shit behind me” mantra definitely reflects that practical Virgo nature.

Taylor Swift – “gold rush”

Libras are my kryptonite – effortlessly cool, beautiful, charismatic, just out of reach,” admits Mondrala. “The person Taylor describes in this song has such Libra energy to me.” Swift characterizes that person as someone that everybody wants on the evermore fan favorite, so much so that she has to remind herself not to be charmed by their magnetism – a trait Libras are definitely known for.

That Brunette – “Coolest Girl”

Scorpios can be very beguiling – independent, emotional, ambitious, and intense, they’re one of the most misunderstood signs, and they actually prefer to remain mysterious. “I wrote this song for a Scorpio in my life,” says Mondrala. “They really are the coolest aren’t they?” That Brunette’s slinky synths meet a surprising twang on the track, almost like the seemingly contradictory characteristics of those Scorpios who always keep us guessing.

King Princess – “Cheap Queen”

The surreal video for “Cheap Queen” tells you everything you need to know about a Sagittarius – their curiosity and quirky sense of humor make them irresistible and fun to be around. Mondrala says, “Listen, Sags can hang! They know how to take care of themselves and those around them. This song song gives off that chill, self assured, yet slightly lonely Sagittarius vibe.” As it turns out, King Princess is actually a Sagittarius – but told Vulture that the song was more an homage to the queer community than an autobiography: “We are all cheap queens. It’s a drag term for someone who is resourceful, who makes something out of nothing, who is a creator on a budget. That’s how I feel.”

That Brunette – “Capricorn Moon”

“This song is all about learning from your past and taking failure as an opportunity to rebuild a better more fully realized version of yourself,” Mondrala reiterates. “Capricorns are masters of practicality. They look at everything logically which can be very helpful when you’re in the process of evolution.” On this song, That Brunette acts as a conduit for that redirection, whispering “Do you feel it too?” like your reliable Capricorn friend might.

Vagabon – “Water Me Down”

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Laetitia Tamko, aka Vagabon, is a bit of a kindred spirit when it comes to pulling inspiration from the zodiac; she opened her 2019 self-titled debut with a track called “Full Moon in Gemini.” Also from that record, “Water Me Down” hinges on the indignation of being misunderstood – a definite Aquarius trait. “Aquarians do not compromise who they are for anyone,” says That Brunette. “This song has a subtle strength to it that definitely reminds me of Aquarius people in my life.” 

Olivia Rodrigo – deja vu

The latest track from “the Pisces queen herself” packs all of the emotional punch Rodrigo’s sign is typically known for. Pisces often fall fast and hard when it comes to relationships, and can have a hard time letting go. Telling the story of an old flame who has moved on to a new relationship only to go through the same motions with someone oddly similar, “deja vu” seethes with heartbreak and bitterness. But belting “So when you gonna tell her that we did that too?” – maybe while driving through your exes’ suburb – is perfect for indulging in a little Pisces-style catharsis.

WOMAN OF INTEREST: Octavia Sulea is the Femme Future of AI and Data Science

Photo Credit: Elisa Quero

Octavia Sulea, a Romanian scholar born and raised in the Northwest part of Bucharest, with a masters in both English linguistics and Artificial Intelligence, and a PhD in Computer Science, is moving the needle as a queer female working in the forefront of technological advancement. With a cutting wit, her creativity in modern technology has granted her the opportunity to apply her PhD studies to innovative start ups, and carve out her own space in a quintessentially non-LGBTQ friendly industry. The hybrid love child of Sailor Moon and Angelina Jolie’s character Kate Libby in the movie Hackers, Sulea is rising up against – and conquering – the tech industry through creativity, perseverance, and a liberal moral compass.

Sulea was raised feeling like an American child through her innate sponge-like quality, and her unique talent for linguistics. She learned English through a rigged satellite dish her scientist father installed to enhance his child’s development; he envisioned her work in science, and the possibility for opportunities to travel overseas and be able to communicate with international scientists in the de facto language of science, English. Due to the ban of American television by the communist Romanian government, her early childhood was spent secretly soaking up the language and inflections of The Flintstones and Scooby Doo. In an attempt to find sanctuary in a childhood anecdote while sleep deprived in the thick of finalizing her PhD and working full-time for a startup in Silicon Beach, she asked her father, “How did I learn to speak English?” He replied, “You were my very successful science experiment.”

Her father also hired a hacker to teach Sulea how to code at the tender age of 11. She went on to study computer science in seventh and eighth grade, and accelerated as the star of her class. “I went to a fully computer science oriented high school that is essentially the source of our brain drain. All the Romanian kids that end up on scholarships at MIT or Harvard would get headhunted from my school, Tudor Vianu,” Sulea explains. “That’s also where I studied English intensively, which enabled me later to earn my masters in English linguistics from the University of Bucharest. I was surrounded by a lot of bilingual kids in Romania, so I was sort of in a bubble. I did always feel like an outsider in my country, especially in my own home, because my parents couldn’t speak English back to me.”

A black swan of her traditional science oriented school, Sulea embraced counter culture, and stood out as one of the few stylized goth queens, also finding solace in poetry and creative writing. Her ability to express herself through fashion inspired by the underworld paved way for her unique perspective in today’s homogeneous tech industry.

Photo Credit: Elisa Quero

Although unconscious at the time, Sulea’s Romanian roots played a role in her passion and direction towards her academic involvement in AI. “I’ve always been immersed in this Romanian fascination with immortality, which kind of culminated in my PhD,” she explains. Historically, Romania has had a strong interest and relationship with immortality. Their ancient culture has a god figure, Zalmoxis, similar to Jesus, who vanished into a cave for three years and was presumed dead, but returned to signify the belief of immortality through resurrection. The term strigoi – originating in Romania – refers to the undead, and has inspired many vampire tropes in Western culture and Hollywood. “I didn’t really see the connection at the time, me being intrigued and fascinated with religion, and specifically, occult practices, folklore, and esoteric tradition, to understand my own heritage,” Sulea continues. “I ended up working in artificial intelligence, and I finally connected the two last year when I finished my thesis.” Vampires live forever, as would we, through robots.

With past experience working in the tech industry in Romania, and as a researcher for The German Research Center in Artificial Intelligence, where she pioneered a method to predict the outcome of a legal case given its description, Sulea currently resides East of San Francisco, the industry epicenter of society’s technological advancement. “America and Eastern Europe are not that different – they’re very male dominated,” Sulea says. “In Germany, in the research community, especially in natural language processing, it’s more balanced in terms of male/female ratio representation. I wasn’t even aware that sexism was a thing until I started undergrad and I was one of the eight women in my entire year preparing to become a computer scientist. There aren’t many queer, immigrant, non-binary software engineers in this world. Because I’m one of very few, I’m really not being represented in my industry.”

Sulea made the shift from working full time on salary for various tech companies in New York and San Francisco to working freelance in Oakland, in an artistic community Southeast of Lake Merritt. Having the agency to interview and fire her clients enables her to feel more protected. “One thing that’s been really empowering has been just saying no. I said a lot of yesses early on and then realized I didn’t need to do things that way,” she says. “I’ve noticed if I just say no to people’s expectations, I’ll more quickly move forward, and feel more rewarded. Setting those boundaries makes me feel empowered, like I’m doing right by me. The tech industry itself can be very one-sided, with one perspective, and it tends to systematically discriminate against anyone who attempts to challenge that perspective.” 

Freelancing, she explains, is “not so one-sided, where the male boss has all of the control and can pit minorities against each other.” As an expert who works for herself, she has the ability to enter a work space, solve a project, then leave, without any of the “team building” which can be an arena of unconscious bias. “It’s healthier for me to not get too personal with the teams I work with, that are typically all straight males,” she says. “From past experience, I’ve been there, and come out of it questioning if I should seek legal reparations.” 

Photo Credit: Elisa Quero

This boundary shifted when a meeting of minds connected Sulea to the ex-Apple engineers (a team of mostly women including three people of color) pioneering STRUCK, an innovative astrology-based dating app that finally hit the App Store after numerous rejections.

For many women and the LGBTQ+ community, astrology has become an important aspect of analyzing relationships and connecting with new friends (as well as potential romantic partners). The app has been carefully and thoughtfully designed to provide an alternative to the shallow-minded bottomless cup also known as Tinder, with a modern feminine user interface, and limited match predictions based on star chart compatibility rather than physical preferences.

When Sulea joined STRUCK, she experienced a dramatic and uplifting shift in her work life. “For the first time I was working in a non-hierarchical organization, nobody was the boss, and I wasn’t reporting up to anyone. I was directly talking to the founders, and if any bugs occurred on the backend I felt comfortable communicating and resolving without any tension,” she says. “I also really loved the fact that I was building the vision and idea of a woman of color. It was so refreshing, and different from my experience with other startups where co-founders were building with clashing visions, and constant tension. STRUCK founders, on the other hand, hired a black female designer, Kristina Alford, to create the visual branding and user experience. Another woman of color, Amy Yousofi, was managing operations, and an established female astrologer, Nadine Jane, was advising the co-founder Rachel Lo and me on the matching algorithm, while the multi-talented male co-founder, Alex Calkins, was bridging everything with a tenacious, supportive nature. It was literally the most beautiful work experience I’ve ever had.”  STRUCK is now exclusive to a platform that rejected them ten times, a motivating anecdote to keep calm and carry on.

While Sulea has yet to conquer immortality, she’s constantly developing her own personal coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with the marginalizing adversity she’s had to face. She is a silent warrior on the front line, leading a revolution of female and queer data scientists in artificial intelligence. The future landscape of technology that she’s helping to build will hopefully reverberate in today’s current echo chamber of power, authority, and resources for more diverse and brilliant disruptors to come.