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Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Monsune

Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Monsune

Monsune first gained attention with the release of his debut single 'Nothing In Return' back in 2017 (the song has since amassed just under 5 million streams on Spotify), but it wasn't until last year's 'Tradition' EP that he shared more of himself musically with the five-track release.

The EP sees Monsune explore his sound - opener '1998' is a glittery, funk-infused song, and lead single 'Outta My Mind' sees his pop sensibilities front-and-centre, with a music video that Monsune (real name Scott Zhang) also directed and produced. The second half of the EP slows things down, with songs like 'Mountain' and 'Jade' showcasing a softer, more acoustic side to his sound.

With these collection of songs, Monsune looks to only get better and better as he continues to develop as an artist.

MUST-LISTEN: '1998', 'Outta My Mind', 'Mountain'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Boy Pablo, Omar Apollo, Gus Dapperton, Still Woozy, Cuco and... making a iPhone short-film set to Childish Gambino's 'Redbone'.

COUP DE MAIN: The opening track of your new EP '1998' is such a fun way to open the EP! Why did you want that song to be the first on the EP?
MONSUNE: Hahah well it’s partially a little nod to Prince, but it’s mainly because that song kinda introduces the whole idea of growing up and out of innocence. I thought it was a good starting point for the project and it’s sort of an ironic banger that gets into it right from the jump. It’s also my birth year, and I guess that’s pretty fitting too.

CDM: 'Outta My Mind' is so good, and it has such a sweet sentiment, of not being able to get someone out of your mind. In the song you sing, "You got me tossin' and turnin', thinkin' of what we could be / I been searchin' for the words, but how do I say / Everything I need to." Do you find it easier to express your feelings in song-form?
MONSUNE: Aw thanks :) I do find it easier sometimes, yeah. I’m a pretty guarded person and am not used to expressing what I’m going through all the time. Writing songs takes away the directness and urgency of having a conversation with someone, and I think that makes it easier to describe how I feel.

CDM: I love the music video - which you directed as well! What's it like working on the visual side of your music? Do you find it just as important?
MONSUNE: Thank you! I’ve always loved films and have always wanted to pay homage to my favourite directors in the videos I put out. This last one was basically just an over-the-top tribute to Wong Kar-Wai. It was def a team effort that took a couple months to plan out and two days to shoot, and was all done for super cheap. Many of the decorations and costumes you see in it were either borrowed or bought and returned afterwards hahaha... I don’t think people should take the videos too seriously though, they’re just a lot of fun to make.

CDM: I saw people note in the comments that the waving cat on the bar counting even waves its paw in time with the music. Was that a deliberate thing? It's so precise!
MONSUNE: Hahahaha no it wasn’t, but it’s sick that people think it was.

CDM: Was it important to take that time between your first single in 2017 to now, to have time to explore your sound for this new EP?
MONSUNE: I didn’t really expect anyone to listen to that song lol. I’m obviously very glad that people did, but I was in school at the time and it was kinda overwhelming to have a bunch of people wanting to hear more of my music. I was also constantly discovering and getting inspired by new shit and I think it took a while to reign all of that in. It took me a little over a year to start and finish the songs on the project, including the time i spent procrastinating and doing school shit. It was really important for me to put something out that I could be totally satisfied with, and I think the extended period of time was necessary for me to do that.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
CDM: It’s always a little different, but usually starts out with me starting an instrumental thing and leaving it on my computer for like a year. Every now and then I’ll go through old files and find something I totally forgot about and wonder why I never finished it. Then I’ll start singing lines and writing words to go along with 'em. The lyric part takes incredibly long for me, but I’m trying to get a bit less heady about it. It’s very rare that I’ll start and finish a song without taking a prolonged break at some point in the process, but that happens sometimes too.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
MONSUNE: Specifically for the songs for sure. Haven’t read nearly enough poetry to write it hahah.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
MONSUNE: Hm probably 'Mountain'. It’s a real personal one.

CDM: I really love the lyric in 'Mountain' when you sing, "'Cause I'm so bored of walking on the same old sky." What was running through your mind while writing that lyric?
MONSUNE: I wrote that song at a time in my life where things were changing pretty rapidly and I was leaving certain habits and people and places behind. I was happy with where I was, but started thinking hard about where I wanted to go. That line is about a relationship I was in that brought me so much joy, but I just wasn’t sure if it could weather all that change.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
MONSUNE: I guess broadly speaking I’d like people to be more honest with themselves and each other. I haven’t always been, and I think that’s why I write songs. To stop beating around the bush about stuff.

CDM: If M.O.N.S.U.N.E. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
MONSUNE: Every Villain Is Lemons.

CDM: What’s on your bucket-list?
MONSUNE: I really wanna climb Machu Picchu someday, have wanted to since I was a kid. Also wanna drive a cybertruck.

CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2020… who are yours?
MONSUNE: Jonah Yano, MONEYPHONE, Dijon, Remi Wolf, Brahny, and Runnner. They’re all on some next shit.

CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
MONSUNE: A cybertruck.

CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
MONSUNE: PSY - 'Gangnam Style' <33333

Listen to Monsune's 'Tradition' EP below...

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