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in conversation: MONOWHALES | music

In a world dominated by pop-superstars like Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran, the three-piece band, MONOWHALES, bring a refreshing up-tempo yet gritty sound. Whilst the former are talented individuals and well-deserving of their success, this Toronto-based band is the new force to be reckoned with.

For me, their alt-rock blend with electronica is nothing short of perfection. Their punchy arrangements do well at echoing the angst we often feel in life. Indeed, if you are ever in the mood to conjure up a punching-ex-lover-fantasy, I highly recommend ‘All-Or-Nothing’. In all honesty, I find their entire discography highly cathartic.

You are probably wondering, ‘MONOWHALES, what an interesting name. How did they come up with that one?

Unfortunately, much like you and I, the band are equally as perturbed on its origins. In the interview, I chuckled at Sally Shar, lead vocalist, calling it ‘a myth’.

As a new fan, I did what any fan would do and stalked. I found myself feeling amazed when learning of the lead’s Syrian heritage. Of course, I am not implying that one’s nationality defines a person but given the underrepresentation of Syrians in the western music industry, I’m sure that this has made someone feel visible. I speak from personal experience. My 13-year-old self would have really appreciated having more female Filipino heroes. Sharn adds, that in addition to being an ethnic minority, ‘as a female, it is important to feel seen… to do whatever you want… even if [you have] the tiniest little spot’ - a sentiment that warmed my heart.

As someone also not well-versed in the intricacies of the Canadian music industry, I enjoyed listening to Jordan’s (guitarist) commentary. As an eloquent speaker, I highly recommend giving his Instagram live on ‘The FACTOR + GRIMES’ a listen. Whilst speaking, I learnt that whilst ‘a lot of it is collaborative work’, there is a ‘disconnect between music and fans’ in Canada. I agree, we have been inundated by the American music industry for a long-time; it is time for a new sound, a new change…

Their most recent rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘The Hand That Feeds’ reverberates this notion. Whilst the original alludes to a different meaning, the lyrics, ‘I keep holding on to what I wanna believe’ and ‘Got your chin held high’ communicates Sally’s reason as to why they chose this song; change is happening. Certainly, ‘it speaks to our generation,’ with the rise in youth activism and that a ‘weight [is] being lifted’. As a listener – now fan – I felt this viscerally.

It suddenly struck me that we were on zoom and not, for instance, having a coffee and a chat in-person. Thus, given that everything came to a halt in the pandemic, I wanted to know how much it impacted their creative process. Zack mentions that they were ‘able to ‘create music in a different way… in the comfort of [their] own home… enjoy writing and collaborating with people all around the world’. I laughed at Sally’s excitement over the fact ‘[they] get to mute!

To my surprise, it only took 2-3 days to finish ‘The Hand That Feeds. I followed up by asking, ‘how do you usually know when you are finished with a song?’

Whilst Zach jokes that they only ‘finish when [they’re] tired’, with piercing lyrics like ‘I don’t hang around anymore / Not a dog made to wait by your door / Shoot my down like you did before / My love on the floor,’ it is easy to believe that this is true.

Keep your eyes peeled, they are expected new songs early next year.

And on behalf Unsettled and I thank you, MONOWHALES for your time and the music recommendations. (Down below)

Nine Inch Nails


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Ratatat - Wildcat

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