EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Monsune’s Scott Zhang

(By: Sarah Chew)

Ryerson, prepare your ears for this new artist’s soulful pop songs, influenced by the emerging art of plunderphonics.

Scott Zhang, the man behind Monsune, is a multi-talented Toronto musician who has been getting worldwide attention recently for his first single, “Nothing in Return.”

His YouTube covers have been racking up over 50,000 views, and the comment sections have been filled with adoration and respect for Zhang’s hard work.

The artist is also an undergrad student in the media production program.

See for yourself what goes on behind the scenes of Monsune.

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(Photo courtesy of Scott Zhang)

Why the name, Monsune?

For a while, I was trying to think of names no one else had thought of – like, I was in bed, and I just thought of it. When I went on Spotify to look up whether or not it was taken, it wasn’t, so. Also, it kind of sounds Asian. I thought it sounded cool.

What genre would you place your music under?

For the one track that I just released, I would say [it was] very heavily sample-based. There’s a genre called plunderphonics that relies heavily on samples from soul, pop, etc. I’d say it’s definitely soul-influenced and I also think of it as a pop song.

What are some of your artist inspirations?

I think the main influence behind the first song I just released would be The Avalanches, a pretty well-known Australian band – basically all their songs are based on samples. They take a bunch of different samples from a bunch of different songs and layer them together to create something completely new. I thought that was a really interesting way of songwriting. That song was six or seven samples from various artists.

What is the appeal of plunderphonics as opposed to traditionally creating a brand new song organically?

I think for one, it’s the nostalgia of listening to a recording that sounds like it’s from the past. The fact that people can use those nostalgic sounds and reimagine them in a modern context – I think that’s what’s the most interesting.

What’s the story behind “Nothing in Return”?

It’s a culmination of a bunch of different experiences I’ve had in my life where I’ve had to wait for people to tell me what they want. Honestly, there was no specific event that inspired it, it was just a bunch of things I wanted to talk about in a whimsical way. It’s not a serious song. It’s pretty much something that happened to me that I thought people could relate to.

What was the idea behind the music video?

I worked on the idea with my friend Jonathan Matta. [We liked] the shot of me, sitting on a merry-go-round, the camera following me as the merry-go-round spins around. I feel as if that embodies the idea of having to wait for someone; just hanging around on a merry-go-round, going in circles and not really coming to a distinct conclusion.

Going back to your childhood, what pushed you to pursue music? Did you grow up around it, or did your parents sing?

No, my parents don’t listen to music at all. They never even turn on the radio in the car. I think what drove me to start singing was my brother, who started singing in elementary school. He was really into Maroon 5, so as a result of that, I got really into Maroon 5, and that was my first foray into any music whatsoever. Now I’m always trying to listen to new artists and get influenced by it. I’ve always wanted to learn new instruments – I remember when I was really young, begging my parents to let me do piano lessons, so I did those for a while. I got into the guitar after listening to pop music.

What’s in the works right now and what’s to come in the future of Monsune?

I’m working on an upcoming video and an upcoming song to be released within the month. Besides that, [there are] some other songs that I’ll probably put out on an E.P., but I haven’t thought that far ahead.

Thanks for talking to us, Monsune. We’ll be keeping up with rising artist Scott Zhang as he continues to release new music, so stay tuned for updates. You can follow Monsune on Facebook, Soundcloud and YouTube.

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