Artists / Bands, Culture, Indie / Alternative, Interviews — April 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Chatting up with the top cats: MONSTER CAT

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Things are happening for 4-piece alternative folk rock band MONSTER CAT (Singapore). To start their year, the band shared the stage with Bombay Bicycle Club and The Naked and The Famous at The People’s Party. They’ve released their five-piece track, Mannequins, last year and now teamed up with Director Kristen Ong for their first official music video for “Underwater.” We had a chat with the guys to talk about their sound, events stacked up, and their pet cat.

You guys used to release performance videos of your songs, but what made you decide to finally film a music video?
We take visual extensions of our music very seriously. We think that when our songs are paired with carefully chosen imagery, it will provide the audience with a good understanding of what our art is about. When Mannequins was launched, we focused this aspect on our ‘live’ shows to create that experience in person. So our performance videos were necessary to document this and also to show people the ‘human’ side of MONSTER CAT, because a lot of our promotional initiatives are online. This provides them with the necessary emotional connection to identify with if they discover us on the web. The music video is a natural extension of this. To be honest, we were actually toying around with the idea of a short film based heavily on montages. But that was too immense for us. The next viable option would be for a critically thought-out video to express one of our songs, and fortunately Kristen and her team reached out to us at the right time.

Who came up with the video’s concept for “Underwater”?

The storyboard was primarily conceived of by director Kristen Ong and her DOP Lincoln Yeo, with the band helping in the translation of the visuals. We consciously tried not to impose too much on them, but stepped in occasionally to ensure the narrative and choice of visuals resonates with key elements in the song. We love and respect the energy that arises from collaborative projects—we frequently work with a visual artist for our live shows. So we had no qualms with giving Kristen and her team creative control for this. And it really paid off, because we think the work they produced is absolutely stunning.

This song is included in your 5-track release Mannequins, – can you describe your sound in this album?
Haunting, intimate and intense. I guess if you want to break it down musically, there are elements of folk, post-rock and alternative in the music, but when we were crafting the songs we were thinking more texturally and thematically. We’d like to say that the sound on this album is nocturnal, ethereal and feels like something born out of the subconscious…something that keeps you up at night.

You’ve recently shared the stage with internationally known acts such as Bombay Bicycle Club, The Jezabels, and The Naked and The Famous at The People’s Party in SG. How was that experience for you individually and as a band?
Our manager Errol called us up when we were eating Ramen during lunch, and we said ‘Yes!’ on the spot. It was unbelievable. We’re fans of Bombay Bicycle Club and followed their first performances on Watch Listen Tell all the way to their meteoric rise to popularity today. There was also Metronomy, who were just announced for this year’s Coachella. To be sharing the stage with these world-class acts was out of this world, and we’re very grateful for the opportunity. It’s quite surreal, considering our debut release Mannequins isn’t even a year old! We’re very thankful to the organizers and our manager. Also, the show was really well-organised—the sound and lighting were top notch. It’s been our most enjoyable stage so far. Kudos to the organisers for having a mix of acts, and not simply relegating ‘local’ bands to warm-up acts for a show. It’s a great practice that can only serve to grow the scene and industry. After all, we should be way past the myopic ‘local vs foreign’ distractions—you either like the music or you don’t. Copy Cat actually nicked a fingernail off while hitting the bass drum during “Underwater” and played the bass with a bloody middle finger for the remainder of the set. The adrenaline while playing only meant he realized it after the show, but copious amounts of beer helped to numb the pain.

What could your fans expect for the coming days?

Well, for the short term, there’s a very interesting ‘collaboration’ with Swedish torrent website The Pirate Bay. They’ll be promoting us on their front page, and for a limited time, we’ll be offering some really awesome promotional deals that we’ll be announcing soon, part of which would include giving away our album for free via their webpage, to a global audience. As musicians, it’s a statement on how we approach digital music culture. Torrenting, file sharing and downloading (be it legal or illegal), are here to stay. These are the consumer habits of today. It is a situation that has no straightforward answers and calls for creative, unexpected solutions rather than the use of moral force or worse, the law to protect a status quo. It’s an opportunity for all in the music industry (artists, fans, labels, distributors, gig organizers) to redefine how music is created, consumed, shared and enjoyed. And at the end of the day, the goal remains the same – to create great music and get it out there. So we’ll see how it goes. Aside from that we have a few more videos that we’ll be releasing over the course of the next few weeks and days, so we should be in touch really soon! For the long term, we’re concentrating on growing our fan base both locally and overseas with some exciting collaborations with other creative individuals from fashion and the visual arts in the works. Our focus is also mainly on working on a full-length album of completely new songs, creating some real solid material to unleash upon the public.

And lastly, you guys claim to love cats, do you have, like, a band pet?
Yes, we do. Our band pet is a demon cat / human hybrid known as Torpedo Lard. He’s really handsome and looks like Tony Leung. But he’s fairly psychotic. Also, he can open doors, feign innocence and smell fear…which are pretty stellar qualities for serial killers.

Find more about Monster Cat on their website, Facebook and Bandcamp!