Following the release of the self-titled sophomore album, we chat to Monark discussing the new LP, the evolution of their sounds and content, the zany video for the albums lead-single and the pressure from the success of their debut
Your sophomore album is titled Monark. Why did you feel that this album deserved to share a name with your band?
This second album is unashamedly us. While negatives played it safe to a degree, with layers of sounds, this self-titled album breaks things down a bit and also deals with the good and bad. It’s an honest album, so we thought it deserved an honest title. Stating clearly that this is Monark by self-titling the album seemed to make the most sense.
Your debut album Negatives performed extremely well with 6 tracks charting and 3 SAMA nominations. Was there any pressure going into production of your second album following the massive success of your debut?
Absolutely. We didn’t know what to expect with Negatives – and were very pleasantly surprised. The last thing you want to do when releasing a follow-up album is not to maintain the same standard, so there was a lot of pressure to live up to our and everyone else’s expectations. Having said that, we’re really proud of what’s emerged from the studio.
It sounds like this album delved into more of a pop electronica sound leaving behind the rock elements explored in your SAMA Record Of The Year nominated ‘Hush’. Is this true and how would you sound your sound has evolved in your second album?
We really want people to realise that we are a straight up pop act with all the urban/electronic aspects that go with that. It also seems to be in line with what’s happening on the radio in these days. The hooks and melodies are still there – they’re always going to be – but we have packaged them a little differently. It’s a little more edgy, a little rawer and a little less safe, with influences from the hip-hop, urban, West African, electronic and pop world.
As with your first album, this album covers themes of pain, sadness, and the beauty in life. What would you say is the key theme of this album and what is the key message you hope to get across in the music?
The songs deal with all life throws at you in everyday life – relationships, goals, personal struggles etc, and the joy and sadness that is part of life. In some cases there is a message of hope, others an acknowledgement that things can and do go wrong, but also that you’re not alone in that. There might not always be answers, but there is comfort in sharing. And so the message is as simple as just saying that we all go through similar things.
The first single off the album, ‘Broken’ is way out there and quite different from what we’ve come to expect from Monark. The song itself also acknowledges this with the lyrics: “This song is broken”. How did the track come about and what was the reasoning behind making it the album’s lead single?
We wanted to write something different to get people’s attention and to state that this is a new album with new things to discover. The sound in many ways is light-hearted and the music video shows the fun side of Monark, which we haven’t expressed enough previously. But, it’s not an encompassing representation of the whole album. Most of the album is darker than Broken.
In the same fashion, the video for ‘Broken’ is quite different to your previous videos, being quirky and slapstick. What does the video try to portray?
That’s exactly what we were going for – something fun for a change, while still looking cool (things getting smashed in super slow motion). The story line – if there is one – follows a mad scientist type character who has snapped and now goes around breaking things. We just took the song title in the most literal sense and went with it.
You’ve mentioned that work began on this album as soon as you completed your debut album. Have you started work on your third album yet?
Things definitely aren’t being written at the same pace as they were six months before the album was released, but we (especially Eugene) never stop writing and experimenting with ideas. You never know when something worthwhile is going to pop into your head. So, in that sense, we have started working on the third album, but we’re not in the studio laying down tracks.
Catch Monark on the next leg of their album launch at Barnyard Rivonia on the 4th of August. Purchase tickets here or below.
All images by Daniel Craig Johnson