5 things we learned while getting chatty with Monark

Cape Town – I’m still recovering from a very bad cold when I meet the guys from Monark downstairs for a coffee.

We start chatting. It’s easy, like a get-together with friends I haven’t seen in a while as we chat about everything from their Cape Town trip to Bourbon Street Potch vibes and of course, their new album.

Their second self-titled album has just dropped and while the band is venturing into an awesome new direction with their sound and production, they’re also baring their souls on the new album, which is truly refreshing.

Check out these things we learned from our chat with Eugene Coetzer (vocals), Ewald Jansen van Rensburg (guitar and synth), and Deon de Klerk (bassist):

1) They disagreed about the first single of the album.

Eugene: We had crazy discussions a while back on the content on this album, because when you start writing you have like a feeling of what’s going to happen, so we gotta be all on the same page, and we gotta agree. We argue about stuff like, can we go light-sided or not, obviously with this song, the rest of the album is very intense, but this one first single, Broken, is out there. It’s just happy. And light and stuff. We were like, should we risk that, are we going to lose credibility, and then luckily at the end we all decided. 

2) Their album has something new to say about what is beautiful.

Eugene: There are two sides to what inspired the album. We had serious discussions for a long time. Firstly, world music changes like crazy quickly, you know, so first of all we were like, where are we going to end with the sound of the music, how are we going to predict it? Because you know you’re busy maybe 6 to 8 months with the songs; how do you know it’s going to be current when it releases? So we broke our brains on what would the sound be when the album drops, and not only for changing sake, because we love what’s happening in the world, we love it so much we wanna be part of that thing, you know.

And then the other side, the content, it’s just life you know, life is crazy and it changes. You progress and you view things in a different light. Both our albums deal with sadness and pain, but they also deal with the beautiful things in life. This album has something new to say about what is beautiful, I think it’s like maybe a deeper level now. Every stage, every cycle in your life you discover something new and deeper to what is beautiful and I think that’s our pursuit, that’s the line that can go through all of our things. We are in search of what is beautiful, and this album says, like maybe just as an example: Maybe you see a girl crying and maybe at that stage not trying to fix it, but just seeing that life is beautiful, that is who we are, we are fragile, like that’s maybe the view. 

Ewald: I think the overall feeling would be from people, I would imagine, that the actual content is a bit heavier. And just to that point, it’s more of an elaboration than us making a 180 on where we were, or how we saw things, or going from being positive to pessimistic, it’s nothing like that. It’s more an elaboration and a continuation. 

Deon: I think that’s the cool thing about this album as well, and although Eugene writes the lyrics and stuff, somehow the content always ends up representing in some ways our journeys and where we are at that point. I think also one of the themes of this album is just about us making peace with who we are and being fine with that; and being fine with showing that to the world. Not necessarily trying to sugar coat it, and not necessarily trying to make it look better than what it is. It’s just, it’s who we are, and kind of, deal with it, you know?

(Photo: Daniel Craig)

3) The day they finished their first album, the process already started for their second one.

Eugene: The whole process of the new album was like a year and 4 months. But we spent a short time in the studio, so it was effective luckily. And Ewald also worked his ass off the last part to get the mixing done and stuff because he had a serious deadline, and it’s really incredible. I am in awe of what he’s done!

Ewald: The thing is you never really see the mountain of ice underneath the tip, and that is the writing part. The day we finished the first album, that process started for this album. 

Eugene: It’s something you can’t walk away from, and even now we realise, like you don’t want to realise it, I mean we worked seriously hard, but now it creeps up at the back of your mind, you gotta start now. Like you’re already thinking of the next album, like you gotta start right now! 

4.) They don’t have a secret recipe for longevity in the music industry.

Deon: A healthy balance between discontent, and patience and just a little bit of hope. You need a bit of hope! I don’t think there’s a recipe hey, the difficult thing for us is we are all flippin hectic realists.

Ewald: I think literally for every single artist in the history, the only thing that they have in common is that they make music and that they were successful, but the stories and how they got there are different, and it’s different for each and every one. And especially now that no one really knows what’s happening, no one knows how to monetise the business, and when it’s difficult financially, like it is around the world, you know that’s the first thing where people sort of withdraw funds from. So I literally don’t know what the answer would be to longevity. In the end though, you need to make music that you’re proud of. So if the band ends tomorrow, I’m going to feel really content about the album. I think as long as you can say that at every step of the way, that’s probably the only sure thing you have. 

Eugene: And also I think part of our process was, we had discussions about this thing, and I think to have longevity is to not, this is going to sound so cliché, is to keep it real in the stuff that you’re doing. You can be current, you can adapt to the sound of the world, the production styles, song styles, content styles, whatever, but there’s a line along the way, there’s place you have to find where you have to stay true to who you are. You’re not writing for anyone else, you’re saying what you wanna say. That is cool, and I think in a weird way, this is probably the most different to what we’ve ever done, but I think it’s hopefully the most true to who we are. 

5) Eugene has been trying to moonwalk on stage for the past year, and is still trying...

Eugene: My favourite song on the album is Lonely Light, the beat is just like, boom!, let’s do the moonwalk now! Well, I try to moonwalk!

Deon: He tries the whole time. He’s been trying for the past year! 

Click here to buy Monark's album on iTunes or stream it.

For more info on the band and where to catch them live, like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.