One-part style, one-part creativity, and all talent, the Monowhales are 21st century visionaries.
Sally Shaar (vocals), Zach Zanardo (guitar), Holly Jamieson (keyboards) and Jordan Cirosta (drums) don’t just make music, they are an experience.
Their unique style is a part of everything they do. From their use of colour, to the clothes they wear, or the visuals they incorporate in their videos and live performances, everything is purposely done, and well thought out, and it shows.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the brilliant marketing strategy was their own, or if they have help. Sally explained, “When it comes to branding, that is 100% of our control. I do all the artist development, branding, photos, those are all under my umbrella, because we all have different jobs in the band. I love it. Actually, I have my own social media marketing company, so in loving it, I also get to do it for other people as well.” And this lady knows what she’s doing!
After the success of their 2016 EP, Bang, this indie-pop quartet from Toronto recently released a second EP, Control Freak and have been busy ever since.
The first single, “Take It Back” saw their first commercial radio airplay, peaking at #25 on the Canadian Alternative Rock Radio charts.
They spent most of last year writing and developing the songs on Control Freak. Each song has been carefully crafted with a specific sound and message in mind. According Sally, “We like to write songs that have an upbeat theme or melody, but there is an underlying theme or some kind of message. Me and the band are as obsessed with the lyrics as well as the music. We spend a lot of time ensuring we get the message that we want.”
With influences ranges from The Stooges to Mother Mother, their sound is a refreshing take on the alternative pop vibe.
When asked about their song-writing style and how they incorporate such a vast list of influences into their own music, Sally says, “It’s so internalized. You are made up of a conglomerate of your influences. Every person you meet. Everything you hear. You carry that with you in some way or another. There’s no one way to say this artist influenced this album. It’s hundreds and hundreds of artist and live experiences we’ve had have made this up.”
The entire EP is a catchy mix of melody mixed with interesting, and at times, serious lyrics. Easily my favorite song is the second single, “Real Love”, which is about an abusive and obsessive relationship. I almost feel a bit of shame admitting a song with such a subject matter is my favorite, but that is part of the Monowhales charm. They tackle, at times, uncomfortable topics with a backdrop of interesting and upbeat melodies that, at first, you may not even be aware there is a serious message there. Trust me, that message still comes through loud and clear, as you find yourself signing along to the lyrics, and that’s when it hits home.
Produced by AL-P of MSTRKRFT, Sally says the title of the album, Control Freak, sums it all up. “When we try to come up with EP names, I have a list on my phone. And anytime I think of something it could be, I write it down. So, imagine at the end of the writing process, I have 20 different EP names, possibly. Of course, doing anything collaboratively, none of the names I had make the cut. So, when I said to the band “Control Freak”, it just clicked with us all. It really does examine what we’ve been through these past couple years. Whether we’re working on music or photo or video, we get a little bit crazy. It’s a really positive thing that this band has. We work really hard, we care about it so much, it kind of drives us to insanity, but at the same time, we’re so proud of the product that comes out at the end.”
Since I have not had the pleasure of seeing them live yet, I asked Sally what someone might expect at a Monowhales show, and one word came to mind; energy.
As Sally puts it, “The most feedback I get is we are the most energetic act they’ve ever seen. Whether that’s physically on stage, or emotionally, or what we put into everything. There’s definitely energy flowing in everything we do.
The third single/video from Control Freak is “Let It Go”. The song is written about letting go of tension and conflict, inspired by growing pains within the band and their own experiences building strong relationships with each other.
The video is a collaboration between MONOWHALES and Press It/West Films, who have made videos for every single on “Control Freak” so far. Shot at a party and bonfire with some of their closest friends and biggest supporters, the video includes a cameo by local Toronto band Bon Villan, whose remix of “Let It Go” is available on all streaming platforms.
The video combines candid Polaroids with footage of a raucous house party and stop motion animations of the song’s lyrics to create a fun, fast-paced trip through a summer night in the city.
The video comes out just ahead of the band’s Fall co-headline tour with Edmonton’s The Royal Foundry.
“We can’t wait to hit the road with The Royal Foundry” said MONOWHALES drummer, Jordan Circosta. “We are all big fans of their music and couldn’t ask for a better co-headline bill. It will be great to play Montreal again and we look forward to playing Western Canada for the first time.
Keep your eyes peeled kids, we will be in your towns before you know it!”.
Friday, Nov 2 – Ridgeway, ON. @ The Sanctuary
Saturday, Nov 3 – Toronto, ON. @ Rivoli
Sunday, Nov 4 – London, ON. @ Rum Runners
Monday, Nov 5 – Windsor, ON. @ The Windsor Beer Exchange
Thursday, Nov 8 – Montreal, QC. @ Petit Campus
Friday, Nov 9 – Sherbrooke, QC. @Boquebiere
Saturday, Nov 10 – Ottawa, ON. @ House of Tarq
Tuesday, Nov 13 – Winnipeg, MB. @ West End Cultural Centre
Wednesday, Nov 14 – Saskatoon, SK. @ Amigo’s