An Exchange With Monsoonsiren

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It’s war out there, in the clubs, the house parties. If your nights out are punctuated by weeks spent in, it’s likely that you suffer from the delusion that THIS night, will be a good one. Once you decide to brave the small-talk and give yourself up to the greater cause of dance, nothing matters.

But inside, a feeble yet insistent tick mars the fun, and you realise something undeniable. Some nights, the only thing that helps is to get back home, to your own playlist.

Nathan Menon feels that “someone who understands the complexity of being a human being, and how awful it is to deal with emotions and insecurities”, could find appeal in his music. As Monsoonsiren, he releases music to soothe a truant mind, by his own admission. “I can be pretty self-deprecating when it comes to my music; once it’s out there I can’t stand to listen to it.” He insists that it baffles and overwhelms him to learn that there is an audience for his music. “I’m only impelled to make music when I’m depressed; it’s always been a form of cathartic release for me. I think a lot of people who listen to the songs are aware of this.”

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I try to ask him about some of the themes and moods that lend context to his music. “Memories; I’m always trying to re-construct my childhood through my music. Depression; I miss being a child. I think the older a person gets the more morose they become (of course that’s subjective); the intricacies and limitations of love. Paranoia; I’m always under the notion that people dislike me due to my cynical personality, which can sometimes be wrongly interpreted as a form of pretentiousness.”

Giving into some gentle prodding, he elaborates in his characteristically candid style. “I went to a boarding school called Hebron, where I spent nine years of my life getting initiated into a cult widely known as Christianity. I was then thrown out for a number of reasons, long story cut short, my teachers said: “I would never amount to anything”. I then started to get home-schooled. I have a twin brother who’s younger than me by 6 minutes; he’s a dick (but I love him).”

His collaboration with Tom Day was born of having found in him a kindred spirit of sorts. “AH TOM! He’s a genius. We’d work on our own ideas and keep sending it over to each other via email or SoundCloud and from there we’d just keep developing the tracks. It was quite a long and arduous process but it paid off in the end.”

And pay off it did. The EP, along with other releases like his collaboration with Kodak To Graph, Leaks’ remix of ‘Elegiac’  and his succinct mixes on DE:HYPE, Wild City and Consolidate, nudged many in his own country out of their unfamiliarity with this precocious producer. News reached Berlin-based ‘feels-factory’ Project Mooncircle and the label released a new track, along with the announcement of an EP, come December. A casual recalling of the roster he shares space with makes me almost hyperventilate. For anyone familiar with the work of kidkanevil, Rumpistol, Daisuke Tanabe, Rain Dog, memotone, Soosh and Walrus Ghost, this is more than just a big deal.

A scene where taste is sometimes misguided by aggressive social media identity, it is refreshing and also important to appreciate a reticent voice, taking his time to forge a unique imprint. Unhurried by the Joneses, encouraged partly by misanthropy; he excuses himself from the often tunnelled appreciation of art that comes with the sickening sycophancy and insincere applause, rampant in any local scene.

Admitting to a feeling of disconnect from the larger movement of alternative music in the country, his influences form not only his musical aesthetic but his very approach to life. “Shūji Terayama, The Knife/Fever Ray, John Tavener, Kenneth Anger films, Dostoyevsky, Michael Haneke and the wilderness” he rattles off in response to a question on what moves him.

The music of Monsoonsiren may feel ethereal and distantly impressive to some, but to me, its most remarkable quality is the way it hits the spot with its ability to engage emotions painful to describe. Debilitating melancholy marries a sense of defiant purity, and the finished product is as moving in its familiarity, as it is striking in its individuality. His latest single out on PMC leaves one grasping for futile adjectives, and is immediately recognizable as a result of true growth as artist and human. Needless to say, at this point, the future looks explosive for this young cat.

written by Ramya Patnaik

NEWS - 15. October 2014   CITY - Bangalore ARTIST - Monsoonsiren

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