New tour, new MONOWHALES

Alt-pop band changes name to match maturing sound

Zach Zanardo, Holly Jamieson, Sally Shaar, and Jordan Circosta of MONOWHALES play the Mansion May 31st.  
Credit: 
Supplied by band

MONOWHALES have found their distinct alt-pop sound — now they’re going to put it to the test on May 31 at the Mansion.

It will be their first tour under their new name. In the past, they’ve released singles under the name Gingerale and The Monowhales but they decided if they were going to establish an original sound, they would need a new name to capture its aesthetic.  

“We wanted to streamline the brand of the band and we wanted something that would represent the sort of music we were making now which is very different than what we did before,” drummer Jordan Circosta said in an interview with The Journal. 

Their previous EP Bang featured songs with a wide range of sounds, simultaneously revealing both their lacking sense of self and their obvious talent. 

Though most of the songs on Bang sound slightly timid and reserved compared to their new songs, “White Walls” demands to be noticed. This song’s aggressive tone is far darker than the idyllic retrospective narrative of “Name for Myself”.  

Before the switch, they were already referred to as Monowhales for short and their social media accounts were simply ‘MONOWHALES’—the decision to change it was easy.  

“We were realizing [our music] doesn’t sound like a band called ‘Gingerale and the Monowhales,’” Circosta said. “I think the sound has matured a lot over the last couple years.” 

Singles such as ‘Take it Back” and “Real Love” from their June 1, 2018 EP Control Freak mark the band’s professional growth. “Real Love” has seen a lot of success with the single reaching 36 on the Canadian Alt Rock charts and the music video receiving over 100,000 views on Facebook. 

“When we started out, we were all over the map trying out different stuff, we were music nerds,” Circosta said. “We were all coming from very different backgrounds.” 

In their latest singles, MONOWHALES demonstrate their success at mixing their “different backgrounds” together to make something that represented each of their personal musical preferences. Blending keyboard player Jamieson’s folk background with guitarist Zach Zanardo’s love for raw garage rock and  

Sally Shaar and Circosta’s ambient pop influences, they’ve created something totally new.

“It took a few years until everything coalesced into a sound that feels like all of us but is also something separate too,” Circosta said, reflecting on the struggle of preserving each members’ identity in a collaborative process. 

Though their song-writing is a group effort, Shaar takes lead on visuals. Their music videos are stylistically appealing, though often mask the meaning of their lyrics. In the music video for “Real Love”, Shaar dances in stiff, restrained movements while singing about a toxic relationship. The choreographed movement, vibrant colours, and artificial props contrast the sadness of the song and its morbid lyrics. 

“A lot of those ideas stem from Sally, she’s the visual auteur in the band, she really likes to take the reigns on that stuff. She works with [video directors] Phil Kluba and Dan Slater,” Circosta said of the creative process behind the MONOWHALES music videos. 

As for what can be expected when MONOWHALES play the Mansion on May 31, Circosta has said that fans will hear new, un-released songs from the upcoming EP Control Freak, and maybe even snag a CD before the official release date. 

“We have some stuff that’s on the poppier side, but then we have far more aggressive stuff that we like  playing live because it’s just super intense,” he said. “‘Alive Now,’ it’s a track on the EP, it hasn’t been released yet. That was the one where Sally was crowd surfing,” Circosta said.

If that’s any indication, MONOWHALES’S stage presence and performance style are nearly as unpredictable as their experimental sound. 

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