By Lucio F
Your Underground is a clear representation of Monokino’s knack for quirky yet engaging songwriting. A smooth mix of alternative pop, indie and rock and electro vibes.
The rather eclectic Dutch pop composer George van Wetering, AKA Monokino has built a significant following in Asia and North America and shares with us his thoughts on the new track, releasing songs in Mandarin Chinese and today’s music industry.
It’s interesting, sometimes bizarre and most of the time quite difficult to work in China.
You’ve released single ‘Your Underground’, can you tell us about the themes contained within the song?
In the song I describe an underground scene that does exactly those things that are expected from them – you can already see blindly what the next step will be, until they go so far as to blow it apart, a scene that gets angry when you say they’re not for real. As a kid I used to think that everyday life would have more value if I was part of some sort of alternative scene – but pretty soon I was more concerned with brand clothing and a certain image that subconsciously belonged to that group. And I think we should realize that it’s still happening around us. As soon as a movement is internalized by a higher power, you end up with powerlessness – which is made worse when you find yourself in a scene that excludes people and bases information on tools created by the music industry. What is actually new and exciting is skipped while, what needs to be sold is promoted as something new. It serves the big players in the musicbiz to promote artists being valuable to some underground community (either created or real) because of some Spotify playlist nowadays. There must be more interesting things artists can tell, right?
How does the writing process work when coming up with new material?
Usually, everything goes by itself, I often know what I want – but sometimes I haven’t really mastered certain producer techniques yet and then I think the Pippi Longstocking mentality really works well: ‘I’ve never done it, so I think I can do it’. I have this problem sometimes: I think if I were someone who could play the guitar really well, I’d still think I can’t play the guitar. But there’s something non-committal in that quote and it’s sweet: if it doesn’t work out today – that’s okay too. Later when I found out that that quote wasn’t from her at all, I felt a little bit sad.
Has the pandemic had an impact on the art you create?
Yeah, I didn’t know I could be so lazy and live so unhealthily. And that I could be so obsessed with the news! And that there are so many people with opposing views, and that when you see them again in real life, it’s not at all that bad. It was often a battle between serious-sounding experts and casual semi-experts who also all have huge egos. And then all those talk shows on TV for a year! I didn’t think it was a fun period and I’m glad it’s sort of over. However, I never fully understood that people become depressed from not being able to go to the office. I’m ignoring everything related to Corona and covid that makes the news at the moment. Sometimes the question ‘yes, but what about corona’ pops up when you see all the supporters in the football stadium now, but I’ll quickly put that away. So yeah, I guess I’m a professional-looking-the-other-way kinda guy for now. Usually, art has more of an impact on me when I see it outside of my house – I’m glad I can go to the movies again, and see bands play live.
As an artist based between Holland and China, how do these cultures influence the kind of music you produce?
It’s interesting, sometimes bizarre and most of the time quite difficult to work in China. Once there was a really great scene developing and the people who started it, really started with nothing, without local or government support. The situation is very different now, I think many know why. Most people I worked with were very adaptable, extremely entrepreneurial, and filled with passion and I am definitely influenced by that. This year I also released a song in Mandarin Chinese.
How has the music industry changed since you began playing in bands?
Yes, we live in a time when some famous artists suddenly drop an entire album online, and viral and TikTok are frequently used words. What I personally find striking is that there are fewer and fewer rock bands, more solo artists. Kpop members are given their own image by fans, but time when we talk about the members of a rock band, the genre seems a bit over.
Where do you think your music fits in today’s world?
I think it’s music for outsiders who are open to different styles.
What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
There will be many new songs coming up!