See: Zoon – ‘Was & Always Will Be’: mantric First Nation shoegaze

Daniel Glen Monkman, aka Zoon, photographed by Vanessa Heins

ZOON is an artist who’s fully busting it up Stateside, and you can so see why when you go swimming in the deep guitar scorch of his new single “Was & Always Will Be”, which we’ve embedded for you below.

Zoon is the musical guising of Daniel Monkman, a Hamilton, Ontario-based musician in love with the guitar and all the blurry, delicious noise it’s capable of. He’s of First Nation blood – which led to an intense and horrible period of bullying in his teens, in turn meaning Daniel turned to drugs and booze to blur a sharp-edged, clawing reality. His best friend died of an overdose; Daniel nearly followed him on multiple occasions. Therapy, and music, saved him.

The name his makes music under? It’s a contraction of the Ojibway word ‘Zoongide’ewin’, meaning “bravery, courage, the Bear Spirit.”

Zoon’s debut album, Bleached Wavves, arrived last summer, and contained trippily off-kilter shoegazing such as “Landscapes” and Brokenhead, fierce with guitar abrasion and bends, very much following on from My Bloody Valentine – the delicious dream torrent of sound. Actually, with tongue partially in cheek and acknowledgement of his First Nation status, Daniel refers to his soundscaping as “moccasin-gaze”.

“Was & Always Will Be” was actually one of the last tracks Daniel brought to the record. 

“In our Ojibway tradition and something my mom taught me is that when the Creator has been good to you or has blessed your life you should always honour that,” Daniel says. 

“Ways to do that are helping others in need or being mindful in your everyday life or in living the ‘good life’.

“For ‘Was & Always Will Be’ I wanted to show that gratitude so I chant ‘Yahweh’ throughout the song, which is an indigenous word for ‘creator’

“The first traditional song I learned as a child had the chant ‘Yaaahweh Yaaahweh, Yahweh ho’ and that rhythm followed me everywhere I went and undoubtedly transferred into my music as an adult. 

“Whether you believe in a Creator or not, it’s hard to miss the beautiful things that happen in life; so it’s always good practice to show gratitude.” 

Zoon had a vision of incorporating a sense of flight to the accompanying video, embedded below; something director John Smith also intuited from the song’s heady glide.

“I was experimenting with different visuals to represent this song, then Daniel came to the table with this great drone footage that his friend had shot — I really just ran with that,” he says John. 

“I was able to dig a bit more into the traditional ‘psychedelic’ style of editing and colour palettes that I think you can only get away with when you pair it with a wonderfully hypnotic song such as this one.

“If you ever wondered what it might feel like to have a helicopter-esque outer body experience in 1978, this is probably the music video for you.”

Zoon’s Bleached Wavves is available digitally and on CD via Paper Bag Records – the vinyl has long sold out – here.

Connect with Zoon on FacebookTwitterSpotify and Instagram.

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