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[Band Uprising] Monni feeds its greed with ‘Follow My Voice’

Rock band returning with first studio album in three years

As the Korean music market is beginning to receive more international recognition, the local band scene is looking to rise up and represent the next generation of Korean music. This is the second installment of a series of interviews with Korean rock, acoustic and alternative bands. ― Ed. 

The band name itself says all about the four members of rock band Monni ― the musicians all have an insatiable thirst for quality music.

Monni derives from a Korean term for greed, and is representative of the bandmates’ desire, hunger and passion for their music.

“I was reading the newspaper one day and I saw the word ‘monni’ and I immediately felt that it fit the image of our band, because the simply truth is, we are all greedy for good music,” said lead vocalist Kim Shin-eui during an interview with the band at a small coffee shop near Hongdae.

Monni officially debuted as a band in 2005 with its first studio album “The First Day, the Light.” Since then, the band has slowly climbed out of the small-time local club scene to play at some of the country’s most popular summer rock festivals.

And even after nearly 10 years, the artists still consider their debut album’s lead single “Sudden Rain” as their most quintessential song.

“I think of ‘Sudden Rain’ as the one single that truly represents who we are as a band,” said Kim. “When people think of Monni, I think they think of ‘Sudden Rain.’” 
Monni. (Modern Boy Record)
Monni. (Modern Boy Record)

Although the band has recently been better known for its slower, more laid-back sound, “Sudden Rain” introduced Monni as a band with a vibrant, youthful appeal. The single brilliantly highlights lead singer Kim’s ability to reach high octaves, which at first seemed unlikely with the unconventional “pull-back” manner of his voice.

During the band’s live performance of its debut single on the battle-of-the-bands reality program “Top Band 2” on KBS two years ago, there were several moments when Kim’s voice looked like it would be incapable of reaching any higher, but he just continued to bellow out in climatic fashion and rallied the young crowd.

It has been nearly three years since Monni has released a full studio album, but the bandmates promised that their upcoming release “Follow My Voice” would make people want to stand up and rock.

“I think this time around, the album is a lot more entertaining and exciting,” said bass player Lee In-kyung. “We really strived to produce tracks that are more dynamic and more upbeat hoping to show people a little different side to us.”

“Our new songs are fresh,” said guitarist Gong Tae-woo. “We have got a lot of songs that are going to sound great during a live show, especially during the music festivals. The audience is going to rock out.”

The members of Monni produced a total of 30 songs, which they narrowed down to 11 for their fourth studio album slated to be released on March 18. The single “Dotnaeyo” will be released on March 11.

“We had previously left our old management company so that we could create our own music and reinvest our personal passion into songs that we could truly call ours,” Kim explained.

“I think one of the biggest positives about us is our lyrics; we are not just writing to write, we put a lot of thought and effort into what we would like to express. Especially nowadays with so many songs that just talk about love, we try to go beyond that and also touch upon life in general.”

Gong added, “When people are listening to our songs, I want them to really feel a connection and say to themselves, ‘This song is about me. This is my story.”

Monni will be putting on a number of live solo concerts in commemoration of the band’s upcoming album including performances at the Yongsan Art Hall in Seoul on April 4-6. The band will then head to perform in Daegu and Busan before returning to Seoul and hosting two more shows at the Sangsang Madang on April 26-27.

By Julie Jackson (