At the tail-end of 2017, Toronto-based singer/producer Monsune (Scott Zhang) released his debut single “Nothing In Return” to little fanfare online. This was, after all, the work of a then-unknown 19-year old creator with just a few Tame Impala covers in his backlog (surprisingly, including one of “Nangs”). It wasn’t until the song and video was reposted onto 777tv, a YouTube “music discovery channel” based in Norway, that “Nothing In Return” really took off.
It’s no wonder that it did too, since “Nothing In Return” builds off of a looping sample-heavy beat that’s both joyous and infectious (some sources says it’s a mixture of Dorothy Ashby, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Skull Snaps, and Aiko, but they’re all unverified). Although this patchwork of samples (everything from funk to jazz-harp) gives the song a vintage-like feel, they’re expertly weaved together to belong in the same world–a real feat in itself. Combine all of this with Zhang’s surprisingly versatile singing voice and you get a song that’s bound to attract some attention.
And as for the self-directed video that got Zhang noticed? The simple-yet-brilliantly executed music video answers us this: how can you make filming on a playground seem cool? Armed with little more than a group of friends, a camera, and a constantly spinning merry-go-round, “Nothing In Return” proves that it’s definitely, in fact, possible. It’s charming, whimsical, and looks like it was a hell of a lot of fun to film.
Just make sure you take some Dramamine before watching it.
Li-Wei Chu is a recent graduate from UC Davis who majored in Cinema and Digital Media who also briefly studied film at Queen Mary, University of London. Li-Wei is obsessed with horror films (especially the ones that give him nightmares), films from East Asia, and really, any film that makes you stop and think.
He loves talking about film and indie music with others. He’s also a record collector and cross-stitches when he has free time. In the future, he hopes to be able to write about film and wants to find a job in the film industry that can support his record buying habits. Maybe one day he’ll also be able to play the guitar.