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.