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Singapore, Central Singapore, Singapore | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Singapore, Central Singapore, Singapore | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Alternative Art Rock




"MONSTER CAT - Mannequins"

Monster Cat gave this EP away for free on The Pirate Bay. Also a way to draw attention to music. I decided to return the favour and blog on their new EP. Looking for some information on the band on the web, I found that another Monstercat gives away three albums on their website. Be warned, it's not the same. Here's the link if you like to check Mannequin of Monster Cat out.

Mannequin is a surprising album. To me the band and their music was a complete blank so I could step in my first listen without any prejudice. This is slightly scary as I noticed I braced myself for anything. Metal, tearjearkin' country, free jazz, anything except expecting music I totally enjoy, if I'm honest. And though the album starts with the instrumental 'Initiation' it got me into the mood for the four songs that followed. 'Initiation' starts off with an acoustic guitar, ambient noises and some spoken word in the background, before the guitar picks itself up and the rest of the band kicks in to create a fair melody, a progrock light. At the end the song also leaves it's structure again, fading into silence. Very seventies like. I haven't heard them for ages, so I could be wrong, but albums of Happy the Man and Absolute Elsewhere came to mind here.

The four songs that follow are well structured and adventurous. It's almost like the songs are afloat, lighter than their surrounding, an experience I hadn't noticed any time before in music. And then the voices float on the music. Guitars trickling like water. Musically we're on familiar ground, but the songs have an extra inner quality that surprises me. How come this very beautiful music is given away for free?

The title song has a Pink Floyd like vibe, without sounding like anything near as bombastic as the old progrockers could sound. Still the bass in 'The courier' is a dead give away on influence, but that's not the only one. Midlake also sprang to mind as an influence. Monster Cat is clearly searching for it's own sound, but has come up with a very nice atmosphere on this record, like trickling water and the murmur of a brook in a forest, the wind rustling the trees. The voice of Psycho Cat dwells quite well with me and the interaction with Hentai Cat is excellent.

Monster Cat is a five piece band from ...., well, I do not know. My best guess says the UK. It named itself after a Japanese folklore cat called "Bakeneko'. The five members named themselves after the cat, so from 'Psycho Cat' to 'Copy Cat' play in the band. As long as they render songs like the ones on Mannequin I will put aside my allergies and embrace Monster Cat. Mannequin is a very nice addition to my music collection and I am quite curious on what the next step of Monster Cat will be. - WoNo Magazine, the Netherlands

"Interview with Monster Cat for WoNo Magazine and WoNoBloG"

by Wout de Natris
© WoNo Magazine 2012

When I happened to surf the net circa two months back I ran into an offer from the band Monster Cat on The Pirate Bay offering their debut EP to the world there for free for only three days. I was totally impressed by the music the band offered as can be read here. So I decide to return the favour and offer the band some free exposure on WoNo Magazines blog. Here's the interview.

I got introduced to the band through a free download of your EP Mannequins on The Pirate Bay. Did this action fall into the marketing plan for the EP and did you get a lot of responses?
Cool. We hope you like our music. We were always trying to figure out unconventional ways to bring our music to a global audience, and we stumbled upon The Pirate Bay’s new promo mechanism The Promo Bay

The response was overwhelming. We were getting Facebook messages, Youtube comments, tweets and emails almost non-stop over the 3 days. The majority of the comments we received were very positive. We got around 150,000 unique hits over the 3-day period (most of whom we think would have downloaded the album), from 198 different countries.

We got messages from all over the world, from Brazil to Finland to Iran to India, telling us that we were doing the right thing with The Pirate Bay promotion and that they enjoyed our album. Given the comments from listeners, it was evident that they really appreciated our move to make our music free for download. In fact, it was a huge driving force for them to click on us and even make an eventual purchase.

File-sharing is a reality that involves millions of users every day. These consumer habits are here to stay, and it forces all denominations of the music industry—artists, fans, labels, distributors, and gig organizers—to re-examine how music is created,shared and enjoyed. These are the consumer habits of today and we feel that it’s a situation that has no straightforward answers and calls for creative, unexpected solutions rather than the use of moral force or the law to protect a status quo. In a way, we wanted to make a statement that music should head back in the direction where power belongs to the listeners and fans.

Let’s discuss the band first. Your bio on the website is mysterious on where you’re from and who you are. What can you tell the readers of WoNo Magazine about the band?
We are a 4-piece alternative folk-rock band, and we love cats and large furry creatures with bad tempers.

On the basis of listening to the music I thought you to be a U.K. band. Presently I think you’re from the U.S., but then I discovered the video to ‘Underwater’. I’m confused. Where are you from?
Haha. We’re from Singapore. But we believe it doesn’t matter where the music is from, as long as one likes it. That’s why we’ve never really emphasised our origin. Besides, we do hope to set up base overseas and bring our music to more listeners.

I looked up the Monster Cat story on Wikipedia. What is the link to the band’s name?
Well, we take our name from the "bakeneko"—a supernatural “monster cat” in Japanese folklore that haunts households. And there's actually an interesting story behind it. Copy Cat was home one day when he saw paw prints on the ceiling. He has a cat at home but prints on the ceiling is a whole other creepy matter. This led to us finding out about the myth of the "bakeneko", and everyone was pretty fascinated by it. This came at a time when we were thinking about a name for the band, and we felt that the haunting and primal quality of the "bakeneko" myth reflected how the music sounded well.

The first song of the album is called ‘Initiation’. Is there a relation between the title of this song and picture on the cover of the album?

Cover of EP 'Mannequins'
Interestingly, ‘Initiation’ was actually the last track that was written for our “Mannequins” EP. But it’s intended to be an introduction and ‘initiation’ to the world of MONSTER CAT. We’re pretty obsessed with myths and rituals, and it’s a subtle way of us ushering listeners into our inner circle. All the songs, song titles and visuals (album cover, booklet images) are meant to complement each other. They all help to express what “Mannequins” means to us, and what it can mean for the listener. And fun fact – the ‘mannequin’ on the album cover is a real person. A friend of a friend. Naked booty yeeha!

In my review of the album I tried to pin your music as reference to the readers. I had a hard time as it seems to go all over the place. Having listened more often, since I come up with this. Ranging from progrock, Pink Floyd, CSNY, maybe even opera in small parts of the choruses, U2 and Coldplay like guitar playing and singing like Deacon Blue. Let me stop here and hand over to you. What artists are influences to you?
Wow, that’s the first time we’ve received those references. Haha. Especially CSNY and Deacon Blue. Pink Floyd! High praise, Sir. Thank you, thank you. Our ma - WoNo Magazine, the Netherlands


Ruhig, gelassen und hypnotisch. Auf Samtpfoten wie eine Katze schleicht der Gesang um die schlichten Akkorde herum - und wie eine echte Katze verlangt er dennoch nach Aufmerksamkeit. Monster Cat sind eine Entdeckung - dank "The Pirate Bay"

Von Martin Haldenmair

Vom 15. bis zum 18. April prangte groß auf der Homepage von "The Pirate Bay" ein Banner der Band "Monster Cat". Die Band hatte ihre EP "Mannquins" dort als freien Torrent eingestellt. Ein gelungener Werbeschachzug: User aus 198 Ländern griffen auf das Banner zu, 150 000-mal wurde über den Banner auf die dahinterliegenden Informationen zum Torrent zugegriffen. Der Torrent wurde, wie bei The Pirate Bay üblich von anderen Usern wieder angeboten, kurzzeitig gab es an die 1500 solcher Seeders.

File-Sharing-Verzeichnisse wie The Pirate Bay sind bei uns aktuell häufiger mit negativen Schlagzeilen verbunden als mit positiven. The Pirate Bay indiziert und trackt sogenannte Torrents. Über diese ist es möglich, dezentral Dateien auszutauschen. Jeder Teilnehmer liefert dabei nur Stücke einer Datei (das BitTorrent-Protokoll setzt sie zusammen). So können auch große Mengen wie Filme oder Musik schnell verteilt und multipliziert werden. Wer seine Werke auf The Pirate Bay stellt, gibt also die Kontrolle ab - denn jeder kann wie sie neu ansähen und weiterverteilen. Einen halben Monat nach der Aktion sprachen wir mit Monster Cat und baten um eine Bilanz der Aktion.

Mehr über die Band und die Möglichkeit, ihre Musik zu hören finden Sie auf der nächsten Seite.

MAX Online: Copyright ist aktuell ein großes Thema. Wieso habt ihr euch entschlossen, euer Album auf The Pirate Bay zum Download freizugeben?

Monster Cat: File-sharing ist bereits tägliche Realität für Millionen von Nutzern. Diese Gewohnheit ist da und wird bleiben. Das zwingt alle Bereiche der Musik-künstler-industrie, die Fans, Labels, Verteiler und Gig-Organistaoren dazu, neu darüber nachzudeneken, wie Musik entsteht, wie man sie teilt und genießt. So sind die Gewohnheiten der Konsument nunmal und wir glauben nicht, dass es darauf eine einfache Antwort gibt. Wir glauben, dass diese Situation unerwartete Lösungen verlangt, statt den Einsattz von Moralkeule oder Gesetzesgewalt, um den Status Quo zu sichern. Das Promosystem von The Priate Bay - The Promo Bay - hat uns die Chance gegeben, von Leuten auf der ganzen Welt gehört zu werden. Wir meinten, dass wir über einen freien Torrent am besten unsere Musik mit all diesen Leuten teilen könnten. Uns ist es lieber, dass unsere Musik gehört wird. Wir sind nicht bessesen von den monetären Kosten einer Gelegenheit.

Wie haben die Leute reagiert?

Es war überwältigend. Wir bekamen die drei Tage lang fast non-stop Facebook-Nachrichten, Youtube-Kommentare, Tweets und E-Mails. Der Großteil der Kommentare war sehr positiv. Kommentare aus der ganzen Welt, von Brasilien, Finnland, Iran bis Indien, in denen es hieß, dass wir die richtige Promotion machen und dass ihnen das Album gefallen hätte.

Wart ihr überrascht?

Wir hätten nie im Leben gedacht, dass unsere Musik alle diese Orte erreichen würde. So was macht schon Angst - unsere Musik ins ungezähmte Internet zu werfen und uns ungefilterten Kommentaren und Kritiken zu öffnen. Manche Leuten haben uns über Twitter Liebeserklärungen geschickt - das war ziemlich surreal. Wir sind sehr glücklich, dass wir den Test bestanden haben. Das gibt uns das Vertrauen, dass wir mit dem was wir machen weitermachen sollen.

Und kaufen denn nun die Leute auch das Album in hoher Qualität?

Wir können glücklich berichten, dass die Absatzzahlen signifikant raufgegangen sind. Dennoch, wenn wir uns die Downloadzahlen anschauen, sind die meisten mit der freien Version zufrieden.

Nicht frei verfügbar sind ja eure echten Namen. Warum verrät ihr die nicht?

Oscar Wilde hat mal gesagt: "Der Mensch ist am wenigsten er selbst, wenn er für sich selbst spricht. Gib ihm eine Maske und er wird dir die Wahrheit sagen." Unsere zweiten Identitäten helfen uns, außerhalb gesellschaftlicher Zwänge zu existieren und ihrem Druck zu entkommen, der uns manchmal zurückhält und wegen dem wir beim kreativen Prozess Selbstzensur üben. Die Personae befreien uns davon, zu selbstbedacht zu sein. Wir meinen, dass es interessant sein würde, uns mit diesen intakten Personae der Öffentlichkeit zu präsentieren.

Außerdem wollten wir immer wie die Spice Girls sein.

Wollt ihr - als Monster Cat, nicht als Spice Girls - auch mal in Deutschland spuken?

Wir haben tatsächlich einige liebe Kommentare aus Deutschland bekommen und würden jede Gelegenheit, dort zu spielen ergreifen. Vielleicht, wenn alle unsere Hörer in Deutschland ihren Freunden von uns erzählen und uns bei ihren Events anfordern, würde was daraus werden. Letztes Jahr haben wir es geschafft, eine Japan-Tournee zu organisieren. Und Europa haben wir definitiv auf dem Schirm!

Update: Monster Cat sieht gerade tatsächlich die Chance, nach Deutschland zu kommen. Music Services Asia ver - MAX Germany

"Investigating the Abnormal Allure of Monster Cat"

By Beverly Bryan
July 30, 2012

Cat people make the best art rock. Just look at Best Coast. That’s why we knew we would love Singapore’s Monster Cat just from the name alone. The eerie, dusky melodies on the quartet’s debut EP Mannequins make for some very moody mood music, indeed. We’re quite enchanted, just like their namesake the bakeneko. Read on to find out all about that, plus what kind of music the member’s own cats are into. (These things are important.) We are delighted that they won our Artist of the Week competition, both because of their spine-tingling tunes and because that they are charming and humorous interviewees.

Tell us about Monster Cats’ fascination with cats. The band is named after one, each member of the band is named after one, and your fans are called “Kittens”. What’s up with that?

Copy Cat was home one day when he saw paw prints on the ceiling. He has a cat at home, but prints on the ceiling is a whole other creepy matter. This led to us finding out about the myth of the “bakeneko” – a supernatural “monster cat” in Japanese folklore that haunts households. Apparently, the bakeneko can be vicious and devour its owner, or it can be fiercely protective and spirit-rape the crap out of the owner’s enemies.

We loved this haunting, primal and ambiguous quality and how it reflected our music well. In general, we feel there’s very little to dislike about cats. It’s cute even when one rips into your guitar case. It’s like watching an artist at work. Little, furry, angry Iggy Pops.

Do any of you have cats? If so, what kind of music do the kitties like?

Yep. Most of us do. Psycho Cat’s stray bastard cat called Torpedo Lard is open to Refused. Copy Cat’s hellspawn apparently responds to Aphex Twin. Yes, we should be worried.

Photo courtesy of Kitty Wu Records/Credit: Martin Chua
What is “Underwater” about?

“Underwater” is, on a very basic level, a love song. But it is about a kind of love that permeates the subconscious to such an extent that it both intoxicates and haunts. It is about the struggle between embracing the beauty of such a thing and the need to destroy it.

What was the biggest musical influence on Mannequins?

One of the main themes in the Mannequins album is that of identity, which was very much inspired by a quotation by Italian surrealist writer Alberto Savinio who described the Mannequin in one of his works as a “(P)erson without voice, without eyes and without face, made of pain, of passion and joy”. It was a statement that resonated as an appropriate metaphor for the people around us and ourselves as well: individuals in search of whom they are and what to do with their lives. This struggle is central to the album, whether it is in a highly personal and romantic way or in a larger societal perspective.

What do you do when you aren’t playing music in Monster Cat?

When we aren’t making or playing music, we’re handling the business side of Monster Cat. We handle almost everything ourselves, from marketing and merchandise to initiating collaborations with artists from various disciplines. We’ve always approached Monster Cat as more than just a band, and every waking moment is dedicated to this. The digital infrastructure has obviously opened many new doors for a young bands like us, but that also means much more work to be done. Not that we’re complaining. We love posting nonsensical cat pictures, especially on Instagram. You can find us via @psychocat @hentaicat and @monstercopycat

A lot of people compare you guys to Smashing Pumpkins and Fever Ray. What do you think you sound like?

Woo. That’s tough. Smashing Pumpkins and Fever Ray are definitely influences, but we strive for our work to be as non-derivative as possible. You guys did describe us as sounding like Beirut and Nick Cave, which was unexpected but hella cool too. If we had to hazard a comparison, we’d say maybe a cross between Other Lives and Warpaint? We’re constantly striving for a progression in our sound though, so maybe you’ll hear something a little different with our upcoming full-length.

How is your second album coming?

We’ve been writing constantly, and we want to take all aspects – songwriting, arrangements, lyrics, production and the live experience to the next level. We’re aiming for an early 2013 release – so paws crossed.

We’ve already got a few new songs in the bag, ready to perform live. We’ll be playing them at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany as well as at Culture Collide Festival in Los Angeles in October. We can’t wait to see how the audience will react.

Photo courtesy of Kitty Wu Records/Credit: Martin Chua
You guys have been including a hand written note inside each LP bought. What made you think of that?

We just felt it was a really unique and valuable opportunity to connect to people on a very personal and tangible level. We’ve lost a bit of that magic in the digital era.

We thought, how awesome would it be to buy - MTV Iggy

"Beware of Singapore’s Supernatural Rockers, Monster Cat"

Name: Monster Cat

Where They’re From: Singapore

Genre: Gothy fantasy psych folk

When They Started: 2o11ish

Most Like: Beirut, Tori Amos, Nick Cave, Ava Luna

Sounds like: The stirrings of anxiety. And a stroll in a fog-ridden enchanted forest. Maybe both. Yes, both.

There’s something majorly magic happening in Singapore, thanks to the heady yet always vaguely tongue-in-cheek foursome Monster Cat. Dropping dark, atmospheric folk rock with distinct climaxes, psych rock guitar and sturdy minor keys, they’ve got a Billy Corgan seriousness about their music, and a clear predilection for the supernatural.

But they’re funny, too. Describing themselves in the following words on their site:

“hi. we love angry furry creatures, scary people in the forest and things that have the potential to get wet.”

and: “Because nothing beats enjoying music with liner notes in hand. And a kitten purring at your crotch. And as you lose yourself in the music and start to ignore the kitten, it will deface your genitals.”

For these reasons and more, we love Monster Cat.

Their band name is inspired by the folkloric Japanese creature “bakeneko,” a cat with magic powers, which are benevolent in some stories, man-eating in others. Layered harmonies — often in the form of all-out wailing — is always a part of their songs, visceral cries that alternate between pained and gorgeous. A near absence of electronics makes you feel like they narrowly escaped the Radiohead era of this sort of music, and they’re a welcomed 90s alt-gothy time capsule with subtleties you can ruminate on forever. - MTV Iggy

"Cat Out Of The Bag"

"With heart firmly affixed to sleeve, the outfit spins raw yarns of hurt, desire and angst... - weaved into moody strands of folk and alternative rock" - NYLON Singapore

"MONSTER CAT - samtig und sexy"

Die Band Monster Cat aus Singapur versteckt sich hinter Masken und produziert ganz feinen, ganz samtigen und erstaunlich heißen Folk Rock. Über The Pirate Bay wurden wir auf sie aufmerksam und haben in ihre EP "Mannequins" reingehört.

Von Martin Haldenmair

"Wer seid ihr und warum seid ihr eine Katze?" Die Frage kam uns sehr schnell über die Lippen, als wir uns mit "Monster Cat" beschäftigten. Wir bekamen eine erstaunlich lange, philosophisch und vollkommen unterspielt präsentierte Antwort. Zwischen Tiefgründigkeit und Leichtigkeit zu wechseln ist typisch für die Band aus Singapur, das sollten wir bald lernen. - MAX Germany

"The Dieline : MONSTER CAT CD Pack"

"Alternative folk rock band Monster Cat has teamed up with independent designers Izyanti Asa'ari and Alison Schooling to produce a delightfully precious CD pack for their debut EP, Mannequins.

The Mannequins CD Pack is a loose assembly of items that falls apart once the paper wrapping is undone. Its design elements compliment the album's haunting and introspective tone and with its sprinkling of cosmic geometric forms, the overall design, says Ms Schooling, 'reflects the fragile tension within consciousness and existence'.

Emphasis was paid to the choice of material used with a preference for paper and fabric that would allow for translucent show-through of the layered items. Raw yet delicate, the intention was to heighten the tactility of the final object.

'It was necessary to address the problem of validating the effort and cost of producing a physical CD pack in an increasingly digital music world,' explains Ms Izyanti. 'We wanted to create an object that despite its delicacy, was thoroughly physical in its experience. The looseness of the packaged content also allows the user to leaf through the items and experience the sequence of imagery and text in an organic manner. Our aim was for it to act as an extension of the music—consisting of items that would create links between that and someone's life and experiences.'" - The Dieline (US)

"Say Hello to MONSTER CAT"

Monster Cat, a somewhat eclectic Singapore-based rock band, has recently joined hands with KittyWu Records. By saying that they are new to the Singapore rock scene, I mean REALLY new, having been formed only earlier this year.

Monster Cat’s message is clear- societal liberation. Like most good art, their music is born out of frustration and fear. And since these emotions are so genuine, so true, MONSTER CAT can confidently hope for a strong fan following.

Their first EP “Mannequin” is shockingly wrenching, and the music leaves you wondering. Being a huge fan of rock music, I claim to really understand the pain within – “Underwater” ended up leaving me breathless, and it was not just because of the name.

Singapore can expect a great new style of music in its rock scene. Keep a look out for concerts and new songs from this band that KittyWu Records is really excited about. Well, KittyWu, we can assure you that you’re not the only ones.

Don’t forget to check out their website here to get to know more about them. Let’s welcome our newest cats! - FEVERAVENUE

"POWER OF POP Interview - MONSTER CAT (Part 2)"

BACKSTAGE after the gig, a flurry of conversation has descended, not unlike the excited chatter of children coming off a roller coaster as they relive the past few minutes in their memories.
Being here as we are at Zouk for the Sport B. Plugged Asian Music Festival 2011, the term backstage is a bit of a misnomer; really we are at a cordoned off section of the club, with only a curtain to protect our privacy.

That’s not stopping any of the band members from fiercely dissecting what went right–and what went wrong–with the gig earlier on.

“We were already having problems with the system during the soundcheck earlier on, though we were hoping it wouldn’t come back during the actual show,” says keyboardist and co-vocalist Black Cat, speaking with an animation that is quite contrary to her languid body language on stage.

“There wasn’t really an ‘oh-shit‘ moment for us on stage because of that, even though the feedback was really bad, and Psycho Cat couldn’t hear his guitar at all. You just have to pretend it’s part of the show though; you can’t show any panic to the audience.”

Black Cat goes on to break down the performance, visibly wincing as she talks about the vocal performance aspect of the show. Unfortunately for the band, Black Cat had passed on a virus to frontman Hentai Cat before the show, one serious enough to pose difficulties for the two singers in the band.

True enough, midway through our chat Black Cat gets up and apologises before rushing off to the washroom.

In the midst of all the bustle is the quietly exhausted Psycho Cat, sitting wordlessly on the couch with the hood of his jacket flipped up to shield his face, his neck resting on his guitar’s.

I focus on this image for a while, shutting out the noise and putting the surroundings into blur for a second, admiring the mise-en-scène of this particular moment, wishing, not for the first time, that I was a photographer instead of a writer.

Band manager Errol Tan soon comes along to break Psycho Cat’s reverie, all business-like, efficiently conducting a debrief of the gig while at the same time updating them briskly about their upcoming Esplanade show.

The band members trade wisecracks, and then as quickly as it was convened, the debrief breaks up into a flurry of packing.

The club is clearing rapidly now, the music festival well and truly over. It’s still too early in the night for Zouk to morph into a party haven, which leaves us with the curious and sad sight of an empty venue.

Stripped of the beautiful people, the dance floor looks pitifully forlorn, beckoning ineffectually with its lights and smoke for bodies to come hither.

In a few hours‘ time, it will be business as usual for Zouk, with alcohol-fueled strangers pressing tight against each other in time to the pounding subterranean rhythms.

It will be all too easy then for one to slip into the crowd and feel lost in humanity and hedonism. Right now, though, in the empty bricks and mortar, all one feels is alone.

TWO weeks later, we are charging down the corridors of the Esplanade backstage, preparing ourselves for the Monster Cat invasion of the Bay.
Tonight marks the second day of Spread The Love, an event which will also see the likes of Inch Chua and B-Quartet gracing the same stage.

There is nothing unremarkable in the air, but this is something of a game-changing weekend for local scene buffs, with Inch soon to leave the country for greener shores and B-Quartet about to take an extended, indefinite break.

Earlier on I had met up with the band at the Outdoor Theatre, where they were conducting the post-mortem of their soundcheck with friend and Leonard Soosay, going over minor technical details while the band members stood in a circle smoking.

After that was done with the programme had proceeded swiftly: backstage to the dressing room to dump their stuff, then dinner.

Because I am technically not a member of their entourage, we have opted for the rock and roll thing to do, sneakily smuggling me past the Pearly-Gates-strict security of the Esplanade, where once again the security guard gave me a suspicious once-over before letting me through.

(It seems I have no luck with guest passes, legit or otherwise.)

As we march past the checkpoint and into the elevator, I ask the band if this particular performance holds any special significance to them, seeing as how it was their rejection from Baybeats that kickstarted this whole meowmeow shebang.

Hentai Cat shrugs.

“It’s not very special, honestly. We’ve all played here before with our respective previous bands, so for us to play here again as Monster Cat doesn’t make much of a difference. I suppose Baybeats might be something else because of the glamour around it, but tonight is just like any other night for us.”

Be that as it may, that doesn’t stop the band from trooping into the dressing room with the glee of school-kids.

Black Cat heads straight into the luxuriously - POWER OF POP

"POWER OF POP Interview - MONSTER CAT (Part 1)"

I’m MIDWAY through my first ever Monster Cat gig, and things are not going too well.

The already incongruous sight of a rock band in full flight on the dance floor of local superclub Zouk is being compounded by a decidedly unwelcome screech of feedback.

The explanation is almost comically sci-fi, according to frontman Hentai Cat, 26: apparently, the electromagnetic waves from the strong neon lights on stage are creating a magnetic interference playing havoc with the electric guitars.

I am here with fellow PoP writer CJ, and there is something inexorably fascinating about watching a band struggle to fit into a system that is trying to spit them out, trying to expel the foreign bodies transplanted into its midst.

It’s the alchemy of a rock band trying to turn lead into gold, and slowly but surely the song is beginning to gel. Halfway through I turn to shout to CJ, who is standing by my side. As we are, though standing in front of the speaker stacks, he doesn’t hear anything, and besides he is already transfixed.

I turn my attention back to the stage, where Hentai Cat is busy bellowing into the mic, his voice struggling to find its key in the midst of the metal machine music.

Midway through however, he catches my glance and lets slip a grin and a wink.

Suddenly the mood shifts; suddenly the weight lifts. For a moment we are fearless.

A FEW weeks earlier, I am with three-fifths of the band at the Starbucks outlet at Liang Court, dancing our way through the pleasantries of an interview over cups of coffee, acoustic guitars propped against the table.

As far as first dates go, we are halfway between tentative and natural. Not too bad.

Away from the glamour of stage lights, Hentai Cat cuts a marked different figure: long, shoulder length hair dragged back into a low ponytail, a pair of black glasses softening his face, a loose, nondescript grey cotton tee hanging off his skinny frame.

He speaks slowly, he listens attentively, he sits on his hands, rocking back and forth in searching pauses before answering questions. He resembles more of a timid bohemian art teacher in desperate need of a haircut than a rock star.

We start off by talking about the Monster Cat band name and identity, which originated in the depths of Japanese folklore.

Believed to possess supernatural powers such as shapeshifting and fireball-casting, it was the legendary bakeneko (literal translation: monster cat) which inspired the band to take on their unique moniker. This unconventional approach, however, only really ignited after Baybeats–or rather, after the band was rejected from Baybeats.

Lead guitarist Psycho Cat, 27, explains: “It was a kick in the butt because by default, we had assumed we were going there, taking the typical Singaporean band route: play at Baybeats, release an EP, release an album…”

The rejection derailed the band’s original long-term plans. Nevertheless, it proved to be the catalyst for a radical re-imagining of the band’s entire approach to the industry.

Hentai Cat says: “We were forced to find our own voice. Everything weird started from there.”

Everything weird included pseudonyms which the band would hide behind: one will find no trace of the band’s real names or faces in the digital media kit that was sent out.

It’s that age-old Oscar Wilde adage about the mask revealing the man again, then.

I put it to the band that they hide behind pseudonyms because it allows them to express themselves fully without being tied to their domestic selves.

There is a brief pause before Hentai Cat agrees and answers.

“The band didn’t really exist until we found the Monster Cat identity, which is based around the idea that in the creative process, no one’s really normal.

“It’s also partially a way for me to detach myself from the music. I was a huge fan of Ronin when Levan (Wee, then-frontman of Ronin) was with them, and when he started Astroninja I followed them too.

“I’m not directly influenced by them in terms of music, but they’ve affected the way I relate to the audience. I remember Dong (the lead guitarist of Astroninja) mentioning to me before about how the audience looks up to you.. There is a certain illusion that the musician is infallible, that he stands for certain ideals.

“What we wanted to do was allow people to hear the music without having preconceptions about who we were–in a way, it allows us to disappear behind the music, it allows the music to take centre stage.

“You become a slave to the music, to a larger story.”

Still, the quirkiness of their alter-egos almost serves as false advertising for the record proper.

While their Facebook page is peppered with cheeky and offbeat posts (a video of Jedi kittens being the latest), their debut EP, Mannequins, is instead shot through with surrealism and angst, inhabiting a Kundera-meets-Murakami world that is sketched out and coloured by layers of moody soundscapes.

Nor were the themes l - POWER OF POP

"Feline Amalgamation | KittyWu x MONSTER CAT"

For those of you who’ve read our review of the Arms and Sleepers gig on the 9th of June (if not, you probably should; just a suggestion. Well actually you should read it right now, but we’re not trying to be obnoxious about it) you’ll know we were immediately enamoured by the introspective and enigmatic musical offerings of the local opening act, MONSTER CAT.

Despite the name, MONSTER CAT are far from pussies. Taking inspiration from artists ranging from The Smashing Pumpkins to Fever Ray, MONSTER CAT’s imitation of these artists fails in a profoundly awesome kind of way and has instead created a sound that is distinct, poignant and all their own.

Formed early this year, they have gone on not just to open for US ambient electronic act Arms and Sleepers, but have also released their EP Mannequins where questions, doubts and personal fears were the foundation for the band’s debut release. The title track ‘Mannequins’ best sums up the band’s musical style: textured, intense and evocative.

KittyWu Records, on the other hand, was formed way back in 2007 to cater to the growing demand for electronic and instrumental experimental rock in Singapore. KittyWu Records focuses on electronic pop and instrumental rock, but also welcomes other progressive music genres into the family.

Naturally, things fell into place. With talent like that, how could it not? KittyWu Records are now a proud mama all over again and have welcomed MONSTER CAT into their furry kitty arms. We’re really happy for you guys! Although we’re a little bummed that you didn’t invite us to the baby shower.

- Jolin / ActuallyMag - ActuallyMag

"BEST LOCAL RELEASE // JUICE Magazine Best Of Show"

JUICE Magazine 2011 Best of Show

Even at first listen, MONSTER CAT's Mannequins EP stuns with sounds both familiar and challenging, underpinned by harmonies so lush and layered that your heart skips a beat. A truly great record from sleeve to song.

- JUICE, Dec 2011 - JUICE Magazine, Singapore

"Music Alliance Pact - May 2011 Issue"

It intertwines like a ball of yarn unraveling as feline claws playfully pounce upon their five-track debut EP Mannequins. The guilty party is collectively known as Monster Cat, who at first mention do not hint at their psycho-folk-rock tendencies. Yet, as you sink deeper into their depravity, it starts to make perfect sense. Mannequins is a bold debut that bares all and holds nothing back, along with all the vulnerability of a gentle kitten. You can download their EP for free via their website during the month of May and pledge your allegiance. - Brian. - I'm Waking Up To

"MONSTER CAT, Hello Kitty"

“...dynamic, fey and introspective... folk rock wonder that conjures the
autumnal demons lurking underneath” - JUICE Magazine

"Mannequins: Review: 3 and half / 5 Stars"

“...a switchblade between sudden bursts of clangour and lazy, fluvial chills. - The Straits Times

"MONSTER CAT - Mannequins Review"

The long-form explanation for MONSTER CAT’s name is a mystical affair involving Japanese folk-tales and myths, but we prefer the short-attention span answer. MONSTER CAT loves cats. Really fat ones.

Now that that’s out of the way, the vital details, then, quickly: The band members of MONSTER CAT are Hentai Cat, Psycho Cat, Black Cat, Copy Cat, Zen Cat and Paper Cat, with the band’s name always in caps (because fuck you, Google Chromebook). Having already been featured once in legendary local producer Leonard Soosay’s Snakeweed Sessions in May, the new KittyWu recruits have followed up that burst of publicity with the release of Mannequins (itself also a Soosay production).

Interestingly enough, the record proper features none of the humour hinted at by their quirky pseudonyms. Instead, Mannequins is a mellow, fragile affair, shivering with sex and soul as well as nuanced emotion. Beginning with the aptly-named opening track, Initiation, we dive head-first into a measured instrumental piece that is deliberate in its atmospheric build-up. Title track Mannequins then introduce us to the EP’s central theme; under a bed of stark, urgent folk-rock instrumentation, the band launches into a lyric inspired by Italian writer Alberto Savinio that is frightening in its desperation.

The rest of this short EP takes its cue from the first two tracks: having opted for fragile, articulated melodies over instant pop hooks, the band spends the rest of its time building up and refining the ambient atmospheres, laying claim to the texture and drama of influences like Fever Ray and Smashing Pumpkins. Underwater is a particular masterpiece of arrangement and production. At once both intimate and claustrophobic, the track shimmers with a kind of midnight blue reminiscent of Miles Davis. In its spiritual eroticism Mannequins presents us a refreshingly intimate and private perspective not often heard from local shores; The Courier, for example, is a love supreme unto itself, a moment stolen from the bed of two lovers soulful and hot.

By the time the EP closes on the quiet and intense number, These Hands, you ought to have realised that this is one of the best warning shots ever fired by a local band. One would do well to keep an eye on the strange and brilliant animal that is MONSTER CAT.

(Samuel C Wee)
- Power Of Pop

"A-Z Of Singapore Music"

“Haunting moody vocals against lush, delicate keys and distorted mysterious guitars seep into the consciousness, evoking deep feelings of pain and confusion.” - Time Out Singapore


Mannequins - EP - 2011

The Violet Hour - LP - 2014 (Release: 3 March 2014)



Born out of frustration, MONSTER CAT is a reaction to a culture of shackling life templates and suffocating social expectations. An avalanche of questions, doubts and personal fears was the breeding ground for the bands debut release, Mannequins.

From the dramatic intent of The Smashing Pumpkins to Fever Rays visceral force of myth and music, the five-piece tries its best to imitate these artists but fails spectacularly. Creating instead, a sound that is all their own.

MONSTER CAT takes its name from the bakeneko, a cat with supernatural abilities in Japanese folklore. It is said a bakeneko will haunt any household it is in, menacing sleepers, walking on its hind legs, even devouring its owner and shapeshifting to take his place.

Yet, there are also stories that depict the bakeneko as a fiercely protective and loyal creature, readily sacrificing its life for its owner.

The band is inspired by this sense of the supernatural, the fascinating ambiguity of this relationship between creature and owner, stricken with a nature that is gentle yet volatile.

The shorter explanation would be that the band loves cats. Really fat ones. They also get turned on by other furry creatures, very dead philosophers and things that have the potential to get wet.

Last but not least, MONSTER CAT wants to eat your foetus.

Band Members