Editors' Notes Bleached Wavves is the perfect name for a shoegaze album: deeply evocative yet highly enigmatic in equal measure. But for Daniel Monkman, aka Zoon, that seemingly vague title is loaded with significance. “The wave part can refer to waves of anxiety or waves of happiness,” he explains to Apple Music. “But the bleached part is a very personal thing for me. I can't really say it, but it's about something that happened to my auntie. When I was younger, my dad told me about something she did that involved bleach, and it's just something that stuck with me—before I understood what racism could do to someone.”

That oblique yet ominous explanation goes a long way toward illustrating what sets Zoon apart his fellow flange-pedal fetishists. Born and raised within the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation near Selkirk, Manitoba, Zoon (a riff on the Ojibway word zoongide’ewin, meaning “bravery”) has lived a highly nomadic existence that’s seen him relocate to several different cities and grapple with addiction along the way. So for him, shoegaze isn’t simply a sound—it’s sanctuary, using noise and drones as a protective shield to ward off the hardships of life. Upon settling in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2017, he settled into his aesthetic, melding his teenage obsession with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless with the rhythmic pulse and spiritual incantations of his Nation’s traditional music. “When I first heard shoegaze, I was like, 'Oh, this is something I really want to do,'” Monkman recalls. “There weren’t too many shoegaze bands around, at least in my world, living in a town of 10,000 people. But I wanted to try something different, and I thought one way that I could do it was to draw inspiration from the hypnotic drumming that Anishinaabe drummers do, because that's where my heart is.”

That fusion achieves its most potent form on “Was & Always Will Be,” a mesmerizing swirl of hand-drum hypnosis and sitar-speckled psychedelia—inspired by Monkman’s fondness for Beck’s Mutations—powered by a mantric chant in praise of Yahweh, the Anishinaabe creator. But such blissful highs are counterbalanced by more sobering portraits of the contemporary Indigenous experience. “Infinite Horizons” pairs Monkman’s bowed-guitar soundscape with a scathing anti-colonialist address from spoken-word artist Wolf B, and even an instrumental workout like “Landscapes” is layered with meaning: While its grinding, strobe-lit rhythm is meant to evoke the oppressive assembly-line clamour of Monkman’s gruelling factory day job, its title references the colonial-era artists who, as Monkman says, “used to just paint Canada as a landscape, and that's how they tricked people to come to Canada. That kind of just stuck with me, and I wanted to combine both of those emotions together into a musical piece.”

The album’s tightrope walk between dreamy ecstasy and harsh reality culminates in the grand finale “Help Me Understand,” a slow-motion noise-pop reverie that effectively feeds a starry-eyed Pet Sounds melody through a spark-shooting table saw. For Monkman, it’s a sonic metaphor for how he’s navigated life and psychological survival as an Indigenous man in modern-day Canada. “I’ve lived in all these nice Canadian cities with big, beautiful infrastructures,” he says. “But when you look at the streets in between the buildings, you always see the population that isn't thriving. In Winnipeg, it gets so cold that the homeless people—a lot of whom are First Nation—end up dying. That concept haunted me for a really long time. But after losing family members and friends, you kind of come to a truce with your understanding of death, and you understand that the physical world really does break down the human spirit under these circumstances. But once we're done with this physical world, you go off into the spirit realm, away from pain and suffering. That's what this song is about.”

Clouded Formation
Vibrant Colours
Was & Always Will Be
Bleached Wavves
A Perfect Sunset Ahead
Light Prism
Infinite Horizons [ft. Jesse Davidson]
Help Me Understand

Featured On