Mong Tong’s Vast Array of Influences
The psychedelic music duo describes the stories, eras, and sounds that shape their unique style.
For those who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe it to them? How would you finish the sentence “Mong Tong is ___” or “Mong Tong’s music is ___”?
“Mong Tong's music is heavily influenced by Southeast Asian culture, including its mythology and folklore, as well as sixties and seventies psychedelic music.”
As brothers, did you grow up listening to similar music? How have each of your music tastes changed over the years?
Hom Yu: I have always been digging different genres of music, but now I’m interested in those who combine their own culture really well [with] their work.
Chi: Before [age] 18, [my favorites were] heavy metal [and] classic rock. [Between the ages of] 18-22, [my favorites were] indie music [and] psychedelic rock. [From age 22 to now, my favorites have been] ambient [and] world music.
When did you first decide to become a band?
We didn’t play music together until 2017, after both of us moved to Taipei. For us, it was not like becoming a band but brothers having fun together. The greatest thing is that we don’t need to negotiate with other band members, [and we] can actually do everything super fast [with] only the two of us.
Can you explain the different meanings of your band name depending on the language it is translated into?
We are still collecting interesting meanings of “Mong Tong” from different languages. [It means] “blindfolded” in Mandarin [and] “looking gold” in Thai.
What words or phrases best describe Tao Fire 道火?
A very nice addition to every music library, Mong Tong again explores different folk sounds across Austronesia.
How does Tao Fire 道火 differ from your previous albums?
We continued creating Taiwanese psychedelic music but also focused more on Southeast culture and sound, such as gamelan music, phin guitar, tabla drums, and sounds from the streets of Southeast Asia.
What was the most fun part of making Tao Fire 道火, and what was the most difficult?
During the making of the album, Hom Yu was listening to old-school 2000’s nu-metal bands, so he was like, “How about mixing the whole percussion part like the way they mix the guitars?” Sounds pretty ridiculous, but the results [were] satisfying. The song “Areca” was really hard to write and produce, and we spent so much time arranging and redoing everything more than three times, but after finishing it, we [became] really proud of it!
How did you choose “Forest Show” and “Tropic Sub” to be the singles off of Tao Fire 道 火? Was it difficult to choose which songs would be pre-released?
Before the album was released, we played it to our manager and a few friends, and the most-loved song was “Forest Show.” As for “Tropic Sub,” with more drumbeats and less guitars and bass, we were challenging our fans with a different kind of Mong Tong. It certainly took some time to decide, but it was not that difficult to choose the first two singles.
Who or what inspires your music the most?
Some of our favorite labels, such as Nyege Nyege Tapes, VILL4IN, and Multi Culti are so great. You can [tell] their music and visual designs are so connected, complete, and stylish.
Can you explain the ways you have been influenced by mythology and folklore?
From “Taiwan Mystery” to “Indies 印,” we [bring] various local sounds into our music. Every culture has its own charisma and uniqueness, so we recall our childhood memories to recreate scenes with sounds and musical compositions.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
We hope to start our first U.S. tour within the next couple of years. [As for] long-term goals, if we [could] have a world tour every year, that would be perfect.
Check out Mong Tong’s new album here!
Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity. Photo courtesy of Mong Tong.