59.8 F

Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Couch Concert: MONDAIJI

Problem child turned college student — and band 


By RUMA POUDELL — arts@theaggie.org


From meeting at a UC Davis Jamming Crew event to performing at Turtle House and numerous other venues, MONDAIJI [problem child] is steadily growing its presence in the Davis community and beyond. 

 Adam Maru, the band’s leader, has been working on music since early 2019. 

“I had music written, everything was ready to be played, and I just wanted to have people to play it with and work on it,” Adam said.

After a one-year hiatus from attending Jamming Crew meetings, Adam returned and just so happened to bump into MONDAIJI’s future lead guitarist, Michael, and drummer, Santiago Milano. From there, the three agreed to work together, and subsequently found keyboardist Elijah Hung and guitarist Shiyu Ji.

“I actually remember the first rehearsal we did,” Santiago said. “We played something for ten minutes. And it was really good. We didn’t expect us to have a jam that was that cohesive.”

Santiago remembers that at the time, some of their friends who were at the rehearsal even asked, “How long have you guys been playing together?” to which he exclaimed, “15 minutes!” 

Upon hearing how quickly the band’s sound came together, you probably wouldn’t expect the diversity in each of the band member’s music tastes. Michael enjoys hard rock. HElijahung enjoys KPOP, funk and R&B. Shiyu also enjoys R&B. Santiago is a sucker for jazz. Adam is heavily influenced by Japanese artists. 

The cohesiveness of the band arises from a common goal though, according to Michael.

“Adam is our creative leader,” Michael said. “He came to us with this vision […] That gives us a creative framework and focus […] and then we get to support that in our own unique ways.”

The name of the band is derived from “mondaiji,” a Japanese word meaning “problem child,” according to Adam. 

“The narrative of our band is kind of just that we’re a bunch of misfits in a way — not in a heinous or malicious manner — we just want to play music together but be a little unhinged sometimes,” Adam said. “Part of that narrative is that [we’re] a kind of villain in [our] own [lives] and think we’re playing parts of delinquents in a way.”

When asked how they would describe their style, the band said that this is the one thing they disagree on, but if they had to, they would use the phrase “sentimental emo bops,” as displayed in their Instagram bio. 

Every aspect of the band’s identity is managed internally. From the marketing and their social media aesthetic to recording songs — it’s all done by the band members themselves in Adam’s apartment. Santiago called it a “DIY [Do it yourself] aesthetic.” 

When first forming the band, MONDAIJI’s members didn’t expect to gain as much of a following as they have.

“The turnout is always so good. We see the heads and people mashing together,” Siyu said. “People really support us. This is why I’m really glad to be a part of this band.” 

He said the group was expecting about eight people to come to their first show, but they were thrilled to see over 100 people in the audience. 

The members described playing together as “sentimental,” “very personal [and] very energetic,” an “emotional release,” “honkytonk,” “wholesome” and “so much fun.” Getting to play at Turtle House, a co-op in the Davis community known for hosting local bands, “felt like everything we had been doing had come to fruition,” according to Adam. 

Being in the band has brought each member together “like a family,” Michael said. 

MONDAIJI was Elijah’s first introduction to rock and has been a creative push for him, and he said that he had “to get a little creative with what [he] play[ed] for the band.” 

The band ended off The California Aggie’s interview by saying, “Ever since our first show there’s been this energy […] There’s an enthusiastic attitude towards the creative process now.” 

Listeners can expect MONDAIJI to drop a new EP soon. To support them, follow their Instagram (@mondaijiband), stream their songs and catch them at their next show.


MONDAIJI was featured in a Couch Concert with The Aggie on March 11, 2023. The video from the concert will be posted to The Aggie’s YouTube channel. 


Written by: Ruma Poudell — arts@theaggie.org