Ian McKellen publicly spoke about the distress he experienced from the amount of green-screen acting he had to do while playing Gandalf in the recent Hobbit trilogy. He noted, “It’s not what I do for a living. I act with other people, I don’t act on my own.” This truth extends beyond acting to life: we live with other people, we do not live alone. Yet so much of human interaction is buffered through some form of technology. The latest release from Reliant Tom, Bad Orange, touches on just this.
Experimental music for modern times
The release focuses on the pitfalls of digital communication and the nature of modern social interaction through a unique brand of avant pop/punk. The lyrics describe an American dystopia, “[traverse] alien landscapes, [tackle] themes of depression, separation, anger, [and] introspection” while somehow aiming to end optimistically.
The faces behind the New York-based avant-pop and experimental performance art duo are composer Monte Weber and choreographer/vocalist Claire Cuny.
Eclectic backgrounds, shared purpose
Monte’s familial and musical background is Brazilian with his family hailing from the country and him initially teaching and performing Brazilian percussion. Monte states, “Reliant Tom gives me the outlet to explore both pulse driven works while maintaining the other musical elements which I find fascinating – timbre, aleatoric processes, and interactive technologies.”
Claire immersed herself in the NYC art scene starting off as a ballet dancer but eventually dabbling into bands, theatre, and song-writing. The two met at a DIY show in Brooklyn in 2015 where wearable technology, modern dance, and non-genre specific songwriting informed their sound design. The band’s instrumentation is generally comprised of electric guitar, voice, a hybrid electro-acoustic drum kit, synthesizers, as well as elements of Monte’s Kontrol Instrument.
Claire speaks about working with Monte as Reliant Tom saying, “It is very interesting to work together from our differing backgrounds. Our ultimate goal with Reliant Tom is to be a multi-media performance experience that straddles the line between pop and experimental music – and philosophizing about what that even means, and is that even possible as ‘experimental pop?’ It seems like it’s an oxymoron. I’ve learned so much from just trying to navigate this with him.”
The title track “Bad Orange” is equal parts experimental, funky, and chic agreeing with the futuristic qualities of Reliant Tom’s sound. Have a listen to the trippy track here: