Synth-pop duo Monarchy, made up of Andrew Armstrong (producer, DJ) and Ra Black (vocals, lyrics) are back in full effect with their new dance-track “Midnight”, this follows their first single “Hula Hoop 8000” in anticipation for their 4th studio album which is to be released before summer. For the Australian but London based group, their new material is filled with pop-dance feels, all tied in with catchy lyrics and synth-dominated melodies. Seeing the reaction to “Hula Hoop 8000” and the anticipation/movement behind “mid:night”, we can expect these guys to be making noise in the summer.
The first single Hula Hoop 8000 melodically sees all sorts of bumpy synths, alongside its dancing vibes, slick/cool electro feel as well as chick and modern video clip directed/produced by Virgili jubero & Canada – it’s no wonder the track has already amassed over a million streams on Spotify, earned an Los40 Music Award and charted in Top 20 of the Spanish Airplay charts!
We had the pleasure to catch up with the band following the release of the new single “mid:night”, Andrew explaining the main inspiration behind the new album and what we can expect:
[Andrew] Musically for this one, I really wanted to take it in a slightly different direction for Monarchy, without losing what is at the essence of Monarchy. Actually, in some ways I wanted to go back to our start, with a similar sound to “Gold In The Fire”. A kind of synth wave, French touch atmosphere. I worked really hard to make the songs very consistent, making sure every song has live elements on there, bass or guitar, every song used the Jupiter 6, using retro drum machines, less tuning and more random feels. It’s a lot more analogue album than our previous albums.
[Ra] There’s a lot more of my life in the lyrics for mid:night and the album. Which has made the writing slower but ultimately more rewarding. I have a stronger desire to express the emotions and experiences I have and to be true to them.
It’s clear the French touch plays a significant part for Andrew, the funk and disco morphed with a Monarchy setting offers a refreshing take on these assembles. It hasn’t always been easy for the duo who had a temporary split in 2015, but Andrew feels they’re creating in a very different way now than previously, because of raw physics of geography as well as other dynamics. Ra also agreed that many things are different now, he thinks most humans struggle with wanting to hold on to what we have while wanting something new and it affects the music they create.
Photographer and director Van Stokkum describes “mid:night” for us: “For this video I wanted to mix two antagonistic universes such as the Amish world and the Latex one. When you combine these two elements the result is an obscure and disturbing aesthetic. Inside these two universes there is also a story happening, a forbidden love between two girls inside a bizarre and dehumanized community. The band plays for them, as music is also forbidden in the community and they go into trance and free themselves.”
I asked Ra Black how “mid:night” became a sanctuary for his mind following falling in love hard, complications in his life and which other songs on the album have brought a similar safe/calm place?:
[Ra] mid:night was the song to express a feeling of finding a sanctuary in love. Other songs on the album are stories and expressions of escape, lust, hedonism, jealousy, sex, discrimination, and cosmic glitches. I’ll be happy to talk about them with you in detail when the album comes out…
Artwork by @Kidmograph
The art direction which the duo has taken throughout the years is exemplary, this time they’ve teamed up with fashion photographer & director Alberto Van Stokkum to direct their new music video, whilst the artwork for “mid:night” was designed by Kidmograph, an amazing visual artist. I wondered whether we can expect more art-based collaborations and how important does the duo find them to be for their music:
[Andrew] We’ve always worked with artists, and yes, it’s very important for us. We worked a lot with Roy Raz on different videos, and other artists. And we’ve worked extensively with Andrew Murabito for artwork in the past which has been great. We love expressing our music through art and making sure the world of Monarchy fits together in all its parts.
[Ra] I love working with people who can bring an idea to the table that we wouldn’t have thought of. And I’m in awe of people who have devoted their lives to honing a particular skill or talent. It’s a great honour to work with such people.
Whilst we’re highly anticipating their new record, the band are pushing the gears and their new singles point out that we’re in for a treat. To wrap things up, I asked the guys what they were most looking forward to for the upcoming summer season:
[Andrew] Sunshine! And warmth. It’s been a very cold winter. But seriously, the biggest event in my mind is releasing the new album. Very excited to see that baby born into the world.
[Ra] Yes! Can’t wait to get this album out. Plus, I’m looking forward to more travel. I’m currently on a three year streak of only existing in summer.