Ra Black and Andrew Armstrong may have been raised in Australia, but for all intents and purposes, we refer to them as a British band. Based in London for almost a decade now, the duo is known to the general population as Monarchy, a synthpop band with a Chromeo-esque feel and a penchant for quirky, flashy videos.
Thus far most famous for their Lynch-meets-Wes-Anderson video for the song “Disintegration”, featuring Dita Von Teese as (possibly) a housewife dreaming of sexual liberation, Monarchy are a playful tandem who don’t shy away from exploring the complexities of human life while producing radio-friendly electronic tunes. The band describe themselves as “glacial pop with a throbbing undercurrent of humanity”.
Monarchy’s new single, “Hula Hoop 8000” is their first under the Warner label, and mixed by Geoff Swan, known for his collaborations with Liam Gallagher and Kasabian. The pulsating electro swank is fleshed out by Ra’s soothing tenor; the song is fully brought to life when Ra alternates to a metallic falsetto in the chorus. While melodiously multilayered and dancefloor-ready, the song never veers into hardcore electronica, allowing for casual listeners to appreciate its mellowness.
In the words of the singer Ra Black: “(the song was written) as an escape from reality. I created a fantasy about how someone would feel when they get emotionally and physically engaged with someone that suddenly appears in life. In some way, I’m always wanting to create music that makes me feel like a kid again. I’m really happy with how ‘Hula Hoop 8000’ turned out, cause it’s both authentic and fantasy.”
The accompanying video was directed by Virgili Jubero, a fashion photographer from Barcelona whose clients include Zara, Benetton, and Carolina Herrera. Jubero’s fashion background is evident throughout, as the sophisticated visuals explore the delicate interplay between voyeurism and exhibitionism in media and advertising. The cover for the single was done by the famed 3D artist and art director Kidmograph, whose long list of collaborations includes brands such as Adidas, films like Ghost in the Shell and Alien: Covenant, and bands such as Maroon 5.
Monarchy’s new album, the follow up to 2015’s Abnocto, is due for release in May 2018 – fans were given a preview of the two tracks at Monarchy’s recent headline gig at London’s Koko.