It’s been a decade since Ra Black and Andrew Armstrong, two Australian-bred electronica aficionados, became naturalized Londoners and immersed themselves into the contemporary electropop scene under the name Monarchy. Having recently switched to Warner, the band seems to have been imbued with a fresh sense of urgency to create, and the fans are all the more thankful for that.
Their previous single, “Hula Hoop 8000“, broke the Top 20 of the Spanish Airplay charts, and now the video for “mid:night” is here to announce the upcoming, as yet untitled, release, which will be released “before summer”, in the band’s own words. The playful synth tune provides an instantly gripping xylophone hook and is all but made for radio, though it does sneak up to you with a whiff of neat melodic sparsity, typical for the French electronic scene. It comes as no surprise that Armstrong is a fan: “I’ve always listened to a lot of synths, especially the cross between synth and pop. So older acts like the Cure, Eurythmics, New Order, but then newer acts, like Yuksek, Todd Terje, Kaytranada, Parcels, L’Imperatrice, Harvey Sutherland, Polo and Pan. I really love the French sound the most, the French touch. I’ve even been getting into Jean-Michel Jarre lately.”
If the tune itself is a jovial ode to love and positive energy, a trademark “summer jam”, the video, as is typical for this duo, is a different story entirely. Featuring Ra Black covered in glitter and congregating what seems to be a group of Amish wearing BDSM bondage latex, on a farm, coupled with a tale of forbidden love between two young women, the visuals are admittedly hilarious, but also purposefully dissonant. The director, fashion photographer Alberto Van Stokkum, said he intended to “mix two antagonistic universes” and “create an obscure and disturbing aesthetic”; the band’s performance on the remote farm, in the end, is an act of liberation from the shackles of traditionally accepted behavior. Monarchy’s previous video, which featured Dita Von Teese, also deliberately balanced the imagery between grotesque and humorous without ever being overly provocative or tacky.
“I’ve never thought of a music video as subservient to the music. I think of them as two separate pieces of art where the music is an influence on the video. As for the “purpose” of music or music videos, I do like how art can be a very effective form of influence. It can get in under people’s consciousness radar and gently nudge opinion,” said Black for PopMatters.
On the other hand, Armstrong believes each new single gives them the opportunity to steer away from the conventional tropes used in most visuals: “We always have a story behind our visuals, or in fact everything we do. We never want a lyric that is about nothing. The videos are the same. We want a purpose to it, that syncs with the song. I guess we’re slightly perverted as people, and we don’t want to stay on the boring tropes that have been peddled a million times in videos. It’s great to explore new ideas and new ways of expressing ourselves. Also, sometimes it comes directly from the video directors. Although we get to choose who we work with, I think they get inspired by our previous videos and can understand what we are about, and are excited to explore something that another band or record label might be shy about. So we are lucky to work with really great directors.”
Monarchy’s upcoming album will be announced in the following months. The artwork for the single cover was created by Kidmograph.