Quick Questions: Tin Men and The Telephone


We’re excited for our next virtual concert, this time courtesy of pioneering Dutch band Tin Men and the Telephone on Tuesday 9 June at 7pm. University of Southampton Music Showcase Intern Laura Robertson talks to the band ahead of G.R.E.A.T.E.S.T. and finds out more about how the audience participate and influence the music…


LR: You are known for breaking boundaries and being creative, how did you come up with this fully immersive concept?

TM: In 2015 we developed an app and started experimenting with audience participation. We made several interactive shows over the years constantly improving the technology. Allowing the audience to participate and asking for input on which we improvise brings us a lot of fun, and guarantees that each show is unique.

In collaboration with several partners in the UK – theater, software, and game experts – we started working on a show about climate change. When COVID-19 put everything in lockdown and tours got cancelled, I took the opportunity to prepare my studio for streaming.


LR: How would you describe your show and style to someone who has not heard of you yet?

TM: That’s always a difficult question. Some have said it’s 21st century improvised music with a strong theatrical element to it. Musically it can go to many different places and we have found that we can play for very diverse audiences and age groups.


LR: As you already had the Tinmendo app and allowed the audience to shape the music, would you say this pre-existing technology has been useful during global lockdown?

TM: It certainly has been useful, as we already had a large part of the technology ready. We actually had the plan for online concerts for a long time, and the lockdown was a perfect opportunity to work out that plan. During test shows, we did find out that quite a few of the interactions work differently than during live shows, as the audience can’t see what others are doing.

Switching to Zoom rather than YouTube or Facebook and asking the audience to switch on their webcam did solve this to a large extent. But we are constantly working behind the scene to improve the interactive experience.


LR: Do you think that interactive performances are the future of live music?

TM: I think we will definitely see an increase in interactive performances, as it turns out audiences like to be actively involved in an experience. However, not all music styles would benefit from audience participation. I would say our way of performing has a lot in common with theatre improvisation (or other art forms such as freestyle rap), in which audience input forms a crucial element of the performance. The interactive technology allows for a lot of different applications that are artistically interesting. In other styles, where audience input is not desirable, technology could still play a role to enrich the experience, but more in a supportive or informative matter.


LR: Finally, you’re trapped on a desert island for a year with just 3 items. What are they?

TM: That would be a grand piano, a laptop that can handle sun light, and swimming pants. Expect some new weird music when I come back! 🙂


Book your tickets for G.R.E.A.T.E.S.T. with Tin Men and The Telephone, Tuesday 9 June at 7pm


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