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TV Queens – Photo Credit: Chris Corn Photography
Dayton, Ohio’s resident New Wave/synth-pop/electro-soul trio TV Queens have released an enticing, ’80s-vibed single, and while you listen, deep in the throes of weepy catharsis, it will leave you asking: “Is my Walkman waterproof or just water-resistant?”
TV Queens stars Nathan Peters and Maria Dixon on vocals and Darryl Robbins on the “other stuff” which one imagines must involve synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, several Lite-Brites, a Tiger handheld electronic basketball game, and a Rubik’s Cube with only the blue side completed.
Because none of us can wait for their upcoming full album, TV Queens has decided to slake our thirst just the slightest bit with a new single entitled “Reverence.”
This track starts like a slow burn ‘80s-style police flick with a heavy nod to Tears for Fears. Spacey synths join with Peters and Dixon’s soulful harmonies and maintain the reverent tone as the song builds tension. If there’s a space church, it probably sounds like this.
You know the scene in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when the Wyld Stallyns go to the future and everything is excellent? It sounds like that. By the time the second verse hits, the listener is treated to electro drums and a syncopated reggae bassline coming online and providing some serious groove.
The outro features the sonic release of a screaming, yet understated guitar solo. Nothing fancy, just soulful—reverent even. It’s not Prince (nothing is Prince), but it’s somewhere in the same purple paisley, futuristic, court. Also, there are shoulder pads.
According to the band, “Reverence” is about trying to understand the other. Bridging the gaps between seemingly different people before violence erupts as it does all too regularly. Reading through this band’s bio is a deep dive into some fun (bleak) post-apocalyptic fiction. A Boy and His Dog meets Mad Max style stuff.
The writer picks up a transmission that’s just TV Queens on repeat through a ham radio in the basement/bunker. Sounds like it could be way worse. It gives the listener hope anyway. Q: Is anybody out there? A: TV Queens is out there. Way out there.
Darryl Robbins generously took some time to reply to a few Q&As:
With so much lore behind the TV Queens one has to ask if there will be a multimedia companion to the album. Maybe a graphic novel or film?
“I would love to do that and it’s something that’s been brought up, but at this time, there’s no official development on something like that just yet. At the end of this string of singles we’re doing (the end could be anywhere really, we don’t know where yet), there will definitely be some kind of special release that encompasses all of the singles mixed in with new things and something multimedia is absolutely in the cards.”
*What inspired the retro aesthetic? How do you feel the ’80s vibe and the post-apocalyptic vibe complement each other?
“The retro aesthetic grew directly out of the initial concept for the project which was sort of a modern version of what someone like the Human League might look and sound like. That general concept has grown on it’s own to some extent which is both good and inevitable, but the core of it is a love of ’80s new wave and pop acts. The post-apocalyptic vibe is now. The ’80s vibe is an escapist fantasy from it.”
Two vocalists and an “everything else-ist” isn’t a typical lineup for a band. What does the TV Queens’ process of songwriting look like?
“Completely digital and kind of inverted. We’ve never actually been in the same room creating the music. The songs don’t emerge from any time of ‘jam’ situation. I put the tracks together with no indication of what the vocal parts might wind up being and then I email them to Nathan and Maria to hash out what those vocals are going to be.”
“I’d say we instantly agree on everything about 99% of the time due in no small part to the fact that both of them are really good at instantly finding things that work really well with the tracks. This might seem like a very wrong way to write songs but for us, the key is that it’s a different way and that it gives us a different result than having a more typical process would.”
“One party not hearing the full picture makes them do things differently. There’s been at least a couple of times where the vocals you hear were created with an entirely different track but swapped out because the accidental differences were really great. Anyway, I wind up with the vocal takes in my inbox and put the rest of it together from there.”