The Backrooms is a Halloween-centered experience featuring instrumental songs, harrowing soundscapes, and tender, haunting melodies. Audiences experience this layered body of work performed live by the music duo Monsterboy LIVES on an assortment of instruments throughout the event. The Backrooms is where industrial noise meets classical, world, and rock instruments to create atmospheric works for those seeking a uniquely dark and creepy experience.
This performance will include both physical instruments and an extensive collection of sampled instruments and noises, as this music is hybrid in nature. The duo discovered the benefits of using found sounds from Timbaland’s Masterclass on beatmaking. This process is sampling interesting noises in our modern world with a handheld recording device, then manipulating from the original waveform by stretching, clipping, effecting, and warping to create a playable bank of musical notes. This unique bank is then patched into a synthesizer to be used as a playable one-of-a-kind instrument. Classical, jazz, and rock instruments find their way into the works, from clarinets to electric guitars. The duo tops it off by utilizing a collection of odd relics, like a 1923 Conn bass saxophone and their 1930s Silvertone accordion to bring in the aged tones from bygone eras.
In this way, these pieces have connections to the past but exist in a liminal space of noise. Combining these instruments in this way follows in the footsteps of music legends such as Trent Reznor and Akira Yamaoka. This performance will feature pieces that were originally commissioned by Little Rock’s NPR affiliate Arts & Letters, inspired by the Shaun Hamill novel, A Cosmology of Monsters. Additional pieces that were started during this time have been completed and will be heard by the public for the first time during these shows.
Video projection will wash over the musicians as they play their music, taking this into a multi-sensory experience. These videos, ranging from nightmarish to serene, are custom-designed to sync up with the live music.
This body of work is deeply personal, as it was created during a health crisis that robbed Chris of his voice for six months. This music comes from moments of tenderness, confusion, and fear of the unknown.
Chris Long is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter from Central Arkansas. This Arkansas native started on violin at the age of 6, discovered composing through Music Generator by 12, and became known as a blues protégé by the age of 15. The composer felt like there was a missing element to truly complete many of these original works. Six years ago when Veronica Wirges started playing with them, Chris found that elusive component, her lower register saxophones played in an unorthodox style.
At the core of Monsterboy LIVES is a love story of nonbinary rocker meets classical girl, of how two worlds collide and complete each other. Antique saxophones, soulful vocals, and vintage keys meet modern electronic beats, world percussion, and manipulated found sound samples. In a world still clinging to the binary, this couple celebrates a timeless space in between.
Monsterboy LIVES released a series of singles early in their career and over 7,000 households tuned in nightly to watch their campfire virtual concerts during the pandemic shutdown. In late 2022 the duo signed music with Kinetik, a division of Universal Music Group. They released their first EP in the Summer of 2023, titled Heavy. Also in 2023, they were awarded The Catalyze Grant by the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Windgate Foundation, the Creative Exchange Fund by CACHE and the Tyson Family Foundation, and the Sally A. Williams Grant by the Arkansas Arts Council.