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Taking place from November 5-7 in Perth and November 13 in Busselton, the Perth International Jazz Festival has something for music lovers of all kinds, showcasing world-class talent from both WA’s own doorstep and, in inventive ways nowadays, from across the globe. Dutch interactive jazz trio Tin Men and the Telephone are set to be one of the highlights this year, performing via live stream from Amsterdam as part of the festival’s opening night. In a free interactive community event, the performance can be experienced at 7:30pm on Friday, November 5 on screens at State Theatre Centre Courtyard, Northbridge Piazza and Yagan Square, with an interactive component via the app which can be downloaded from BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Tin Men and the Telephone’s Tony Roe to find out more.

This sounds like a unique way to put on a music performance, where did the idea come from and how long has it been in the works for?

From the start of Tin Men and the Telephone in 2009, we have explored different ways of performing and changing the audience’s role. The main inspiration always came from outside the music, things from everyday life. A lot of the material we developed reflects the times we’re living in. Therefore, the integration of mobile phones in 2015 was a logical step, as people are virtually living through their smartphones nowadays.

Although commonly not much appreciated in performance settings, we wanted to explore the artistic possibilities of such a standard device. We created the app Tinmendo that allows the audience to actively participate in our shows. It has been designed to be used through the Internet rather than in a closed network. That made it theoretically possible to interact with audiences all over the world.

In fact, we developed an online show in 2017, but no programmers showed interest at the time. So, when COVID changed the world and musicians had to find different ways to reach their audiences, we could finally develop an online show that people could participate in from all over the world. Not only fun from a tech perspective but also touching on a very relevant topic: the traveling involved in the touring life of a musician.

Tin Men and the Telephone

And how would you say this show is different from those people have been to before?

The difference is that you actively participate, meaning you can give different kinds of input, like text and self-created music, that we instantly use to improvise on. There is a direct connection between the performers and the audience, and people can influence the show. It’s fun for the audience and very challenging for us, as improvisers, as we never know what the audience will create.

What is the overall message behind the show and why do you feel it is an important one to share with the community?

This current show is a story about the climate, approached from a different angle. Art can present things in another way, not tied to facts or rules. We believe a creative, humoristic, and absurdist approach is necessary besides all the news we’re confronted with daily.

Many musicians and performers have embraced more innovative ways to perform live music in the age of COVID or related restrictions. Do you feel there are more opportunities to use technology like this to reshape how people experience live performances?

It was interesting that the performance world in such circumstances quickly discovered the many possibilities that have been around for quite a while but were not being used at such a scale. There are many more possibilities in that field, and we hope this development will continue and that we can contribute to that.

How does the interactive component of this show work, and how can people get involved?

Very simple! Download the Tinmendo app from App Store or Google Play before the show, and instructions will be given when the show starts. From experience, we know that virtually all ages enjoy the interaction, so don’t hesitate to involve your kids!

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