17 Jul 2021

Anthonie Tonnon melds music with political musings on 'Leave Love Out of This'

From Music 101, 6:50 pm on 17 July 2021

Anthonie Tonnon released his latest album Leave Love Out of This yesterday, six years after his previous one Successor, with the title track one of the top 20 songs competing in this year's Silver Scroll Awards.

Anthonie Tonnon

Kiwi musician Anthonie Tonnon says many of his songs are about people running up against social systems. Photo: supplied

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He’s also been developing immersive live performances like his show A Synthesized Universe, and Rail Land, which involved catching a train with Anthonie to a Community venue.  

Heavily involved with public transport, he has also operated a 102-year-old elevator in Whanganui.

Anthonie says 'Leave Love Out of This' is about being part of the first generation growing up in the economic experiment New Zealand launched into during the 1980s."This is a constant theme for me - it's been what I've banged on about through all my albums really, this idea that as a millennial who was born in the 1980s as they were doing those things, or just after they were really changing New Zealand from a humanist welfare state to a state based on minimal intervention in markets, and the idea of a rational economic actor," he says.

"I just wonder what they thought our generation was going to end up like.

"I know a lot of the people who made those changes started on the left and that's always fascinated me."

Anthonie says many millennials find themselves in "hilariously bad financial situations - and not through our own doing".

"There are some aspects of 'Leave Love Out of This' that have that feeling of being on the losing side of a finished conflict."

Having studied music and history, including New Zealand history, at Otago University in Dunedin, Anthonie says many of his songs are about people running up against social systems.

"If it doesn't have that wider context, a kind of political economy or something, then it isn't my song," he says.

"People interacting with human-made systems or people who have emotions, but are coming into contact with something difficult to do with bureaucracy or a corporate entity... there needs to be a wider context."

Anthonie Tonnon live at Wine Cellar

Anthonie Tonnon performing at The Wine Cellar in Auckland. Photo: Chris Zwaagdyk / Muzic.net.nz

Playing around with music often stirs memories that converge until a song forms, he says.

"It tends to be that the right hitting of some notes on the piano or the guitar will extract a memory of an interaction and it will feel like it goes with that music.

"Music is like a prompt to dig up parts of your memory or it digs up the emotion you felt about something."

Some events from his life become mythologized in often repeated stories that quickly surface from his memory in response to music.

"But I think the best stories are the ones I haven't told, but they come up because they're musically prompted... because they haven't had time for me to re-remember and re-tell the memory 20 times."

Anthony Tonnon performing as part of his Rail Lands tour

Anthonie Tonnon performing in his Rail Land tour in 2018. Photo: Ana Tovey

Anthonie has also been developing immersive live performances, such as his show A Synthesized Universe, and Rail Land, which involved catching a train with him to a Community venue.  

From 22 September to 9 October, he will tour New Zealand to launch his new album.

His band on tour will include Stuart Harwood on drums, David Flyger on bass guitar and synthesized bass, Steph Brown on synthesizers and samples, and Sam Taylor on electric guitars and percussion.

Anthonie Tonnon

Anthonie Tonnon Photo: supplied