Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Calvin Moen

54: Calvin Moen


Create a stage production of a sci fi synth pop opera

They Came From Outer Space…

In a distant future on an alternate timeline, a pensive Space Cowboy adventures to an unknown planet in a cardboard rocket ship filled with Casio keyboards and guitar pedals. The planet’s population: one evil Robot Wizard hell bent on making everyone in the universe cry with his dark electrosynth magic.

The two fight an epic battle that is also a dance party. Great storm clouds drench them and their gear, causing an electrical surge that fuses them into a single musical entity while simultaneously transporting them to a stage in an old stone church on planet Earth.

Calvin Raygun and Wyatt Android make up the musical duo badweatherfriend, based in southern Vermont. The spirit of badweatherfriend has always been fundamentally about connecting in times of hardship and grief, embracing the full spectrum of human emotion, and finding expression for our collective pain, rage, and joy.

Project description

This project is a two-person science fiction twist on the opera seria, with an original synth-pop music score. It is the story of a space traveler who has lost his home and an android who has lost its memory clashing on the remote wasteland of a lonely planet. Drawing inspiration from 1950s radio dramas, pulp science fiction, and more contemporary works such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we are integrating highly stylized and campy tropes with more serious themes such as broken social structures, climate disaster, selfhood, and trauma, noting how these influences shape the narratives that we tell others and ourselves.

Performing live as a band, we have always felt a connection with our audience that is unparalleled by the way audiences interact with our recorded work. We had an awareness that our songs each had a story of their own, and we were interested in what would happen if we were able to string together an album’s worth of songs in an overall narrative arc. The opera format emerged as the vehicle through which we could make that storytelling more overt and direct. Catchy pop melodies, droning synths, and electronic drums provide a palette of sounds that will make this opera something unique and fun.

The premise—a planet breaking apart as a result of some unseen force—speaks to Earthbound experiences of global climate chaos and increasingly fractured social connections and isolation, not to mention weathering 3+ years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The final production is imagined as being serialized across (currently) three acts, or “issues.” This grant will fund the creation of Issue 1. Our ultimate goal for this work is to complete all three issues and stage the full-length opera, where our unique take on the important themes of the piece can be experienced in its entirety. We believe this is the moment for this story to be told, and to bring audiences together as a Vermont community dealing with these themes together.

Media Sample 1

“You’re fine” music video. “This video exemplifies our capacity for collaboration on an audiovisual media project and showcases our acting and storytelling abilities.”

Media Sample 2

“Undo.” “One of our fan favorites, Undo’s energy and tempo suggest possibilities for a duet between the Robot and Traveler at the height of their conflict.”

Media Sample 3

“Lighthouse” draft script. “This draft shows the overall plot line, character descriptions, and samples of lyrical content. The first act, or “issue,” is the most complete.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 23, 2023