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“Renaissance,” the title music to season two of HBO’s “The White Lotus,” written by the Chilean American composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer, has touched something deep within the modern zeitgeist. It’s become an EDM anthem, a social media hit and — most recently — a perfect cover for the funk jam band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. Greg Ormont, one of the band’s two guitarists, loves the show and recently played a jammed-out rendition of the theme song during a two-night run at XL Live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, part of the venue’s “Festival of Melting Lights.”  

It isn’t an obvious song to cover. “Renaissance” has no words, and instead features a succession of high-pitched yodels that sound not unlike a pack of monkeys. It’s tense and evocative, uncomfortable, yet somehow danceable. It’s an apt prelude to the operatic drama that was set in Sicily this season, reinforcing the uncertainty of the story and its characters. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s Greg Ormont spoke with Variety about the band’s cover. 

“Renaissance” has gone viral on TikTok and taken over the international EDM scene. Why do you think the song resonates with people so deeply?

The melody is really interesting, especially the way that the vocal part is sliced up and chopped up to have an almost Native American sound. I think we’re so used to hearing a normal human voice and human melody that when something different happens, it catches the ear just as a large interval jump will catch the ear instead of a melody following the usual steps of a scale. 

Were you surprised at the crowd’s reaction to your rendition?

I knew right away who the “White Lotus” fans were, because I think anyone who likes the show is now obsessed with this song. If I were in the crowd and a band started playing that song, I would also freak out. It was fun to see, oh, those people have HBO, you know? It was a great litmus test to see who is subscribing where. 

What do you like about the show?

It’s almost hard to explain why I like it so much. It’s such a unique show, and so funny. But ultimately, I think it comes down to the characters that are so rich, both literally and figuratively, and their evolving relationships and the way that tension is built and then released. 

The storytelling will lead you down certain paths, and sometimes those paths don’t get resolved and they don’t develop and they’re almost like a diversion to the true storyline. I think everyone who watched the finale of season two was both satisfied and unsatisfied. Certain plot lines were tied up and other ones were left wide open. What happens with Greg (played by John Gries)? Does he get caught? Does he get in trouble for this? What happens to Portia (Haley Lu Richardson)? She seemingly gets off scot-free? Why was Jack (Leo Woodall) in such a deep hole and why did he end up in the situation to begin with? I mean, there were so many: what happened with Daphne (Meghann Fahy) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) when they went on their walk to the beach? There was so much left unsaid. 

How did the song make its way into your set list?  

I played it for the band and it was an earworm for Jeremy [Schon, guitarist] … he went home and started watching the show. Then, he dusted off a guitar pedal that he doesn’t normally use in our day-to-day shows called the Tremolo, and brought it out so he could mirror that choppy melody. He learned the melody, showed us the chords, and we were off to the races.  

Normally we’ll catch these ideas in practice and let it marinate a bit. But not only was this an instant hit with the band, it also felt very current. We felt like, we’ve got to play this immediately since the season finale had just aired. We also did a quick little search online and didn’t see any other covers of this, and we were kind of shocked by that. There were a couple of TikTok videos floating around about that funny kind of vocal melody. So that was another impetus to get it together and let it rip.

In adding it to your repertoire, are you also looking to reach more fans?

Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was in the back of our minds. But it all boils down to playing what you love to hear and what you’d want to hear if you were in the crowd. And this is just a song that clicked on all levels, and we just wanted to play it. When we played it during soundcheck, we were smiling ear to ear. There’s a lot of songs that are played out in our scene, or just in live music in general, and we like to try to find that happy medium: songs that people know, but haven’t already been done ad nauseam. 

Did you derive any creative inspiration from the show’s characters?

I think there are many familiarities in these characters’ situations that, whether you’re a billionaire or not, you can feel for Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge). She struggles to forge authentic relationships and to feel heard and understood. I think that’s what was so interesting is that the show was written in a very specific way with the characters’ situations, but it was all universally relatable. I find that when writing lyrics, your best stuff comes when you write about what you know and when you get specific. It’ll all be drawn into metaphors for whoever is interpreting the song, but if you write about what you know, that’s when it’s going to be the most authentic and most relatable. 

Also, the twists and turns in “The White Lotus,” where some of the storylines end up resolving and some leave you hanging, you can do that musically, too. Especially with our live concerts where we’ll help lead our audience down one path and whether or not that tension resolves musically or not is part of the different emotions we try to evoke in the crowd. Whether or not there is a triumphant release or if we just leave them hanging, it’s all part of a bigger picture and everyone’s personal experience.