Beautifully Harsh: Remembering Orlando artist Tony Garan

click to enlarge Tony Garan - Photo by Jim Leatherman
Photo by Jim Leatherman
Tony Garan

I may not be the best person to write about artist Tony Garan; we weren’t especially close. But Tony was one of Orlando’s friendliest freaks — a true artist, underground agitator and gentle soul. And though I hadn’t seen him in quite some time prior to his recent passing, we always seemed to be on the same wavelength when we did connect.

The first piece I wrote for the Orlando Weekly was a primer on musicians who represented the spirit of Orlando’s DIY-underground circa-1996. Of course, Tony was included via his ongoing experimental-electronic project Actual Wounds. I remember he invited me over to his house to do an impromptu interview for the story. As we sat in his bedroom studio, we bonded over our shared love of synths, samplers and industrial music.

As the years went by, I mostly kept in touch with Tony through his social-media updates. Whether showing his artwork all over the city, reissuing Actual Wounds albums or posting about his passion for skateboarding — he always seemed to be whirlwind of activity.

We finally did reconnect in 2018 when I began to record my own music again; Tony sent me a “care package” including some of his newer music and postcard art — along with hand-written notes and flyers.

Life always got in the way of getting to know Tony better. Yet I continued to deeply admire his determination to get his art out into the world no matter what — even when the effort spent exponentially outweighed any (rational) return on investment.

I still have the Actual Wounds cassette Tony originally gave me all those years ago, complete with handmade liner-notes and artwork. In the Weekly article, I noted Tony’s music was “beautifully harsh, and at times, just beautiful.” And from what I’ve heard from others, this could easily describe Tony, too.

He’ll certainly be missed.
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