The Provo music scene is breaking out of its neo-folk niche with the aid of electronic bands like Polytype. Local producer Nate Pyfer credits increased electronic influence to the spirit of innovation fostered by Provo musicians.
“I like watching bands experiment with the ‘rules’ of making music,” Pyfer said. “I think that electronic elements are a manifestation of the musicians around the scene really working hard to try something unexpected. It’s fun to make music in a community full of bands constantly pushing each other to expand their sound palette.”
Polytype innovates by using traditional instruments in non-traditional ways. For example, the group’s song Cyclone features a loop of a guitar part that they recorded, chopped up, pasted back together and used as a sample.
“Growing up and playing guitar, I would often get bored with the sounds I could make,” Polytype vocalist Mason Porter said. “But playing with sound in an environment that allows you to create noises that you didn’t even think were possible is very exciting.”
Matt Orr of local band Strange Family (vocals, guitar, keys) said his band draws influence from Polytype. Orr said Provo sometimes gets a bad reputation for lingering in its neo-folk niche, so he’s glad the music scene is broadening.
“I think now that Provo has more of a diverse scene, bands are a lot more comfortable doing weirder things, as opposed to just being ‘the folk band,’” Orr said.
Another Provo group incorporating electronic elements is Mideau, an indie-pop band which will perform with Polytype at Velour this Friday, Jan. 31.
“(Mideau and Polytype) share the same producer, Nate Pyfer, which means the concert should be like enjoying a meal of varying courses from a master chef,” said Spencer Harrison, multi-instrumentalist for Mideau. ”All taste good, but deliciously different.”
This March, Polytype and Mideau’s music will reach beyond Provo ears; both bands will play at the prominent South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Texas.
At Velour this Friday, Polytype will try something new. Instead of triggering all of the beats with samplers, they will use live drums, played by Fictionist drummer Aaron Anderson. Porter prefers that performances differ from the album experience.
“I always like it when a live show is different than the record,” Porter said. “If the record’s better, stay home and listen to the record.”
Polytype often adds unique visual elements to live shows to keep their audience engaged.
“Our music is definitely pretty moody,” Porter said. “Even when we practice, we like to turn off all the lights to have as little light as possible. When we use visuals that add an element of light, it contrasts that darkness and throws highlights on certain parts of the songs.”
Porter said the band will try a new visual element for this upcoming show, but he doesn’t want to spoil the surprise.