LAVOY | Interview

Indie + alternative culture depends on new rising artists to create diversity & innovation within their respective genres. We constantly feature notable indie & alternative artists on the verge of success.

Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview. Introducing You To Your Next Favorite Artist: LAVOY.

Lavoy is from a remote town in Alaska where they had to contend with quite a few distinct challenges. Touring meant driving a minimum of eight hours to the next city. Wintertime meant round the clock darkness and below freezing temperatures – less than ideal conditions for dragging musicians out to nightly six-hour rehearsals. 

The band released 3 independent albums in Alaska and built up a local following. In 2013, they quit their jobs, sold their houses and moved their families into a 4,000 square foot home in Spokane, Washington. They wrote and rehearsed daily while crafting their upbeat, sunny synth-pop sound. 

We recently talked with the group (Tyrell Tompkins, Sean Riley, Ryan Monson, Kipp Riley & Ivan Brikto) to get their take on alternative culture. Read on to find out more about your next favorite artist.

Comments From The Curating-Editor

We’re currently obsessed with songs that have a certain timeless quality about them, and LAVOY brings it with their latest single, Smile. It’s is a feel-good track reminiscent of recent Ra Ra Riot, Foals & Cold War Kids, but with the energy of the invigorating, yearning nostalgia-rock we hear with acts like Kings of Leon. Though originally from Alaska and now based in the Pacific Northwest, there’s certainly no frigidness in the sound aesthetic of this vibing band.

Warm with the perfect amount of late-70s synth allure in the production, the alternative-fueled dancepop is addicting in the way it makes you move to the very solid groove. The video, filled with multiple joyous listeners strolling to the headphone beat, is spot on in capturing the positive, revelatory themes of “finding something you thought you’d lost forever. Its about that moment when you lock eyes with your best friend or loved one. You know you’re home and you can’t help but smile.” Captivating, relatable yet intimate, this is definitely a song you’ll want on your favorite playlist.

 What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?

Oh boy, top 3 is a hard # for me. I’ve known for so long that I’ve wanted to do that I’ll really have to get back to the early records that I was listening to… like… The Beatles’ Revolver. That was a big one for me because I’d heard the Beatles other records but this was the first experience for me where I felt like they were making that transition from bubblegum-pop to really interesting thought-provoking songs… I really love ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (of course) and ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ is probably my favorite from that record. It’s kind of funny to me that I didn’t realize that they were older and not current when I was very young, that’s what I thought modern music sounded like early on.

The record that was really big for me for awhile was The Smashing Pumpkins’ Machina and the Machines of God. I really liked a few things from that record that I sort of obsessed over along with 1979 and a few of their mellower songs from Mellon Collie. I know a lot of people who are fans of the band in general and they seem to get sort of upset when I mention the Machina record… I don’t really understand it, but I don’t really enjoy the band all that much otherwise, so that could be the difference.

Modern Englishs’ After The Snow and Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair are both records that I loved and discovered well after their releases, but I also have to mention Radioheads’ Kid A. That record still brings me to a place I can’t find with any other record or artist. There’s so many more that I feel terrible leaving out, but alas, we must push on.

What are your fondest musical memories?

As a listener I think one of my fondest memories was seeing Bob Dylan live in …’08 I think. There’s just a lot of music history there and I used to obsess over Dylan’s Music, so it really was a big deal to me to see him live and experience it in person. As far as an artist, I feel like it has become any moment that Sue Riley watched Lavoy play live and see how happy that made her. If you never knew who Sue was this may not matter to anyone else, but she was the mother of Kipp (drums) and Sean (guitar) and she passed away just prior to the release of our new single ‘Smile’. Sue had a way of lighting up the room or space she was in no matter what the situation. Even as she was battling cancer she was still the most lovely and positive person in the room and you would never know she was dying. She was the band Mom and I along with many others will miss her dearly and always think of her when ever we perform. She is my fondest musical memory as an artist.

Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?

I personally am drawn to the electro new wave pop, grime pop and 80’s new wave but I feel like I can find inspiration in modern songs that are being released daily here in the US and abroad, despite the overall styling. It’s a testament to good song writing if someone can pull that off and you can enjoy it even if it’s not quite your style. No country though… sorry.

What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?

The creative process usually starts with an idea that the creator of the idea doesn’t necessarily love… then one of the other Lavoy members falls in love with it… then that member writes more onto that idea, then the original creator of the idea adds their touches and regains the ability to see the original vision that was accidentally lost while escaping (for just a moment) to the underground of Star Trek animated episodes ,while sleeping with headphones on listening to sounds of birds in a forest on record after slurping ice cream flavored Kool-Aid through a black licorice… so it all comes together something like that.

As far as our approach, I believe we try to let the gold of the song make its way to the surface in the demo process and keep molding it until we feel comfortable with it. Sometimes it never gets there. I’m known for quoting myself repeatedly saying “we throw away more hits than most bands write in their whole career.” As far as a theme, I would say the main theme is the chase for truth. Highly focused on relationally conveying the truth in whatever way directed.

We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?

Our city has some really great bands and artists and I think it’s a thriving music scene that gets overlooked and I think that may be a good thing in some ways for local acts. I think that Alaska was what originally crafted our sound, and that’s what helps us to see Spokane a little differently. We take inspiration from the lonely observer, or a life-of-the-party kind of person that resides in places like this all over, but is drawn to stay in once place or another. It always comes back to the people for me. Everywhere is different but everywhere is the same. Everyone’s different and everyone’s the same.


How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?

I believe all of the soundscapes, visuals, artwork, music, music videos, photos, clip art, pottery, live show experience is once giant roll of one personality. It all works together and you just get to see different aspects of what Lavoy’s overall personality is. If it doesn’t all match up, the thing that doesn’t belong gets blended up and flushed down the lou. Everything that we are is bound up in this and gets rolled out one piece here and once piece there. It’s great when you can get the whole thing and understand each part of it. I hope our friends and fans get to know us that way and never get surprised with out-of-character expressions, yet that they understand the art enough to be pushed to the edge and are provoked to thinking and growing.

As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?

I think a lot of people just say that’s just how it is so we have to deal with it, but everyone saying that sort of pretends like it used to be so much better for everyone. It may have been a LOT better for a lot less people. I have a hard time believing that there were as many people out there who could make music back in the old days… so therefore, I believe that sharing has moved music ahead in big ways and there’s just so much more music out there that it’s a better music world in general. I think the rising musician is impacted because he can work really hard and be in front of more ears and more people than they ever could have dreamed of prior to the digital age, and I think that the quality of music overall has probably been affected in a negative way, but would you have ever discovered The Jai Pauls if it was the old way? …Probably not.

What is your dream collaboration and why?

My (living) dream collaboration would have to be with Brian Eno. Simply because of his mind. I’m not sure if you know this, but he’s absolutely joyously out of his mind and it’s perfect for creating amazing landscapes of sound that no else can even touch. My (non-living) dream collab is David Bowie. He proved to the world on his final project that there was no stopping the man even in death.

Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?

Right now I’m currently obsessed with Sufjan Stevens – ‘Fourth Of July’ (I know it’s sad, but it brings perspective to current events for me) Shura – ‘2Shy,’ Night Moves – ‘Carl Sagan,’ Deklan Mckenna – ‘Brazil’ and almost anything by Manatee Commune. I can definitely recommend all of these to anyone who’s listening. Best kept secrets are: Water Monster, Young Fangs, The Dancing Plague of 1518, Matt Hopper, Hazia, Scott Ryan, Cathedral Pearls, Arlo Indigo and Hibou (if you don’t know already).

What are you currently working on? Any new projects?

Right now we’re mostly trying to complete the marathon of music videos. We wanted to have a video for each of the songs we release, so we’ve been working on several videos with some really talented friends of ours, all at once. It gets to be a little crazy at times, but I enjoy it so much that it just becomes part of the the whole process and there’s never again time to nap, that sleep is just gone.

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