Having just arrived in Maine for a show at Bates College, Tyler Duncan, the founding member of the Ann Arbor-based band My Dear Disco, had reached the point of exhaustion. But that didn’t stop him from kindly taking a call.
My Dear Disco Presents: The DanceThink Triathlon
Friday starting at 5 p.m.
Various locations and prices
My Dear Disco, a band composed of University alums, is one of the most buzzed-about bands in Ann Arbor’s burgeoning music scene.
Starting tonight, My Dear Disco will host “My Dear Disco Presents: The DanceThink Triathlon,” an event that has been in the works for the last two years. The event will highlight the diverse music community that exists in Ann Arbor.
The triathlon will have three parts: a pre-party at BTB Cantina featuring DJ Seek Selekta, DJ Malvin and Draconum; the main event: My Dear Disco live at The Michigan League Ballroom; and an after party at The Circus featuring resident Ann Arbor powerhouses Body Rock and Jamie Register and Glendales.
The Daily recently spoke with Duncan about his enthusiasm for the band’s Ann Arbor roots, their innovative, self-defined music genre and why April 2nd’s “My Dear Disco Presents: The DanceThink Triathlon” is ultimately the precursor to the next step for the band.
My Dear Disco prides itself on creating its own music genre, often describing its sound as “DanceThink.” It’s virtually impossible to scan the indie music blogosphere without being bombarded by intricately and sometimes ridiculously defined music genres like “Lo-fi chill wave, electrically-synthed-techno pop.” My Dear Disco hasn’t been cornered by media mislabeling, though.
“We’re at a point today where the genres created are starting to become more and more obsolete,” Duncan said. “With the ability to create music across the entire world, the influences that are coming out are becoming so large that it can’t be put under one genre.”
My Dear Disco, complete with a laptop-composed sound juxtaposed with the occasional bagpipe, most certainly refuses to be placed under one specific genre. Except for their own, that is.
“The ‘Dance’ part refers to the techno elements of our music and the ‘Think’ portion refers to the University and our time at the music school and that fact that we are students,” Duncan said.
“As a band we’re like techno, pop, funk, jazz and Irish bagpipes — and French — and we’re getting into using the megaphone,” he added. “So it’s basically an umbrella for the description, and it’s also something that we can grow and evolve underneath.”
Tonight’s performance will enable the band to present its ever-evolving sound to a budding fanbase.
“We have definitely grown, and this show is going to be a really good example of that,” Duncan said. “We want to present the next version of My Dear Disco.”
Grammy-nominated producer Mark Saunders, who worked with the likes of Shiny Toy Guns and The Cure, produced My Dear Disco’s debut album Dancethink LP. There’s a fun electro-pop dance vibe to their tracks, but also hints of brooding punk-rock embedded within.
“The new sound is definitely homing in on a specific, nuanced and even more identifiable style that we’re developing,” Duncan said. “It incorporates a lot more idioms of dance. We’re also focusing a lot more on the emotional content of our lyrics.”
Sure — these key components of the band’s progression are admirable, but their homemade, harmonious “keytar” puts them all to shame.
“Our singer Michelle (Chamuel) is using a homemade ‘keytar’ to home in on the harmonies to synthesize her voice,” he added. “It basically sounds like an entire orchestra with her voice behind her.”
When asked how his time at the University influenced the band’s sound, Duncan gushed about his experience as a student. My Dear Disco was formed while the band members were sophomores, and Duncan has plenty of fond memories of his first flirtations with the concept of becoming a musician.
Duncan recalls his favorite undergraduate memory — their first show was sold out at The Blind Pig — as the ultimate wake up call.
“The place was packed and filled wall-to-wall with UM students,” he said. “I remember peeking out behind sound-check thinking, ‘You got to be kidding.’ ”
But Duncan didn’t rely just on his musical talent throughout college. He also put his intellectual pursuits and proficiency to good use in crafting a sense and appreciation for music.
“We’re definitely an intellectual group of people,” he said. “We analyze pop tracks and the radio and we’ll spend hours talking about it — what it means and doesn’t mean and analyzing Michael Jackson tracks and Daft Punk tunes. So there’s a lot of thought and effort that goes into music and that can definitely get lost.”
Tonight, My Dear Disco is excited to return home for what they expect will be a well received, raucous performance.
Duncan raved, “Ann Arbor just has a great energy and our fans have been extremely loyal and enthusiastic, which is more than we could ask for.”