Polyenso 7 Questions
Before April 1, 2016 it had been three years since fans had heard new music from the band Polyenso. The release of their sophomore album Pure in Plastic defines yet another turning point for keyboardist Brennan Taulbee, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Alexander Schultz, and percussionist Denny Agosto as they dive further into the psychedelic side of their musical construction.
Hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida, the trio originally made up the post-hardcore band Oceana, which illuminates a vastly different musical personality in comparison to the soundscapes of Polyenso’s current album. Dynamic in their ability to construct a variety of musical styles, this group has never allowed labels to stop them from developing new sounds. Rawckus caught up with vocalist Alexander Schultz to ask a few questions about Polyenso’s music, fans, and inspiration.
Where does the inspiration for new sounds and new musical methods generally stem from for you?
Alexander Schultz: I honestly think it stems from trying, and failing, to re-create sounds that we've heard in music that we love. The failure results in what will become our own sound. I think that this happens often in music. As far as new methods, the recording process of Pure In The Plastic was a completely foreign concept to us. We never played a lick of it live in a room together. It was all written and recorded in the studio, one piece at a time. But, it gave us an incredible sense of freedom musically and opened our eyes to the lack of boundary that music has these days.
People tend to categorize your music at "psych rock." Do you feel this is an honest description of your music?
AS: We'll take psych rock over indie rock, but no I don't think so. There are definitely some major psych influences in our music, but not so much rock. Our last album was mainly guitar driven. This one is mostly drum, bass, and synth/piano driven, so I guess when you categorize the catalog as a whole, I can see where psych rock would be an easy thing to call it.
Since the beginning of your musical career you have kept a strong dialogue with your fans. How does having a relationship with fans help keep you a thriving independent band?
AS: I think that with three years between records, the least that we could do is be active on social media. Our fans are the only thing that has kept us going through this. After grinding as an independent band for five or so years, you can start to feel worn down and defeated at times. In this instance, all we have to do is open up that social media and our fans are there to remind us that it's worth it. Of course we create music because it makes us feel good. And we would be empty without it. But it really does help to know that it's reaching people in ways that our favorite music reaches us.
Of course we create music because it makes us feel good. And we would be empty without it.
How has your fan base changed over the years that you have all been making music together?
AS: I always use Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes as an example for how beautiful it is to be able to mature and grow alongside an artist that you admire. And with albums, you can put concrete, quantifiable, time stamps on your life. I remember walking to the bus stop when I was 14, listening to Bright Eyes' Fevers and Mirrors album. Feeing all of that teen angst, depression, and elation alongside Conor. Then with the next album, he grew and matured as a musician, as did I. I loved it equally. And it's been that way with every release since. Radiohead and I have shared that similar bond. I've noticed that although some fans get disappointed when we release records that don't sound like our last record, a considerable amount have grown with us and appreciate what we're doing. That's a good feeling.
What’s the idea behind the “Cooking with Polyenso” videos?
AS: We're all pretty food obsessed. When we're not making music, we're cooking and eating. The Cooking With Polyenso videos are just a way for fans to connect with us on another artistic level.
What other kinds of music influences your style? What are some of the albums that you all listen to for inspiration?
AS: I wouldn't say that we listen to albums with the intention of getting inspired. That's something that happens subconsciously. But we definitely have some artists that influence how we perceive music and songwriting: Paul Simon, Bjork, Flying Lotus, Air, Beck, The Roots, MJ, just to name a few.
On your website you say, “Polyenso serves as a challenge to music as a whole, proving that there is room left for originality in the popular.” How do you feel you are pushing the boundaries of popular music?
AS: We didn't write that lol. I think it's a bit heady for us to say that we're pushing the boundaries of popular music. But if that is the case, it's because of the amalgamation of influences that we let shine through in the songs.