Once upon a time, in the small town of Boulder, Colorado, hippies roamed freely, love was abound, and it gave birth to a music scene rich with homegrown, grassroots vibes where people jammed for the love. After a while, that Boulder scene died out and moved to a place called Denver, where the music community urbanized and became more serious. Today, Denver holds one of the most unique music scenes around. From this community of awesomeness came the band The Motet. Their first album came out in the year 2000, and since then, they’ve been expanding their musical family and crushing it. In lieu of their headlining Red Rocks Amphitheatre show this Friday, July 12th and their massive upcoming fall tour, I phoned frontman Lyle Divinisky to chat about what we should expect to see from their upcoming shows. Read on:
Lyle joined The Motet sometime in 2014-2015, just when the band was looking for something fresh and new to add to their mix. Already a part of the extended grassroots music scene, Lyle was recommended to The Motet by his friend Ryan Zoidas from Lettuce and Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell from Turkuaz.
“The Motet reached out to the guys from Lettuce and Turkuaz when they were looking for a singer, and those guys recommended me. I guess you can say the rest is history. The guys from The Motet had me collaborate on a couple of songs, which turned out to be the songs on the Totem album and we vibed so well that shortly after that, they asked me to join them on tour, starting with a headlining show at Red Rocks with the likes of Vulfpeck and Medeski Martin and Wood. At that time, I was skeptical about leaving my goals as a solo soul singer, but I knew I couldn’t pass up that kind of offer. I think I made the right decision,” he laughs.
And that he did! For Lyle, the most exciting part of becoming the lead singer of The Motet was exactly the Colorado vibe I mentioned earlier. As he says, “Being able to come into that built-in grassroots, home legacy, and to be welcomed so deeply and quickly, I think, is a really special thing about this band and the Colorado scene in general. The Colorado lifestyle, the Colorado excitement, the Colorado loyalty and investment in music; the music experience and culture created around this community is my favorite part.”
Lyle grew up on R&B, hip-hop, and soul. His dad, Phil, was his biggest influence. “Yeah I got these pipes from my dad. He ended up choosing the home route and he’s been a teacher his whole life, but while I was growing up, he would play gigs on the weekends and at home, he would have friends come over who would play guitar and sing and I would be around all of that.”
How he chose to be a singer by profession was a purely instinctive inclination. “I never took any singing lessons, but I grew up around it and was really good at listening. When I finally got old enough to be left alone around the house when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I started singing by myself. But even then, I was just kind of doing it for fun. I didn’t really start becoming serious about singing until I was 17 when I realized a basketball career for a slow, barely-six-foot-tall white guy who can hadrly dunk wasn’t going anywhere. Naturally, I chose the next most successful job placement and that was to be a soul singer,” he laughs. And honestly, we both laugh at that one, but sometimes a strong dedication to what feels right, despite the odds, pays off. So far, in Lyle’s case, it’s been a successful ride that shows no signs of stopping.
Lyle and I spent a little time talking about The Motet’s history and how the feel, sound and direction of the band has changed over the years. On that topic he says, “The coolest thing about The Motet’s history is a supreme lack of fear in constantly changing. There’s no thought of trying to build walls or boxes around who the band is. It started as a worldly music with heavy bass and percussion, then moved into afro-jazz and afro-beat, then it went straight funk and right now, with the configuration of the people in the band like Parris on the trombone, Drew with a reggae vibe, and me with a heavy R&B and soul influence… it was inevitable for the band to journey more into that realm than ever before.”
Parris Fleming, who Lyle mentioned, is also the newest addition to the band. Only 27 years old, he is truly a breath of fresh air for the band as a whole. He took Jazz Instrumental studies at Columbia College in Chicago and played in Dumpstaphunk before joining The Motet. Adds Lyle, “We all feel really lucky to have Parris in the band. He is a superb musician, but he also brings some calm energy to the group. To be only 27 years old and to be such a mature and well-rounded, calm, and confident dude is pretty amazing.” The age range of the band members of The Motet is 27 to 51, a nice mix of experiences where everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the table.
As far as the band’s live performances, they don’t seem to be stopping. The Motet will be doing the weekend warrior thing this year, playing shows every weekend from now until Thanksgiving. Even though the band’s been on a headlining streak at music festivals and big venues across the nation for several years now, their out-of-the-box approach to making music is unwavering. Staying as a cohesive whole, made of different parts, their performances remain engaging and aspire to connect and impress every time. “We really don't want to box ourselves in. Everything we write and create we want to be genuine. It comes from all of our inspirations coming together and we all have different influences that we bring to the table. As we present that music to the audience we know that we want to create an experience and we know that we want to take the people on a journey, whether that’s to give them the freedom to be as weird and wonderful as they want to be or to nerd out to Garrett Sayers being the most ridiculous bass player and Joey Porter being the funkiest dude ever… you know, we want to create moments and scenarios with the music are very proud of and share it with the audience.” says Lyle.
As for their upcoming headlining Red Rocks show this Friday, they're playing with Galactic and Moon Hooch. Lyle is pretty stoked, saying, “Headlining Red Rocks, once again, is such a dream come true. You hear people always say, ‘Oh man that is such a cool venue!’ And yeah, they’re not wrong! It never gets old and it’s a magical experience, one I am honored to be a part of. This time around, we will have a few special guests and it will be a non-stop-funk-filled dance party. It’s really what we try to do every time and what we do best. The band as a whole is in a really cool place right now. It just feels like there’s something special happening within the group and the music we’re playing. I think it’s undoubtedly going to show in our live performance.”
As far as magic goes, the dudes of The Motet are also playing during a magical time of the year: summer in Colorado! You can buy tickets for The Motet’s Red Rocks show here while they last. I look forward to seeing you out there!
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.