Chris Coy is an artist living in Los Angeles. He’s also the main guy behind the website provoshows.com, which focuses on the history of the music scene in Provo. I had some questions for him about the site and music in general:
Before we get in-depth with your website, let’s talk more generally about music: you clearly are a fan of both music and live shows. How did that come about? What genres of music have been key loves over the years?
To be honest, I don’t think of the provoshows project as a fan-based initiative. For me it’s an overdue personal acceptance of Provo as a place with an important musical history that I participate(d) in. I know that’s not exactly what you’re asking though. As far as music I like that’s hard to answer- my interests are pretty broad. At the moment it’s a lot of early darkwave, goth, EBM and then John Maus on repeat. I never had an emo phase- that seems important to me somehow.
What was the first non-devotional music-making LDS band that you heard? What was your reaction to it?
“LDS band” seems like a misnomer. Do bands that have a connection to Mormonism cross over into that territory at some point? It seems like a kind of genre purgatory for groups like Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband.
What other bands with LDS musicians are you a fan of?
It’s hard to say. I don’t know if I’m a fan of many. I’m probably just getting hung up on that term though. Bands with ties to the church that I think are compelling are usually the ones with a contrapuntal relationship to dominant LDS modes of cultural expression. Midwife Crisis comes to mind. The performative nature of a live show and its inherent theatricality is the right place to shake out some demons, you know? Low is also an important band. And I think there’s something to Win Butler’s Mormon ties (Arcade Fire). He’s like a prophetic echo from the 19th-century under the raw canvas of a revivalist tent. La Monte Young also. I’ve been meaning to read this BYU professor’s book on him that looks super fascinating.
Provo seems to breed ska bands. There was that minor explosion of them in the late ’80s/early ’90s but there have been others as well. What is it about Mormons and or Provo that leads to ska?
The mainstream moment for ska is over thankfully. That makes me sound like a jerk, haha. But I think it’s best on a dusty shelf in the receding past next to retainers and driving permits. Why Mormons/Provo and ska? We reblogged a post that one of the members of Swim Herschel Swim wrote trying to answer the same question. I think there is something particularly white and middle class and earnest in ’90s ska — it’s a music of believers in a way. So it makes sense that Provo would’ve been a stronghold. The other side of the ska coin might be the straight-edge scene; similar kids with different solutions.
Why did you decide to put provoshows.com together?
A major reason was the backwards glance that distance affords. I don’t live there anymore. I realized that Provo was the first real place where I participated in a hyperactive creative community that was entirely self-organized. A “scene” in the best sense. I’m not nostalgic for it though… I just feel that as a college town Provo has a short-term memory. Certain people like Corey Fox (who runs Velour Live) embody its history- but it’s a sort of revolving door of student talent who often have very little sense of their own participation in a larger timeline. Hopefullyprovoshows.com will be a resource in that way.
What is the most surprising and/or rare thing that has come your way because of the website?
Nothing too surprising yet, but I’m reminded of this crazy coincidence that happened when I lived there. Corey Fox called me and was like, “Chris, I found this thing in my drawer in my apartment- you won’t believe.” It turns out that I had written a teenage fan letter to Swim Herschel Swim. They were on a Moon Ska Records compilation that I had and I liked the song so much I wrote them about it all the way from Alaska. And then 9 years later I randomly intersected with my teenage self. Was kind of surreal.
How can people get involved in provoshows.com? What are the key things you are looking for?
Any/all submissions related to the music scene in Provo would be great. There’s a submit button on the site, or people can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on facebook (thanks Tod).