Treefort 2023 Profile: Montreal’s Thanya Iyer

The greatest gift that a new artist can bring to table is, well, something new. Montréal-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Thanya Iyer is doing just that, crafting a luminescent variation of experimental pop — and even coming up with a name for it: “future folk.” It’s a sound as infectious as Iyer’s huge smile.

Iyer will have backing players onstage when they play Treefort Music Fest together in support of their new EP, rest. Iyer recently (and graciously) set aside some time from making music and making people happy to talk with The Bad Penny for our ongoing series profiling the record number of international artists playing this year’s edition of Treefort.

As expected, the latest entrant in the series beamed as she answered questions — and didn’t complain at all about the 36-hour drive that Iyer and company will take to get to Treefort.

[Go here for a primer on this series of Treefort Music Fest previews. Check back for new profiles of international artists playing the festival every day leading up to the fest’s kickoff on Wednesday, March 22.]

Artist: Thanya Iyer
From: Montréal, Québec
Genre: future folk
Treefort info: Playing Sunday, March 26, at Bandshell at 2:50 p.m.

Why did you decide to play Treefort Fest this year?

THANYA IYER: We were supposed to play last year, but I was in music therapy school. And when I asked the school if I could leave for two weeks to do a little tour, they said no. So here we are! And also, everyone I talked to said Treefort is the best and we have to play it!

What excites you the most about participating in it?

IYER: The lineup!! There are so many bands that I love who are playing this festival! I’m really excited to be surrounded by amazing music.

Is this your first time playing Treefort? If so, how did your booking come about? If not, why did you choose to return?

IYER: This is my first time playing Treefort! The festival reached out to my booking agent. Since I couldn’t play the year before, we just confirmed for the year after. We were definitely hesitant because Montréal is a ways away from Boise and we were going by car. But again, everyone said the festival is the best, so we had to come!

Have you visited Boise/Idaho before? If yes, do you have any fun stories to share? If not, what have you heard about Boise/Idaho?

IYER: I’ve never been to Boise, but I have heard only great things! About an amazing and vibrant music scene and how bands who have played there have had such a good time. 

Did you face any challenges or headaches in securing a visa to come here?

IYER: It’s always kind of stressful applying for the visa and wondering if we’ll get through the border … even though we’ve done so much paperwork to make it happen. Luckily this is our fourth year doing this process, so we kind of know the ropes. But for some reason each year they make it harder (more expensive, more hoops of paperwork to jump through).

What expectations do you have for your experience here and at Treefort?

IYER: To have the most fun and to hang with all the fun folks, meet new friends … only good expectations! 

How would you describe your state of mind going into Treefort?

IYER: OK, real talk: We haven’t been on tour as a band since the pandemic cut our last tour short and haven’t been on a six-week tour since 2017! (The tour is six weeks because we also are playing SXSW and are driving the whole route.) So we’re a bit excited/a bit nervous on how our bodies and minds will feel. [But] ultimately, [we’re] so grateful to be together as a band again doing what we love and meeting new and old friends again. And luckily we know once we’re on that stage, playing will give us so much energy!

What other artists on the Treefort lineup are you excited to see? Are you friends with any of them?

IYER: Yes! If our tour schedule allows it, we are so excited to see our pals Bibi Club, Sea Moya, Macie Stewart, Sen Morimoto, Kaina and NNAMDÏ!

What do you enjoy most about performing at music festivals in general?

IYER: Definitely the community aspect. I love that feeling that festivals like this have where there is something special in the air that brings everyone together!

What can Treefort attendees expect from your performance?

IYER: Songs weaving into the next, a wash of sound, live visuals projections, good vibes.

For more coverage of international artists playing Treefort, check out our recent conversations with:

• Vancouver’s Mauvey
• Italy’s Dumbo Gets Mad
• Brazil’s BIKE
• Chile’s Sistemas Inestables
• British Columbia’s Mother Sun
• Norway’s Orions Belte
• Treefort Co-Founder and Festival Director Eric Gilbert

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