Local band breaks nationally

Local indie-folk band I, the Mountain announced their summer tour which will bring their pop-inspired folk music to musical festivals across Ontario.  

I, the Mountain is composed of Matt Lamers on guitar and lead vocals, Allison Dyjach on keyboard and vocals, Matt Rappolt on drums, percussion, and vocals, and Rory McLachlin  on electric guitar and vocals. The band started ten years ago when Lamers and Rappolt met in residence at university. The duo earned extra money busking at farmers markets and where they started to build an audience.   

“People were asking us what our name was and we didn’t have one. We had a collection of six or so songs that we wanted to record, so we figured it was time for a name,” Lamers said.    

The name for the band came to Lamers in a dream where he was in a band that was called Between the Mountain. He searched for the name after waking up and a few similar names that were already taken.   

“We had a list of various ones, The Mountain and Me, Me in the Mountain. Our significant others at the time chose Me in the Mountain, but we didn’t like it, so we chose I, the Mountain,” Lamers said.    

Dyjach and McLachlin joined the band in 2018, and they released their first album, Little Wild, in March 2020. All four band members are supply teachers in the Waterloo Region District School Board. Dyjach said being supply teachers gives them freedom to write, record, and perform.  

“It’s a really good mix. Being able to teach during the week when we’re here and then go away on tour,” Dyjach said. 

Having the freedom to go on tour when they need to led the band to their upcoming summer music festival tour. Last September, the band was on their fall tour and had a free night in Charlottetown, P.E.I. McLachlin said they were looking for a place to play on a Sunday night. Friends of the band at the Hopyard Beer Bar in Charlottetown offered them a spot to play for the evening, which also happened to be the same time as the Music PEI Showcase Week.  

“It was pretty quiet, but it turned out that one of the few tables that was there had three of the people who book bands for some of the major Ontario music festivals. They had a very intimate experience seeing us in a bar setting and I guess we played well enough to impress them,” McLachlin said.  

After their set, McLachlin and fellow bandmates Matt Lamers, Allison Dyjach, and Matt Rappolt were invited to the agents’ table, where they talked music and touring. That serendipitous conversation led to I, the Mountain being booked for multiple music festivals across Ontario this summer.   

That one night in Charlottetown is bringing I, the Mountain to new audiences, and the band is excited to share their music as it continues to evolve. Indie-folk inherently encompasses different musical influences, and each member brings their tastes and styles to the band. Rappolt said that the music they listen to makes its way into their sound in a certain way, but it is not always overtly evident in what they play.   

  “I listen to a lot of progressive rock. Allison listens to a lot of Broadway and very funky stuff. Lamers listens to hip hop, but the music we make together is kind of pop folk,” Rappolt said.  

Their unique take on indie-folk sound is only part of the equation for I, the Mountain’s success. Their live performances are engaging, interactive, and designed to connect everyone—audience and band—together. Rappolt said that energy comes from focusing on being performers first and artists second.  

“There are musicians who focus on artistry. They’re in the studio all the time familiarizing themselves with all of the latest plugins and instruments to get the exact sound that they want on their albums. Then there are musicians that are performers first. We fall into that latter category, where when we write music, so much of it is about the live performance and figuring out how we are going to get people involved in singing along,” Rappolt said.  

Lamers added that being supply teachers helps the band connect with their audiences. He said going into new classrooms means they need to be social and not take themselves too seriously.   

“Our favorite part is after the show. Soaking it all in, but also meeting the people who are now our fans or have been our fans. Having that connection ensures that they’ll come back, but it also creates this sense of community that maybe other bands don’t necessarily foster to the same degree,” Lamers said.   

During the pandemic, I, the Mountain turned to live stream concerts to keep building connections with their fans. Dyjach said that while pivoting their interactive performance style online had its difficulties, they were able to find their stride in performing online. At the beginning of the first lockdown, the band did weekly live streams for three months. They also organized a virtual tour where they performed with other acts across the country.   

“We had a following that would come to many of those shows. There got to be parts where people would always type in the comments during certain parts of songs. There were inside jokes. We would play games with our listeners, too,” Dyjach said.   

Getting out on the road again means getting to connect with new audiences and expanding their fanbase. The band played at TWB Brewing Co-operative on July 1 for their hometown fans before setting out on the festival circuit. Dyjach said that the last six months have been surreal. Growing up, the bandmates attended music festivals where they saw some of their favourite acts perform—and now they’ll be on some of those stages.   

“We’ve been trying to push the band forward since 2019 and summer music festivals were such a big goal of ours. The fact that we’re playing eight music festivals this summer is pretty crazy,” Dyjach said. 

The band will be performing at the Springtide Music Festival 2022 in Uxbridge on July 21, the Hillside Festival 2022 in Guelph on July 22, the Muskoka Music Festival on Aug. 19, and Riverfest Elora 2022 on Aug. 21.