Written by Fatima Hasan
Chicago-native Ian Lyons (“Treepeoh”) has been quickly garnering national attention with his unique and refreshing sound. This 22-year-old has proven himself to be one of the premier dubstep acts in the Midwest through his original tracks and remixes that have allowed for him to gather thousands of online plays. This year, he continues to flourish as he sets himself apart from other producers and DJs. Some upcoming performances include the Lunar Tide Music & Art Festival Official After Party in Chicago, Kosmos Kingdom Music Festival in Des Moines, IA, and Dancefestopia Music Festival in Sugar Creek, KS.
Do you think there are any benefits or downfalls to living in a city that is really bustling with fresh talent in the electronic music scene?
“It’s motivating to keep yourself working hard. I was very lucky starting off to have a group of friends, and a group of people, that stuck by my side since the very beginning. At shows they make themselves very present! I’m very happy, I wouldn’t want to move somewhere else because there’s so much going on here and there’s so much good music around. That’s the best thing for electronic music in my opinion. It is hard, but it’s great at the same time.”
What made you decide to use Treepeoh as your stage name? I can see a twist off of C-3PO from Star Wars, but wasn’t sure if it was totally intentional.
“It was kind of like that. In the beginning it started off with my area code in Geneva, which was 630. So, my first alias was 6-ThreePO. I had a friend that made great artwork and he did this C-3P0 edit, so I thought that was really cool. I guess it’s not really where I got the name from, but it is where I got the ring. It actually started as an Instagram handle. I was changing my Instagram and as a joke my friends would call me Seis-Tre-PO …like in Spanish. It was stupid, but it was funny! I thought I’d make an Instagram handle like that, except I forgot the H in Three-PO. It ended up being Tree-PO… and I was like, ‘oh, that kind of has a cool ring to it’. We all kind of kept saying it, and I ended up keeping it.”
What initially sparked your interest in becoming a music producer?
“I’ve always played instruments as a kid. I was a drummer growing up, I always wanted to be in a band…like Lincoln Park cover bands, System of a Down cover bands. That never really happened in high school, I didn’t have a band or people to collaborate with, really. Then I got into electronic music and ended up going to a couple shows…I was like ‘yup, this is for me for sure’.”
Do you think your background instrumental knowledge helped you while learning how to produce?
“Starting off, I had trouble producing. I had music programs back in high school, but I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t have much direction. I think it’s really important to have a mentor or someone that knows what they’re doing to kind of help you get started. I had some of these producing programs for like 4 or 5 years and had no idea how to even use them. What I ended up doing was teaching myself how to DJ first. I was in high school so I was able to go out and do that at parties and stuff. I thought that was important to help with getting my name out there first. Then, I’ve spent the last 4 years really trying to get my producing down now that I’ve gotten my name out there.”
Did you have a particular mentor to guide you?
“To be honest, I didn’t. I never went to a ‘legit’ college, I ended up going to a music school down here. Half way through my time at this music school, the owner got charged with fraud on like 12 different counts, so I lost a couple thousand dollars that I invested. But, I did end up meeting a lot of people at that school. We were able to stay connected and they were able to kind of help me. One in particular is Orville Kline from Porn and Chicken, he was a teacher of mine back at this school. Same with Brian Boncher, he’s a pretty big house DJ who’s been around forever. Those are the kind of guys that helped me get started in the scene. Other than that, a lot of it was just hard work. You can have a mentor, but those can only help you get so far.”
Do you think your style of music has changed as you’ve continued to produce throughout the years? If so, has it been an intentional change?
“I’ve always loved different styles of electronic music. If it’s good, it’s good. When I’m playing live, I like a broad set to go in all directions for the audience. Show them my tastes, so to say. It has changed over the years, but, you know, I think the music scene has changed over the years too. I’d say now compared to back then, I definitely have a much more particular style than I did. I’ve homed in on what I’ve wanted to learn and create. It’s definitely changed, but I’m very happy with where I am right now.”
Do you have any advice for people who may just be starting out producing?
“Definitely. Like I said, maybe join up with a buddy or a friend, someone who is willing to actually help you learn. If you don’t have that person, the internet has allowed us to have a lot of information right at our fingertips. That’s great for people starting out. Other than that, go out, meet people, talk to people, have a true passion for it. The only way you’re going to do well that is if you care about it.”
How do your family and friends feel about your career in music?
“At first, everyone was a little skeptical. My mom was trying to send out college applications, but I was like ‘nope, I’m moving to Chicago’. My mind was set. She was a little anxious, but after the ball actually started rolling, everyone has been pretty much behind my back 100%. I’ve got a lot of awesome friends that come out to my shows. If you come out to one of my shows you’ll probably hear a Treepeoh chant because they’re just that loud and that ridiculous. They’ve always made themselves known, which has helped me a lot. I have a great group of friends and great family that have been really supportive…I’m very thankful for that.”
Have your parents ever been to one of your shows before?
“They actually have! I think it was back in June, I played with Stabby and Dr. Ozi at Medusa. They had a great time!”
What other genres did you enjoy listening to back in the day?
“I grew up on rock music. Metallica was my first concert in 4th grade… Metallica and Godsmack at the Allstate Arena in 2004. I was like the youngest kid at the concert! My dad would always play Korn and Metallica around me too, pretty much heavy rock. Of course, my emo phase eventually came out. I didn’t go too far into it, but then around 2010 I actually saw Pendulum open for Lincoln Park. That was at the United Center and it was like my first electronic experience. I went home, went on YouTube to look up some of their tracks, and ended up jumping from related video to related video. This is how I discovered Bassnectar and so on. I thought the lights and everything else were so cool, I didn’t even know what drum and bass was, you know.”
What other electronic music producers do you enjoy listening to?
“I listen to just about everything. Definitely weirder bass type stuff, like Freddy Todd and UK Bass like Caspa. It’s hard, because when I play live I include like a different song by a different artist throughout my setlist. I try to keep my stuff super eclectic. I’m not a huge riddim fan, I’ll be honest about it! I like a couple riddim tracks but I’m definitely not riding the hype-train right now.”
Where are your favorite places to perform and why?
“I actually just performed at The Chop Shop a few times over the last couple months and they set up their shows really well. The Funktion-One sound and hospitality from Silver Wrapper is great. Concord is also really nice. I played at the Rave / Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee over New Year’s again and it’s definitely a blast over there too. I’d say those are probably my top three!”
What has been your most rewarding experience that involves music?
“Progress. Seeing where I’m at and knowing that hard work has been paying off. Being able to create an experience for myself, my friends, and now my fans. I’m not even used to saying that! It’s cool to see people that have followed me from back then to now. People come to my shows and talk to me about it. I think that’s the most rewarding thing… Being able to create an experience for others.”
Do you do anything in particular to rejuvenate your creativity?
“I mean, I smoke a lot of weed, I’m not going to lie! But really, you can work on the same track for months and months, and sometimes you have to come to the realization that it’s time to do normal people stuff for a while. Sometimes just watching TV can be the best way to rejuvenate yourself…taking a break. It can be really helpful to come back and have a fresh set of ears after listening to the same thing for weeks and weeks. Mostly avoiding the redundancy of things by taking a step back.
Right now, I think I have about 8 songs that are around 80% done, including collabs. I used to just produce one song at a time but that’s changed.”
Is there anything else that you would like your fans to know?
“I love y’all! Thank you for your continued support.”
For tour dates and more information, follow Treepeoh here: