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Pytch, a new Minneapolis electronic label, takes lo-fi to another level

by Aaron Bolton

February 03, 2016

A new electronic label has popped up in Minneapolis. Pytch – the name will make sense in a minute – began while producer Ryan Olcott (FoodTeam, Mystery Palace, 12 Rods, c.Kostra) was working with Garrison Grouse on Grouse's record last year. Grouse and Olcott say they didn’t exactly have an epiphany moment leading up to Pytch’s official launch on Jan. 4, but the subject came up in conversation a few times before the final decision was made.

“I remember I was next to the window. I think I was smoking, and I thought you said, ‘We should start a label.’ I looked at you like, what?” said Olcott. “I thought about it for 10 minutes and thought you’re right.”

Grouse quickly chimed in, saying he thought that the moment came when he texted Olcott while on tour in 2015. Either way, Olcott and labelmates Grouse and Nikki Pfeifer (Devata Daun) founded the label about four months ago.

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Pytch’s Facebook page describes their sound as “tape and pitch deviant music with refined melody, soul and lo-fi,” but the label's roster goes much deeper than that. Olcott said he has streamlined a production process that hones what he calls a “lineage” of equipment hiccups.

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“The problems that happen with analog and all that stuff, that’s undesirable tone, things that just happened. Those are the things that really give flavor,” said Olcott. “I’m trying to hone those really gross kind of imperfections. That, to us, gives it a vibe.”

That “vibe” of repurposed equipment hiccups carry throughout all three artist’s records set to be released by early summer.

“Our records, they are different records,” said Grouse. “They do sound different, but they have a lot that ties them together. I guess mastering is one way of putting it."

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There’s no denying there’s something to Olcott’s production style. Devata Daun’s “Fascinate” is just one example of what the Pytch crew are aiming for: a minimalist but textured style that explores what momentary silence can do at just the right time, or what a swing in pitch will add to the next few moments on the track.

“It has to be done only through electronic means, analog and digital. Even though a lot of our songs we play live on, all the instruments,” said Olcott, “we make it sound like it’s a sample, something you found on a little mixtape in your parents' car for 20 years. You know, it’s all warped up. We’re trying to go for that thing.”

Pytch’s three founders are the only artists on the label so far, but they hope to add more in the future. For now, the crew has its sites set on releasing a sampler first. “We know enough to get started and have a good time doing what we do, but it’s going to be a learning challenge for us too,” said Olcott.

Olcott said they're learning all aspects of running the label, from producing all the visual elements to making the website. They hope to have everything up and running in the near future. You can check them out on Facebook and Soundcloud in the meantime. Pytch’s debut sampler will be out in just a month or so.

Aaron Bolton is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota. Currently he is the music reporter at Radio K. He hopes to continue a career in music journalism.

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