The Dr. Yes Experiment!

Mad scientist invites his friends along to make weird pop music

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

The Dr. Yes Experiment! performs Dec. 15 at Café Coda with The Shimmies, Aubrey Debauchery, Red Giant and Deimos.

Don’t confuse Oroville’s Dr. Yes with the Dr. Yes from Salem, N.Y. Both of them have MySpace pages, and while the East Coast Dr. Yes lists his music as “alternative,” the local Dr. Yes’s music—with its layers of spacey synth, surprise pop-trumpet and reedy vocals—is the more alt-sounding of the two.

Our Dr. Yes likens creating new music to experimental science: The multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter sees both as “a lot of needle-in-the-haystack work looking for that diamond-in-the-rough.”

The good (and disarmingly good-looking) doc should know. Dr. Yes—a stage name derived from his real first name, “Iestyn” (it’s Welsh, pronounced “Yestin")—has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and cell biology from UC San Diego, and works at a rice-breeding station helping develop new rice varieties for the California Rice Growers Association. The 31-year-old, who prefers to keep his real surname a mystery, is currently working on a project looking for the genes involved in the milling quality and disease resistance of rice.

“Where I work, it takes 10 years to develop a new variety of rice. We start with thousands of varieties, cross-breeding two plants with desired traits. From there, you get thousands of offspring that you eventually weed out. …

“Music parallels genetics and evolution: All music is descended from previous influences.”

He has been playing one instrument or another since grade school—including trumpet in the band in elementary, junior high and high school—yet Dr. Yes claims he isn’t a highly skilled musician. He retreats to his music room full of keyboards and other instruments and describes what he does as “banging on the guitar and messing around with knobs and drumbeats until something comes out that I like.”

The entity called The Dr. Yes Experiment! can consist of one person (Dr. Yes himself) or any number of interested and interesting people.

Brett (we’re not using last names), a good friend and musical cohort from his UCSD days, appears on MySpace recordings contributing such things as “spacey strings,” back-up vocals and “bad-ass beats.” Dr. Yes’s younger brother (by 14 years), Austin, aka Austimus Prime, also plays synthesizer on the recordings.

Dr. Yes is hoping that Austin, a senior in high school in Oroville, will be able to pull himself away from studying for finals to join him for an upcoming show. And although Brett is now working in the Bay Area, Dr. Yes will use his prerecorded beats in his show.

Regardless of who joins him in this upcoming live experiment, Dr. Yes will be there with his keyboards, loop station pedal and vocal harmonizer to put the audience under his atmospheric spell.

A mad scientist?

“I guess I am when it comes to making music,” said Dr. Yes with a smile.

GIVE A LISTEN TO: “Joy"—Synth-pop doesn’t get much prettier than this.