The Lo Frequency is a wonderful band I discovered thanks to John Robinson, who put me on their debut EP The Export back in September and I love everything about their music, the messages they spread and the emphasis they put both on education and travelling. While I was fortunate enough to meet Chen Lo, one of the founding members of the group, during my express trip to Pittsburgh in December, we didn’t get a chance to record an interview then. It was only a question of time before I got the opportunity to ask him a few questions though and I’m quite happy I did. In this very interesting interview, Chen Lo tells us about the creation of The Lo Frequency, The Export EP, travelling, performing and much more. Without further delay, let me introduce you to a very interesting artist…
First of all, for people who are not familiar with you and your music, could you introduce yourself and The Lo Frequency? How did you all come together?
I wrote my first rhyme when I was 12/13 and started doing music seriously when I was about 15. I started with a band performing in clubs I was too young to be in, mostly in and around Pittsburgh, PA. My journey would have my love and passion for music grow as I matured. I was with many other groups (Hi Lo Productions, Liberation) that nurtured my craft and helped me hone my skills. After I graduated college, I came to New York to attend grad school at NYU. I met my now drummer and musical director Ken White in my first class. We eventually began experimenting with putting a band together. That experiment evolved into what is now The Lo Frequency, a 9 piece live music experience. I’m leaving out a lot, but those are the basics
Something that struck me the first time I visited your website and read your bio is the importance of education. Several of you are or have been teachers, or are involved in teaching in various ways. Do you consider it’s a priority to educate people and most importantly children/young people through music?
Music is a teaching tool. It has always been used by our ancestors to pass along culture, history and important information. Many people in the band use music and art to engage young people to find and exercise their life’s purpose or to simply give them a critical outlet of creative expression. Our music will always be purposeful so that young people and people in general can find meaning in it. We want our music to challenge, inform, uplift, entertain and educate.
Another element that seems to be quite important for you and The Lo Frequency is travel. You have been visiting many countries and cities, performing in most of them, and generally discovering other cultures while exchanging with local people. How do you see travel in your life as a human being and artist?
Travel is essential to evolving and growing as a person. I don’t think you can self-actualize without being exposed to other people and places. We always see traveling as an opportunity to give and receive or to share and learn. It is a tremendous blessing to be able to have this experience through our music.
Our music will always be purposeful so that young people and people in general can find meaning in it. We want our music to challenge, inform, uplift, entertain and educate.
Your debut EP, The Export was a wonderful little piece of music that dealt with different topics and showcased the various influences of The Lo Frequency. How did the project come to life and is there a specific concept behind it?
Thanks for the compliment! Any band that wants to survive needs music that people can take with them and play whenever the desire strikes them. “The Export” came from that and also wanting to share a sampling of the sounds that come through us collectively. We believe they are special.
The concept of the project has multiple layers. We are the descendants of people that were literally exported from their homeland. Their experience shapes our music. As a band we have traveled a lot in affect exporting our music to garner more fans and appreciation. We find ourselves in the same tradition as many Black musicians in America that came before us. It can get deeper, but I’ll stop there.
You are currently performing at numerous events, including the UN General Assembly on May 15th. Once again, there is an educational element for this show and several others. I guess performing is quite important, as you really emphasise the “live band” aspect of your music. Do you feel it’s easier for you to share your music and move people this way?
Definitely! The live band and live performance are what create true fans and allows people to really experience the raw essence of the music. I often prefer performance over studio work because it gives you the ability to directly interact and convey your messages directly. We live for the live show!
The UN show was incredible by the way.
We are the descendants of people that were literally exported from their homeland. Their experience shapes our music.
Do you have any other important upcoming projects, collaborations or events you would like to talk about?
At this point, the band is working on another project. I just finished a solo album called “Footprints”. I have two other EP’s that are near completion as well. All of this will be released in 2012 or early 2013. We hope to be traveling more towards the end of the year to a few undisclosed locations. We’ll keep you posted.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for reaching out and shining a little light on us. It is appreciated!