That Grape Juice‘s latest feature ‘Meet The Makers’ spotlights the gifted names who engineer the spectacle in all facets of entertainment. Music, TV, and beyond.
Today, as their work for other artists continues to serve as the life blood of the music industry, we interview Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, the creatives in front of and behind the act Louis York.
On November 18th, the duo released ‘Masterpiece Theatre Act II’ after bagging a sleeper hit with 2015’s ‘Clair Huxtable.’
What we discussed when we caught up with them?
Find out below…
TGJ: For those who don’t know, how was Louis York formed?
CK: Chuck and I formed Louis York 2 years ago in a studio in New York City, both on the verge of leaving the music industry. We realized during a conversation that we had a lot of opinions about what was going wrong; So we decided to be the solution instead of walking away. Chuck’s from East Saint Louis, and I’m from New York. Hence the name Louis York. It’s a mashup of our two crazy brains.
TGJ: LOYO’s sound is both upbeat and introspective. Growing up, who were your musical influences and how have they shaped the duo’s creative direction?
CK: Yes, I agree it’s upbeat and introspective. I grew up listening to artists who were both cool as shit yet deep, poetic and thought provoking. People like Billy Joel, Bob Marley, Sade, Biggie, TLC, and Sting to name a few. Music doesn’t have to be dumb to be catchy. We want people to love it but excellence is always our goal.
CH: My musical influences were Ray Charles, Earth Wind and Fire, Quincy Jones, Elton John, and James Taylor. All of these people taught me that greatness came from living outside the box. Ray Charles specifically influenced my live performance and how I interpret my music in front of an audience.
TGJ : Let’s talk about your latest release. Please tell us about its conception, direction, and evolution.
CH: For the instrumentation, I wanted to have a perfect mix of live instrumentation and production. We continue to take chances like in Act I to keep people guessing.
CK: Masterpiece Theater Act II is the second installment of our introduction to the world. Act I was our intro and transition from making music for other people to making music for ourselves. Act II really helps to define how diverse and fun this ride is going to be. And trust me this is still only the beginning. But if you want to know exactly how I feel listen to “Hipsters.”
TGJ: You’re both renowned for writing hits for many a Pop star. Which of your songs would you place with Rihanna, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and Adele and why?
CK: If I’m being honest, I don’t hear any of them on our music. And that’s no offense to any of these lovely ladies but we became artists to say what we thought no one else could say but us. BUT I’ll play along:
Adele – Hipsters
Rihanna – Raging Bull
Beyonce – Hush Money
Christina Aguilera – Don’t Play
TGJ: We enjoyed Masterpiece Theater Act 1 thoroughly. How much of the hits you penned for other artists influenced its direction?
CK + CH: Not at all.
CH: We tried to avoid repeating ourselves.
CK: It’s not about our past wins it’s about creating a new legacy.
TGJ: You’ve produced for Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. If tasked with executive-producing their new albums what direction what you would you take their respective music in.
CK: Christina is one of the best voices in the industry. I’d love to hear her voice over something beautiful and focused and big. An orchestra, maybe with a theme like a movie.
CH: We’d give her her “The Bodyguard” moment. Strings, melodies, showbiz.
CK: I’d love to hear Rihanna go more earthy, tribal. Janet Jackson “Velvet Rope” meets Sade. But she’s done so much great music that it’s actually hard to say.
TGJ: The ‘American Music Awards’ suffered a severe ratings dip. Some blame it on the “death of the superstar.” As two respected industry figures, where do you think music has gone wrong (or right) in recent years?
CK: I definitely watched the American Music Awards. There were some awesome moments – Bruno, Gaga – but overall we need to grow up as a business. I’m finding as a fan and a professional that we’re so focused on catering to twelve-year-olds that we’ve neglected the majority of people who need something real to get them through life. On top of that we accept subpar songs, performances, and artists far too much. If the music industry was as selective as say the Olympics then we’d have the best of the best to feel and enjoy.
CH: We could write a book on this. There’s so much wrong.
TGJ: When all’s said and done, how does LOYO want to be remembered?
CK: When all is said and done we want Louis York to be remembered as a musically genius, masterful, compassionate trailblazers who raised the bar during a very dark, confusing time in both the industry and the world.
CH: We’re not only musicians. We’re also multi-talented black businessmen with a lot to say. We’ve done so much already behind the scenes so imagine what we can do now that we’re speaking our minds with no barriers. Those who are unafraid to be weird, be themselves, and speak up will be remembered. And that’s the legacy we intend on leaving. We won’t be satisfied unless we’re considered one of the greats.