Student Sounds: Lo & The Mix (Part 2)

JON FERNANDEZ / COURTESY

The Aggie catches up with local band

There are a few new things I’ve learned about the local band Lo & The Mix since sitting down with them last year. One cannot help but notice a strong new energy within the band, an undeniable chemistry between the members both new and old. Indeed, only three members of the last version of Lo & the Mix remain after some members departed. Witty back-and-forth banter not only produced a conversation that produced quirky revelations about each band member, but is also an example of the intimacy central to the alteration of the band as a whole.

Fourth-year cinema and digital media major and drummer Sean Johnson and I have the same favorite color. Fourth-year political science major and bassist John Hancock and third-year genetics major and keyboardist Oliver Tucher have the same middle name. Aram Balain, a fourth-year chemical engineering major who does auxiliary percussion for the band, loves progressive rock band King Crimson. Horn players Micah Marmorstein and Caleb Sanders, fourth-year biochemical engineering and biochemistry majors respectively, both have killer laughs. UC Davis alumnus and lead vocalist and rhythm guitar Benett Hannan likes the color blood orange-red because it makes him go “mmhmm.”

Through various interactions and multiple members unintentionally enrolling together in a jazz music class on campus, the current band came into fruition at the end of 2017.

“How we ended up playing together and whether or not we are [the title] Lo & the Mix is not as important as the people who are here […] Sean has grown so much; I have learned hella from talking with John,” Sanders said.

With such chemistry, the band appears more legitimate than before; no longer just a casual jam sesh, but a cohesive group.

Tucher commented on the dynamic between Sanders and Marmorstein, the band’s horn section, in particular.

“They get together and link up. In between their solos is this unified teamwork that is really fun to watch.”

The relationships between members are the key aspect that produces the coherency and sound of Lo & the Mix.

“That’s partly why Lo & the Mix is now set,” Hannan said. “The name is not a particular group, and that’s partly what embodies the ‘Mix’ part of it. We’ve had so many people touch on this one big thing that has grown out of our community of friends, and it’s starting to feel like this is what we are supposed to sound like.”

The sound has evolved from its original ska into a R&B funk melody, according to Marmorstein. The band confirmed the coining of this term on the spot during the interview. Titling their music is not their main objective; rather, their production of masterful music stands on its own.

“It’s funky bass, driving beat, a little more dancy, hot horn hits” Hannan said. “I’ve gone to acoustic […] and having that and the hand percussion adds this islandly feel. We also now have the keys, and that does that jazzy sound.”

For Balain, beyond earworm sound, it’s the hard-to-notice details that distinguish their music from others. Hannan agrees.

“I think everyone has a different thought, but I always thought of the ‘Lo’ being the little interactions between everything,” Hannan said. “The stuff that you don’t even hear on the track but if it was gone you would notice. I think it’s little things about everything we’re saying — the soul.”

Johnson “vibing on the drums” surfaced as a prime example of said energy and soul.  This psyche has cued a songwriting streak for the band. New content has even emerged by accident as the band has been practicing together for their upcoming shows, according to Sanders.

“Right now we are working on our Picnic Day show, and then we are doing Whole Earth Festival,” Sanders said.

Moreover, the band is recording and will be performing their new music, now to even larger audiences.

“What we have online now are our old EPs,” Hannan said. “We have about three new songs recorded right now that will come out on SoundCloud. And on June 2 we will be opening for Riot Makers at Holy Diver in Sacramento. This will be our biggest show yet, upwards of 1,000 people.”

With such tangible growing success, one cannot help but observe a growing maturity within the band. Its strong structural foundation has allowed for more legitimate goals to arise. Again, they are no longer simply jamming in a living room.

“It is a moving goalpost,” Sanders said. “We want to sell our music and we want to get more music recorded. We want people to listen to our music.”

While the goals of the band have become more solidified, the fluid emotions and geniality that unite the members and their sound have remained.

“I think it is not being afraid,” Hancock said. “It’s not like you have to be a structured thing to meet a structured goal. Us having to hit this deadline or play this certain way — none of us feel that way. We really have this idea and want to produce something good, but we don’t feel like we need to do something particular in the way or that we play our music so that we can put it on an album. I’m going to go play with these guys and have a blast doing it.”

As Hannan put it, “for lack of a smaller term,” Lo & the Mix is pure musical love.

“You can’t control it,” Hannan said. “The moment you try to make it go in a way that it doesn’t want to go, it is no longer love.”

That love for music was evident even in the last 15 minutes of the interview. Each member kept asking if they could play a song or two. At the conclusion of the interview, each lept from their seat to attend to their instrument — and the jamming commenced.

 

 

Written by: Caroline Rutten — arts@theaggie.org