Photo by Tyren Redd
I’m going to be real! This pandemic is an emotional rollercoaster. One day, I can’t even WATCH the news the next I’m googling everything about this pandemic: from predictions to losses. Sometimes, I swear I am going to learn something new like, how to sew, and other times i’m shocked to find out that what I thought was Monday was, actually, Thursday. It is a weird time to be productive but it is NEVER a weird time to be compassionate. Louis York have been KILLING it with their Welcome To The Workshop series on their IG Live, with one even set for tomorrow at 4:20pm EST. There they have conversations, music classes, and go behind the scenes on their creative partnership. Thus, I HAD to interview Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony on how they have managed to summon their creative juices to bring a flow of empathy and solidarity through Welcome To The Workshop.
Diandra: How are you getting motivated to Welcome To The Workshop because they feel so energetic?
Claude: Right now, social media is all we have to connect with the people we love: our friends, our music people, our tiny book club. We go through phases. Luckily, we have quarantined together so we can bounce off ideas and emotions on each other because it is really scary, not only in being distanced from your family, but to watch the whole music business come to a screeching halt; that is your finances and your creativity and your hopes and your dreams coming to a halt. I don’t think any sane person is chilling and having a great time. This is a deep, tough time. That burst of energy that you see is not us trying to over-compensate. Whether the music business is open right now, music is, definitely, saving our lives right now. We’re playing at home and serving our friends, but the live performances are what is keeping people alive. The energy you are feeling is just us trying to avoid sitting at home and throwing a pity party.
Diandra: I didn’t think it felt over-compensating. It, actually, felt very healing and alive, in a time, when people are, personally, going through such highs and lows.
Claude: That is a really great thing to hear. The thing about playing live music is that you feed off the crowd’s energy, but now social media is everything. Going live, on social media, it’s hard not know if you are looking crazy in vain. So this is good to know.
Diandra: Have you already heard a story that inspired you?
Claude: On a personal side, Chuck and I are pretty responsible with how we interact with social media because it can really put you in a bad mood. Overall, we are really sensitive to the sacrifices being made because both of our moms were nurses. Both of our moms are retired now, but they would be the women, out there, working hard, and we still have family that are. There are people that are displaced and not with their family, and we feel that everyday.
Diandra: How do you feel Welcome To The Workshop as predictive of the future of music?
Claude: This can’t happen and there not be changes, but we don’t know what they will be. Part of why we started Welcome To The Workshop is that we eager to jump on and set the tone of where these changes are going. We, luckily, have the talent and skills to provide light music. This time is challenging artists to showcase their skill and not hide behind the trickery and even the PR spin off it all. Music is going back to whether you can sing to
people to make them feel better when they want to cry, when they want to worship, or whatever they want to feel. I’m hoping the creativity community will see and remember that this is what it is all about: giving people some peace through song.
Diandra: Do you think the music industry will see this and become more compassionate?
THEY BOTH LAUGHED SO HARD AT THIS! That I just.....
Claude: I think that is an oxymoron. Our workshop is the exception of the rule. It is going to be up to the creatives to change narrative.
Diandra: Our how do you feel, as persons, you have a particular understanding about what people need from artists right now?
Claude: Chuck and I have always been really good at, not just making a catchy song, but making a song about an artist’s life, the political climate, about topics that matter the most. Now, more than ever, you have to apply all that stuff. We are trying to be sensitive to the fact that no one has the answer right now. We are not trying to preach. We are aware, as gospel musicians, that people need songs that are not about ego or things that are too unrealistic or materialistic. People needs songs that are more hopeful and that will make them feel better. We did Welcome To The Workshop so that people can enter our world and see how songs are created. That it is not just about the cool end-product but the passion and creative process that goes into it. So you can see how much attention to detail goes into Chuck’s production and my vocals. In my personal opinion, what Chuck and I were doing, before this, was leading us to a moment like this where we can encourage people to have a sense of community and go back to shows. It is going take a lot of baiting for people to go back to live shows.
Diandra: YES! I think it is going to be a real while before people feel, both financially and spiritually ready, to go back to normal or have fun outside like, live shows. Thus, holding conversations, in your workshop, is there one you are eager to have?
Claude: For me, it is how we can make music an essential or musicians an essential worker. How do we bring healing back into music and trying to see how healing is the common factor amongst musicians. Music is a universal language, and the world needs medicine. We have always been able, as musicians, to reflect and change the culture. On a business note, creatives need to have a “Come To Jesus” moment on how to protect ourselves as musicians. The entertainment industry has taken a major hit and we are struggling to find work, but we are also the most needed. We are taking to social media to provide shows and heal people. It is a rude awakening to see that all these institutions that are here to sign you up and take your money are not, actually, there to protect you.