What do you get when you cross a guy from NYC, a guy from East St. Louis, and equal parts talent and personality? You get Louis York. I had the opportunity to chat with the gentlemen of Louis York, and I learned about their sound, their style, and how they make hits.
So let’s start at the beginning; a very good place to start. East St. Louis native Chuck Harmony (the “Louis”) and NYC native Claude Kelly (the “York”) are hit makers individually. Before Louis York, the guys worked with artists like Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, and Mary J. Blige, so understand they are not new to the game. As a group, they have a common goal: to make music that is unforgettable.
When asked to describe their sound, they used words like colorful, intelligent, fearless, masterful, and spiritual. They pride themselves in creating fun music with serious messaging that pushes the envelope.
When I spoke with them, their answers were almost synchronized, which makes perfect sense because these guys seem to genuinely like each other (which isn’t a necessity for making good music, but it does help with group cohesion and longevity). They work as a team. When they go into the studio, they do it together. They go in with open minds, and no concrete plan for what they’re going to create.
“We are big believers in getting out of the way of the art, because the ego is what actually ruins it,” said Claude. “We walk into every session with no expectations, but that we are going to do something excellent, and to the best of our ability.”
The group uses influences from their lives including pop culture, politics, books they’re reading, and women they’re interested in, to help shape the music. The group’s sophomore album “Masterpiece Theater Act II” is a continuation of the first project “Masterpiece Theater Act I.” The projects were actually recorded at the same time, and the guys are excited for the world to finally hear the entire project.
“It’s [Masterpiece Theatre Act II] a continuation of us introducing ourselves to the world. We want people to know we have a real opinion, and are unafraid to be ourselves,” continued Claude. “We want people to get to know two honest, real men who want listeners to have a good time, but also share some of the things we’ve learned along the way. Masterpiece Theatre is our autobiography of us coming of age as a band and accepting who we are as professional musicians.”
Louis York credits musical legends Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Sting, Earth Wind and Fire, James Taylor, Sade, and Billy Joel as inspirations. I would be remiss if I forgot to mention one more inspiration. That source of inspiration is one Clair Olivia Hanks Huxtable, Esq.; the leading lady of 80’s Thursday night prime time TV. “Clair Huxtable” is a song from “Masterpiece Theater Part I,” but the 80’s baby in me just had to know. Since I was already speaking with them, I decided to ask. Why Clair Huxtable?
“We were in the studio and literally having a conversation about our dream girl, and not just body type,” said Chuck. “We came up with Clair Huxtable, the last time we saw a thorough classic woman. It [the song] grew from that.” “I am a product of a single mother, and in some way I feel like I’m paying homage to the kind of son she raised, by even desiring a woman of that stature,” continued Chuck.
Chuck and Claude view Clair as an inspiration to young people, in that she influenced many of them to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities, take up law, and to strive for their dreams. The group is now working on a new project, and using society and culture to influence its art. They want people to see a different and positive image of blackness, and they want to give people hope. In addition to creating their own music, the pair also has a Nashville-based company called Weirdo Workshop which is working to develop new artists, including an all-black woman band called The Shindellas. Louis York are also executive producing projects for Leandria Johnson, and working with Ludacris, Andra Day, Neyo, and others.
The men of Louis York are accomplished, confident, and ready to continue putting out good music. They take pride in putting out songs with meaning. Their mantra is “lean into what makes you different,” because they believe that’s what brings success. Louis York’s unique sound is refreshing, and I am looking to hear a lot more from the group in the near future.
Stay Connected with the guys of Louis York
Instagram – @louisyorkmusic
Twitter – @LouisYorkMusic