Known for crafting hit for a huge range of artists from Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and more. While creating hits for others, Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony also make up the group Louis York. Since creating the duo group in 2015, the two have released their EP trilogy Masterpiece Theater Act I, Act II, and Act III. Back in October Louis York unleashed their full-length LP The American Griots. A few weeks back we got a chance to speak to hitmakers, Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony as they spoke about their new album and more. Check out the interview below.
YMMW: Right now, in music, it feels like a lot of artists especially new artists are afraid to make a new sound and try something different for Louis York’s debut project American Griots you guys were not afraid to step outside the box. Tell us about the process when making this album and the story Louis York wanted to for the debut project?
Louis York: The reason we joined forces to become Louis York was to operate without fear. Too much is done to please critics rather than move the people. We wanted to add to the solution, not the problem. We approached our debut album, American Griots, with the intention of getting all the music we hear in our heads out into the world. That meant beautiful melodies, poetry, chord changes, horn arrangements, live strings, undeniable hooks, soulful grooves. We are making the music we craved and couldn’t find. It’s light music.
YMMW: As successful songwriters and writing for a lot of artists, how does Louis York create the fresh sound that we heard on American Griots without sounding like anything we heard on the radio?
Louis York: We are fans of music, FIRST. Writing for some of the biggest artists in the world was like getting a master’s degree in music creation. We learned from the very best how to create memorable music that also makes you feel something real. We also are students of all kinds of music so it was our goal with our own album to create something that the world is missing.
YMMW: You both have written and produced many hits for a lot of huge stars, do you both feel that standards are set higher or there is more pressure for songwriters and producers who step out from behind the scene to becoming the artist?
Louis York: There is definitely a lot of pressure for us to be great but that pressure doesn’t come from outside opinions. As the masterminds behind some well-known songs, it would be ridiculous if we didn’t bring the heat for our own artistry. That’s why we are our biggest critics. We are not interested in repeating trends or being cookie-cutter artists so we work extra hard to be excellent. People know of us for amazing music & storytelling, it’s our job to keep raising the bar. I think we are doing that.
YMMW: I saw you both make a cameo on Love and Hip Hop Hollywood talking to K.Michelle about her country music. Will you both be working with K.Michelle on her country project?
Louis York: We love K. Michelle and have known her for years. We’ve been talking about her country roots for years so we’re glad the world got to see that side of all of us on Love & Hip-Hop. We’ll absolutely be getting in the studio with her to make that dream a reality…K doing country has the potential to be massive.
YMMW: Speaking of country music, we all seen Lil Nas X break barriers in country music, but we haven’t seen any black women take over country music like that yet, do you guys think black women can break into country music?
Louis York: A black woman can and WILL break into country. Nashville is diversifying every day. It’s taken a long time and it ain’t easy but it will happen. We are at the frontlines of that effort. We live in Franklin, TN and moved our company Weirdo Workshop here to be a part of that change.
YMMW: Now that American Griots is out what else can we see coming from Louis York? Can fans expect a tour?
Louis York: American Griots is still only our debut album. We will definitely be touring this music, and sharing our stories. We also have many new projects mapped out in our heads so there is always new art coming! This is the beginning of the journey.