Remember when pop music wasn’t overly-produced, overly-caffeinated, forget-it-after-you-hear it radio fodder?
Listening Phoenix, the new record from Lo Kloza, you’re transported to that time when instruments, lyrics and just plain old good singing were the foundations of a damn good pop song. The Jersey Shore native’s record is a fantastic reminder that you don’t need the biggest beats in the world to make a catchy song. It also reassures audiences that a good pop record can still be a cohesive collection of songs bound by a unifying theme, not a couple of hits and a whole bunch of fodder in between.
To celebrate the release of Phoenix, Lo Kloza will be headlining The Saint in Asbury Park, New Jersey on Friday February 6th along with openers Jerzy Jung, Cat London and In Our Glory. We caught up with Lo herself to talk inspirations, the fear of writing a love song and a requisite Bruce Springsteen story.
Who is Lo Kloza/Band Members: This is the first time some of these guys are playing with me. Many of my band members are involved in awesome projects of their own around New Jersey and the Asbury Park music scene.
C.M Smith – Guitarist. C.M is also the frontman of one of my favorite local bands, The Amboys, as well as The Drive Home.
Jon Altin – Guitarist. I met Jon at college (Ramapo) while pursuing my degree in music industry.
Drew Clelland – Bassist. Drew is the bassist in The Drive Home and various other projects.
Rich Aveo – Keys and Background Vocals. Rich often plays with Cat London as “The Constant.” Cat London is a local singer/songwriter and friend who is opening my EP Release along with Jerzy Jung.
Jake Wyble- drums. I met Jake at Ramapo as well. He isn’t involved in any other projects.
The two openers, Cat London and Jerzy Jung are two artists I admire and love as friends and fellow songwriters. I’m so excited they can be a part of this night.
The Story Behind The Name Is: My real name is Lauren Kloza. Lo was a nickname given to me randomly in high school and that just kind of stuck. I wish I had a cooler story for this.
My sound has been likened to: My new EP, Phoenix is a mix of pop, rock and a little bit of country. I draw a lot of influence from the big, soulful pop divas like Adele and Amy Winehouse, and I think my singing style reflects that. But these new songs are definitely rooted in driving, big-sound rock. It’s a new sound for me after a pop-heavy debut in 2012, but these are songs I want people to clap and sing along to. I put it all out there — my worries, my fears, my insecurities — and now I want people to join me and feel with me as we bring them into the real world. I want them to feel inspired with me. I want them to feel vulnerable with me.
Can you talk about the artists that have inspired you? Also, what people in your life have inspired you to create music?
Growing up I listened to a lot of pop divas. Whitney Houston Karaoke was always in my CD player at home with my $10 microphone plugged into the speakers. I tend to be inspired by strong female artists who take chances and stand up for themselves. Lady Gaga, Adele, Hailey Williams of Paramore, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles. The list goes on and on. I like that they aren’t afraid to make the music THEY want to make and say what THEY want to say.
As for people in my life, not to be cheesy, but this EP has my first happy love song on it. The love song was the hardest for me to write. It’s easy to write about heartbreak and hurt. It’s terrifying to write about love… but my boyfriend inspired me to finally give that a go.
Gordon Brown and John Harvey, who co-wrote this EP with me, were super-inspiring throughout the entire project. They really helped me say what I wanted to say and take the chances I may have previously been too afraid to take. They helped me believe in myself and the music we were making. Every day in the studio with them was super inspiring.
What is one of your favorite and/or most outrageous moments you’ve had performing as Lo Kloza?
My go-to for this question is definitely a classic Asbury Park Bruce experience. I was singing at an open mic night at The Wonder Bar back when I first started playing my originals out. He randomly walked in and sat at the bar. My mom embarrassingly went up to him and asked him to watch me. He actually stayed and said I was really good! I was too afraid to say hi, but we did give each other a thumbs up from across the room. So that was pretty cool.
There are so many bands out there in the New Jersey scene to check out — outside of your sound, which no one else really has, what do you think separates Lo Kloza from everyone else?
I feel like a lot of people are afraid to go for a “mainstream” sound in an underground scene… or maybe they just aren’t into that music. That’s is fine, but that is what I know and that is what my mind goes to when I’m writing. You don’t really hear of “pop music” in a local scene. But here I am! It’s funny because pop means popular but pop music is definitely not the popular genre of most local music scenes.
If someone read this interview and never heard you before, but decided to check you out, what song would you recommend they listen to in order to understand what Lo Kloza is all about?
The entire EP is really defined by the title track, Phoenix. This EP is a brand new me and a brand new sound. The loud guitars and catchy melody lines were exactly what I was going for. The song itself is about rising up and being the true you. On this EP I feel like I am finally doing that and I want to inspire other people to be their own phoenix and to not let anyone else try to control them or change them. Be you. Be like a phoenix. I hope this song and the theme of the EP really inspires others. The entire process inspired me!
What can the people coming out to see you guys perform expect to see from you guys in terms of a live experience?
People can expect a really strong and positive vibe. It’s going to be fun. I’m goofy. I’ll probably trip once or twice. I may make a dumb joke. But one thing is for sure, I’m going to sing my ass off and the guys are going to kill it. We have really vibed well together as a band, learning these songs and spicing up some old ones to fit the sound I’m going for. I hope that the audience dances and claps along. This is the first time I’ve ever performed these new songs live, so the audiences reaction is going to really be what feeds us even more. We are so ready.
What’s on the horizon for Lo Kloza in 2015?
The sky is the limit. Right now I’m working on a lot of dates around the tri-state area TBA. 2015 is going to be a great year, I can feel it!
Lo Kloza performs at The Saint in Asbury Park on Friday February 6th along with Cat London, Jerzy Jung, and In Our Glory.
Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom