Local Mic: Lohai

BY BLENDED STAFF

LOCAL MIC IS A BLENDED SERIES DEDICATED TO HIGHLIGHTING BUDDING ARTISTS IN THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE.

Lohai is a NYC-based duo that has spent the last few years making a name for themselves in the soul-pop community through three distinct and powerful singles and many live performances. Originally from Connecticut and Seattle, 24-year-old Alita Moses and 27-year-old Devon Yesberger combined their musical talents to create a fresh, original sound that has captivated audiences. Blended had the chance to sit down with Alita and Devon to discuss their beginnings as a group, their creative process, and what's to come for Lohai.

Earlier this year you released your latest single "Neighborhood Secrets," can you tell me a little bit about the process of making and releasing that song?

Devon: Well, it was a long process, cause I think we started playing that song like two years ago. But I think sometimes it's good to wait at least a bit because you work so much out, you know, on stages, and playing for people, seeing what works. But also, with that song I just wasn't sure where to take it, eventually I kind of got this, kinda, border-line indie, it's got this like grungy sound, especially as it progresses. So it was a very long, drawn out process, just slowly figuring out the sounds that were going to work.

Alita: And then the music video that came along with it was very DIY. Mostly through connections of Devon's. We spent an entire day at this house, this beautiful old house. We had somewhat of a plan going into it, for the most part. But once we got there we really kind of just went with the flow and just developed ideas.

"Neighborhood Secrets" is a bit more somber than your last two singles, are you setting a tone for future music, inching away from the fun light-heartedness of  "Baby I Know You Will" and "With Your Body (Next to Mine)?"

Alita: I don't know about inching away from the style of the other tunes, because just thinking about the newer tunes that we have played live, they're definitely on the fun side and still uplifting stuff. But, I mean we want to be as real as it can get. We want to be true to ourselves and how we feel, especially in today's climate. So I feel like "Neighborhood Secrets" was kind of, I don't know, just our message. It was Devon's message to everybody, saying, it's okay to feel down, nobody's perfect, your family isn't perfect, my family isn't perfect. We all have our issues. So I think we're going to continue doing songs that are both light-hearted and deep and real. We're just trying to be honest.

Devon: That song is definitely the live song that gets the most feels. It's funny because the recording, it sounds so different. It sounds like a departure, from the previous singles, like you're saying. I've had this discussion with people in the past, saying, "What's your sound?" and I've realized I think so much of it is our live sound, because, if you put our songs next to each other it's like, "Woah, that was different." But when we play live with our band and everything, it definitely feels a lot more cohesive. Yeah, that's just like one of the sad songs you need to kind of keep people in check.

Where do you get inspiration for your music from?

Devon: I say Emily Kings is usually my first artist that I reference. I mean, I just admire so much about her songwriting, it's so concise and the production is so amazing. That's kind of like the level I want to get to, where it's "poppy" but you know it's also featuring a lot of acoustic instruments that make it still feel like songs that you can play on the guitar. I always go back to her.

Alita: It always comes back to Emily. She's definitely a stand-out artist for us. But also, I feel that in terms of actual inspiration for the writing, I feel like most of our songs are about relationships of some sort. Whether it's romantic or friendships or people that you run into obstacles with, if they're not treating you right, or you know, family dynamics. Definitely about people for sure.

Devon: It's so easy to write love songs, I guess. I feel like every time it starts as a love song my goal is usually to at least put some sort of spin on it, so it doesn't feel like a generic pop radio single. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just like the challenge.

What other soul-pop artists are you listening to currently?

Alita: We also like Lianne La Havas. We love Lianne La Havas. I've been checking out Maggie Rogers. She's really, really dope. I like her a lot.

Devon: Oh, I just got into Allie X. Her music has really cool production. Again, kind of definitely more on the pop side. But also this really awesome blend of like live instruments and pop production. Oh, and Kimbra!

Alita: Always Kimbra. Die hard Kimbra fan.

Devon: Jon Bellion. I mean I don't know if I'll ever produce like him, but I love his style and his songs are also really honest and just super vulnerable.

What's your favorite song to perform live and why?

Devon: I would probably say "With Your Body," cause we started doing dance moves now in this little breakdown. That's been really fun. We've only done it twice but, yeah.

Alita: I would agree with, "With Your Body." But also, honestly, "Neighborhood Secrets." 'Cause like in our live version we throw in a little Donny Hathaway in the middle of it, with "Someday We'll All Be Free," and then we include the audience in kind of like a call and response moment. I mean the song is already kind of heavy and so when audiences really give back what we're trying to give them, it's just a rush of emotion. We tear up all of the time on stage singing it. It's just moving, you know? But yes, on the lighter side, "With Your Body" is definitely a good choice, too.

Your band does a lot of smaller performances within NYC, is a national tour something you'd consider doing anytime soon?

Devon: For the most part, it just comes down to not being at a level where we have a fanbase in any of these places. We've played in San Francisco because we did a festival there, and then Jacksonville, Florida, also for a festival. I just know how exhausting it can be for a limited reward, both financially or like turnout, and you know we're paying our band, so it's just logistically, I don't think we're quite at that level yet. But, I think we are going to Europe at the end of March because we have a couple friends out there that were able to score us some really good gigs. So yeah, end of March, we're going to be playing in Germany, and maybe a few other cities, in other countries.

Alita: I always think of trying to start out a little smaller with the touring. Like we've played in Philly before as well, so maybe doing like a mini East Coast tour. Maybe like, Philly, New York, DC, and that's it. Just to test out.

You have yet to release an EP or album, and have instead released a single every year for the past three, why is that? Can we expect to see an album or EP any time soon?

Devon: I actually do think so. I've been the hold up in this process. I've been learning a lot, this has been kind of my first foray into production, and I've grown a lot in those three singles. But also, I keep realizing how seriously I take it, I think that works against me. But, I'm getting better and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of like, maybe our next thing could be like five new songs. I don't know if I could handle a full length yet.

Alita: We're building up to that. EPs are the trend now and it makes sense since everybody's attention span has like shrunk in half so I feel like even, yeah, like 4- or 5-song EP, is our best bet for the next move.

Devon: I'm starting to see it's coming together.

Check out Lohai's latest single "Neighborhood Secrets" on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services.

Lead Image Credit: Lohai / Instagram