by: Thomas D. Mooney
We caught up with Dallas-based neo-soul singer-songwriter Larry Gayao–more commonly known as Larry g(EE)–to talk about the last few years of his life as a songwriter and artist. He’s currently working on a follow-up album, his first proper full-length, to his breakout debut EP Weekends.
He’s making his return to The Blue Light with an 11-piece band in tow. Saturday (Feb 07), will be his first return to The Blue Light in quite some time, but like many things, it only takes a few moments for everything to snap back into sync and fee like home again. Fellow DFW songwriter Kirby Brown will be opening up the show–which you can read our interview with Brown here. Presale tickets can be purchased here.
Watch/Listen to “Yo Mama” from Larry g(EE) below.
New Slang: So you’re in the studio today. What’s literally the last thing you done?
Larry g(EE): We were working on the different sounds for a drum [laughs]. Sonic stuff.
NS: Yeah. That’s the thing, when people think of musicians recording albums, they don’t ever think of those things that take up the most amount of time.
LG: No they don’t [laughs]. It’s interesting. I’m not really as technical when it comes to stuff like this, however my producer and collaborator in this project, Beau Bedford, he’s really a stickler for that stuff. He really wants a precise sound and sometimes you’re spending hours on that one thing. It’s one of those things that make albums really cool and distinct.
NS: Yeah. I was going to ask you about Beau. Feels like he’s working with just about everyone who’s doing cool things in the DFW area right now. I’ve never met Beau or spoken with him, but I’ve interviewed so many artists who are working with him. For you, what do you think he does that brings the best parts of you out as an artist?
LG: I think there’s an honesty thing. There’s a lot of respect back and forth. That’s not to say I haven’t respected others who I’ve worked with, but it’s like a family member kind of thing. You never want to lie to your family. I have so much respect for him as a person outside the studio. When he’s pushing me in the studio, I know it’s coming from a good place.
NS: Yeah. He’s worked with a lot of what I’d call blues-based rock bands. You’ve got more of this vintage pop and soul sound. There has to be some great versatility there from him to be able to pick up what’s best for various styles and sounds. Do you know if he approaches working with you differently than say a four-piece rock band?
LG: He’s almost like a chameleon when he works. He can go from what we’re doing here to working on a folk record like he did with Wesley Geiger to a rock record like he did with The Roomsounds. I feel like one day I’m going to say that I worked with him before everything blew up for him.
NS: That’s interesting. Like you have this sense that he’s going to be nationally recognized and known by the masses as a great record producer.
LG: Yeah. He’s really like an old soul when it comes to music, but we’re in this modern world. The sounds, regardless if they have this classic feel, they still come across as modern in a way.
NS: This whole DFW scene is just getting better and better. There’s these bands–specifically the Bedford army–that I guess you can’t describe in a sentence or two, but you know that something incredible is currently happening. There’s this interesting surge of creative energy happening. And even though there’s a lot of varied styles and bands are all doing their own thing, when you hear them all, you know it’s connected somehow.
LG: I think you kind of hit it on the head. It’s cool to see someone in the press picking up on it. You know, a lot of these artists here are getting national press. Leon Bridges, Quaker City Night Hawks. I think it is this hotbed for up and coming music. At the same time, I don’t see it that way since it’s always been that way. I guess it’s one of those times when the spotlight turns and it’s on this area now. I really do believe in the scene here. There’s a lot of things here that get me excited. It’s kind of given me an opportunity to sit back and watch things take shape. We haven’t released anything since 2011. A lot has changed in that period of time. Myself and Beau, we’ve changed together and separately. You learn and grow so much. Basically, we’re taking our time with this record to ensure what’s there is good.
NS: Since it has been about four years since the last EP, is there ever a part of you that is worried or is thinking that maybe you’ve waited too long between releasing recorded material? I hope we’re still relevant. Anything like that creep in?
LG: I really don’t think about that. I’m sure there are a lot of people who do. I still see myself as a struggling, up and coming artist. As far as staying relevant, there’s a lot of things that artists can do to stay relevant, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the music. I’m kind of relishing the moment of when we do release new music. Taking on that challenge is like starting over in a way. But, I’ve always been about the hustle–the humble hustle is what I call it–of the business. It’s staying on the grind. I tell artists who come to me for advice to just put blinders on. Stay focused on what you have to do. Be happy for the success of other musicians, but don’t compare your career and theirs. So I don’t really have any fears. Beau and I have been doing this for a while. We’ve seen the peaks and the valleys. Seeing those valleys, it really makes you appreciate the beauty of music and what we do have.
You know, actually what I’m afraid of is ever putting something out there just for the sake of putting something out there. I want to put out something that I truly believe in. That’s what was so great about Weekends. Every song, even though it was only four songs, there was a story to each of those. We stood behind those. It wasn’t just calling it. Those are all meaningful songs to us. It’s crazy to think that it was released in 2011, but to this day, we still get recognized for it. We don’t know how, we take it. At the end of the day, good music will prevail. Good music is good music regardless. That’s what I really fear–making music that’s not. I’m not trying to write the next Weekends. I’m just trying to write something that’s pure.
NS: Yeah. Weekends really does have this blend of soul, pop, and Mo-town. It has his vintage feel. Neo-soul. What are you guys doing to expand that this time around? Is there like bullet points that you and Beau have gone over on things you wanted to expand and experiment more on or anything?
LG: I will say that one of the main things has been the word evolve. On Weekends, some of the inspiration from my end was Mark Ronson’s Version. The stuff he did with Amy Winehouse. That kind of vibe. Beau was more on the classic side of things. Like Joe Cocker. Leon Russell. It was kind of combining those two together. As far as the evolution, the first song we’re releasing, it’s so different. It takes some of the r&b, but less so on the classic and more so on the pop sense. So it’s maybe a little more Hall & Oates. We’re dabbling with different things. I’m excited about that.
When we did Weekends, we got on the Warped Tour and did 26 dates. From that, we had some really good press and heat. We got put on Kimmel. As great as all that was for us, it opened so many doors where you’re continuously pushing and playing what you put out years ago. I think within that time frame, 2012 to about a year ago, creatively, we didn’t have time for it. We couldn’t stop so it kind of stunt the whole creative process. But magically, some time opened up for both of us and it was in December and January. We went into his home studio and cut some demos that we thought were cool. I think the evolution though in short, is that it’s more pop.
NS: That’s cool. I don’t think people understand what pop music is. They don’t understand that there is great pop music out there. There’s great pop senses in other music. Like they look down upon it for no other reason than the cultural pressure to do so. But I’m a fan of great music, regardless if it’s pop or not.
LG: Oh yeah. Definitely. I wouldn’t say we’re going full on pop or anything, but I think the elements are there. It’s certainly a mixture. You know, the folks at the Blue Light and in Lubbock, they’ve not seen what we’ve been doing in a while so all this is going to be fresh. We’re all aware of that. It’s going to be an interesting progression to see where we’re able to push the envelope. We do want it to come across genuine.
NS: You were in this band called ODIS. One of my good friends is Bristen [Phillips] (who played bass guitar for ODIS.)
LG: Oh yeah? He’s such a good guy. That was like my initiation into music, if you will. Everyone wants to try and make it. They want to be in a band. We put that together and had a nice little run. I learned so much. Bristen in particular, he introduced me to so many bands. I think that really opened up my palate. The time with ODIS, I call that my high school years. I learned a lot about the good and the bad about the music business.
NS: I’ve heard a lot of stories about ODIS the past few years. Stories from Bristen and other guys. People who’ve talked about this band and how important they were. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but at least the picture I get is that there’s this borderline cult band feel these days. I don’t know.
LG: Oh really [laughs]?
NS: Yeah. I’m serious [laughs]. It’s this mixture of stories about you guys when you were supposed to open for The Roots and Blue Light tales.
LG: That’s awesome. A lot of the people in the band now, I don’t think they realize how much of this is like a reunion and a revisiting of the past for me. I’m looking forward to it. That’s crazy; cult following [laughs].
NS: A lot of other people in bands have mentioned you guys as a pioneering band for what’s going on now. That kind of thing. Like the Jonathan Tyler guys. I know I’ve heard Jordan [Cain] and Brandon [Pinckard] talk about you guys a lot.
LG: Wow. That really means a lot. I really respect those guys. That’s who we really grew up with on the scene. Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights. Bands like The Orbans. We’d play shows all together. It’s cool to see that even though we only came out with one album, that we were able to make a mark. It’s really nice to hear that.
NS: Yeah. I’ve listened to the album. It was all a little before my time here, but I really like it. Real quick, going back to this upcoming album, when are you thinking you’ll have it released and everything?
LG: We don’t really know yet, but we do have a single being released in March. We have that lined up for sure.