Modern Griots Interview: Lachi
In their single, “Bug Out,” Lachi and Meridian Gold declare living life and not letting hate stop you from being yourself. As a talented singer, musician and writer who was born to Nigerian parents and is legally blind, Lachi knows the feeling personally. And she hasn’t let anything stop her. She has received a master’s degree in music technology from NYU, released three albums (Lachi, Ugly Beautiful and And This Is My Life), written novels, and performed on the same stage with the likes of Patti LaBelle and Questlove of the Roots. In my interview with her below, Lachi discusses how music has helped her with her feelings of being an outcast, about accepting oneself and others (quirks and all), spreading awareness about blindness and blind artists, and her own experiences as a musician and writer.
1) How has your background and experiences growing up influence your career in music?
2) Who are your major musical influences?
Radiohead, Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins, The Beatles, Mozart, Yanni, Ella Fitzgerald, and anyone else who was a pioneer, a black swan, an inventor, a genre all on their own!
3) You have opened for the likes of Patti Labelle Questlove of the Roots, and Jennifer Owen Young, and featured on Oprah Radio, CBS Radio, CW Morning News. How were those performances and how were you able to receive those opportunities?
Those performances were tons of fun. We opened for Patti LaBelle at Pridefest Milwaukee, one of the largest pride festivals in the world! Allowing us to showcase in front of thousands of people. It was an awesome experience! Being on CW News, Oprah Radio and other national radio shows, really opened for a lot of exposure. It’s always weird having a friend call you up and say, wow, I’m listening to you on the radio or watching you right now!
4) I read that you are legally blind and that growing up you were withdrawn and quiet. How did music help you and how did the different aspects of yourself shape your creative career?
Because I didn’t have too many friends growing up due to my visual impairment, I kept to myself a lot. I also dealt a lot with bullying and misgivings. I would spend a lot of time writing songs about my experiences and feelings. Words I couldn’t say or simply had no one to say to. It was definitely a way to cope and has been my life-support ever since. Music has given me everything I have and am.
5) How are you helping to break stereotypes and misconceptions about blindness and disability?
Many people think (though a long time coming, I’ve finally learned to forgive them for it) that disabled people are not very bright, cannot accomplish much, or do much physically, are slow to learn, are unhappy, and don’t or can’t work in the work force. How do I help break the stereotypes? I work 10 hours a day for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Operations Division – Regulatory Branch and have received a Commander’s Achievement Award and a Commander’s Appreciation award. I ran some track in high-school, I have published a novel. I’ve put out two albums and have toured the Nation. I’ve graduated with a Bachelors and Masters from two top US-News Top 50 schools, and am definitely not unhappy! I say this because I feel the best way to break stereotypes about disabled people, is to be a disabled person that breaks all the stereotypes.
6) You wrote a novel in high school called, Dante’s Destiny. Can you give more information about it? How does it and your music handle ideas about alienation and being an outsider and outcast?
I wrote the novel during the height of my outcast years. It, just like my music, aimed to introduce the realness we all have inside of us that separates us from anyone else. One can’t realize they’re awesomeness, until they really seclude themselves from the constantly moving world around them, and truly focus on their inner selves. The self that makes them different, compassionate, quirky. It’s the spark that makes you not feel lonely, even when you are alone. Dante’s Destiny touches on some of these concepts.
7) Why do you think it is important to embrace our differences and quirkiness?
If everyone was able to truly embrace their differences, they would be able to thus accept the differences of others. The main problem we face in society today, I believe, is people’s fear and ignorance of things that are different…but it is because people don’t actually truly understand themselves, and deny their inner-weird. Once they accept themselves, they will accept others, and the world will just be awesome!
8 ) How have listeners been able to relate to your music?
Well, again, there is a universal problem we all face, and it is the inability to just be ourselves a lot of the time. I focus much on this, on just being real, on self-acceptance and the acceptance of others, because that is something we all struggle with. We don’t all struggle with a cheating boyfriend, or getting trashed at parties….but we do all struggle with ourselves and our confidence and our voice….and that’s what I write about. That divine spark within us, our soul? our spirit? whatever it is that makes us real and conscious….that spark is compassionate and all-loving. But we build all of these defenses upon it, to protect it…such as jealousy, anger, humor, hate, sadness, lies, false-happiness, denial….anything to protect the fact that we are really all just innocent children that want to love and be loved. Sorry, I’m rambling now… :)
9) What advice do you have for other artists trying to get in the door and make it in music?
Be smart. Be confident. But most importantly, be good to people.
10) What are you currently working on and what are your future plans with your music?
We are currently working on the next album “Make Some Noise” to be released this Fall, with the title track single slated to come out September 25th! The album has some awesome guests and cool surprises. Very excited!
11) Where can people see you and find more information about you?
They should check out www.lachimusic.com or on facebook, twitter, youtube! There you can find videos, music, news and upcoming dates!