Treologic is a seven piece hip-hop band consisting of Lance Loiselle (organ-keys-vox), Billa Camp (MC), Justin Boyd (drums), DJ Savage (scratches), Eric Koppa (tenor sax), Jordan Lopez (lead vox-percussion-trumpet-flugel-keys-flute) and Anthony Massaro (guitar-vox). The core members originally met at DePaul as an organ trio, but spent most of their time perfecting their rhythm section before finally deciding to add an MC and a DJ. Because of the elements of jazz and soul in their music they can be considered a "traditional" fusion band, but it's really the precision and balance of their work that distinguishes them from the rest.
Since 2000, Treologic has performed in over 400 shows with a number of high-profile acts including The Roots, Talib Kweli, The Beatnuts, Youngblood Brass Band, Heiruspecs and Liquid Soul. And the experience paid off in 2005, when the group took home first prize in the "Discmakers Independent Music World Series-Midwest" competition. It's released four albums (What's the Question, MixTape, Thank You Lenny and Colabo) all of which garnered critical praise.
Centerstage had an opportunity to sit down with organ player, Lance Loiselle, prior to the group's performance at Reggie's Rock Club on November 15.
How did you come together to form Treologic?
[We] started out as a jazz organ trio at Depaul then added an MC, DJ, and 35 personnel changes later, the rest is history.
What were some of those personnel changes?
As much as jazz music is my passion and my background, the music is, on the whole, too progressive for the club scene. There were a number of shows that we played as an instrumental outfit that didn't go well because there were no lyrics. I had also had the dream of starting a hip hop/jazz organ group - something like Wu-Tang meets Soulive. So after a year of establishing our sound as a rhythm section, we added an MC and a DJ.
What and who where some of your influences?
Initially it was a lot of jam-band groups like Soulive and Medeski Martin and Wood, but as we refined our sound and with the addition of Billa Camp, more hip-hop influences came into the picture. We get compared to The Roots a lot, but then again we are a hip-hop band! Lately we have been trying to genre-bend and include more indie rock into our hip-hop.
What are some of the projects that you're working on right now that support that train of thought?
Our newest album, Colabo mixes obvious genres with hip hop like R&B, soul, neo-soul, gospel, blues and rock. The newest round of recording that we're working on has some folk influence, some indie rock, a lot more heavy rock, electronic beats meeting live beats, and maybe a little avante gard fusion. Basically, the incorporation happens like this - we all bring music we are checking out and play it for each other at rehearsal and if we hear something we like, we sample it live and then build a song around it. Kind of like sampling in traditional hip-hop production but we do it live. And no genres are out of the question.
Mixing hip-hop and jazz can be a difficult thing to do. How do you know when to let one aspect motivate the sound rather than the other?
You have to make sure the beat is slamming – like NYC mid-'90s hip-hop (Native Tongues, A Tribe Called Quest, The Beatnuts) – and then everything else will sound less cheesy.
Having an MC perform with a live band is hard to do as well. How do you know when to let the MC speak and when to let the band do its thing?
It's always been a good mix of give and take. He understands his role as show keeper and lyricist and lets us have our space too. We've been working together for a few years now and it really isn't an issue. We have a mutual respect both on a musical and personal level.
Take me back to your first performance together.
One of the first was back at the old Lakeview Links – off Belmont around the corner from the Red Line. We had probably about 10 people on stage; organ, drums, guitar, MC, a singer, percussion, and horns. We'd been rehearsing for a few weeks and nailed it down. I think a lot of people in the room were blown away, but a little confused because our sound was so huge and they couldn't put their finger on where to put our music. It's somewhat similar today, but our sound is more refined and you know it's hip-hop when you listen to it.
Sounds intense. What's the driving force?
We drive each other. We've been doing our thing for a few years and have our formula. We check out pop culture and trends, but honestly we aren't driven by it. We make music for the sake of making good music and being innovative in what elements we can get away with. We make good songs with excellent musicians all over the city.