top of page

21 Questions with a Songwriter


Lou Beauty

Words by: E.Z.

Photography: Keaton Punch

 

Introduce yourself, what's your name?

Luis Velez,


How old are you?

Barely 24, I turned 24 in April.


Where are you from?

I’m from Bakersfield, CA.


Do you have a stage name like rappers do?

Lou Beauty.

What do you classify yourself as when it comes to making music?

I'm a songwriter and producer.


What is your favorite childhood memory?

Probably getting to be Spider-man for Halloween, it was after the first movie came out. A dude dressed as a scarecrow scared me at one house and made me end trick or treating early hahaha.

What's your first memory of falling in love with music or at what age where you when you really knew what music was?

When I was like 7 my parents bought a boom box and I would always go through their cd collection and listen through everything, especially this REM CD they had. They saw that I was super into how the guitars sounded so they put me into a guitar class but it was mariachi guitar so I wasn't into it. It turned me off from guitar for a minute until I got to like 4th grade and got into guitar hero and was able to hear the different tracks of the music isolated and understand rhythm and melody. So it took a bit to rediscover what I loved about music.

How many instruments do you play?

Guitar, bass, piano, ukulele, steel drums, tuba, baritone horn. I never learned drum set, I wish I had the space and the money for that lmao.

What's been the hardest instrument to learn?

They all come with their challenges. I'm primarily a guitarist and I don't think I'm anywhere close to being an expert. And there's so many different things to learn about music and music theory that you can apply differently to each instrument. I'm trying to think of guitar as a percussion and rhythmic instrument, and how I can build a melody on it like I would on a piano but have an inherent groove to it like a drum.

What's your relationship with music theory? I've heard the term before but I'm not educated on it.

Music theory is just a term to describe how notes relate to each other. I like to use it as a road map when writing. I'm not constantly thinking like "oh this is a 4th that I can flatten and use it to modulate to the relative minor" or whatever, I think that's too much and kind of kills the momentum of writing something. I like to use it to help me connect ideas and build on what I've already wrote.

Is that your main influence when it comes to how you write?

I try to write around a mood. I like chords and as long as I'm thinking of a central mood that's sort of what keeps the progression flowing and moving And once I have a good sense of what chords I like I build on that with extensions, making those really chunky jazz chords

Are you in a band?

I am. I have my own group, we perform as Lou Beauty and the Golden State. They're a super talented group of individuals and I learn a lot from them. When I write I'm a bit of a solo act but performing has really helped me think of my writing in a new context.


Who’s in your band?

Emile Antonell, amazing guitarist, producer, and mixing engineer. He's worked on a bunch of projects and is in his own group Western Medicine. Actually the rest of my group except for the bassist are all members of Western Medicine. Becca Spickler is his wife and my keyboardist, she has a crazy grasp on music theory and is a professionally trained concert percussionist, crazy talented individual. Chase Steiner is my drummer, he's an amazing bassist as well and a huge jazz guy, he gets work all over town. Andrew Barnett AKA Barney is my bassist and he's got a lot of experience playing punk, metal, and crazy fast genres but after he joined my band he's been doing indie projects a lot and is really good at stacking and choosing effects. Barney is also the bassist for Indigo Hush, another indie pop project.


When did you start the band?

July of last year, Emile and Becca offered to help me play my material live since they had been working on my last EP Agoraphobia with me. Chase had been wanting an opportunity to play drums and Barney had left a band he was in for a long time and hadn't played with anyone since before the pandemic so he had been wanting to get back out there. We got everyone together in July to play our first scheduled show that following august.


Does is ever get hard working on music with your band with everyone else being in involved in different projects and groups?

It does yeah, locking in schedules is super hard between shows and practices and recording. When I started my group I didn't want it to feel like a part time job like how I felt when I was part of other projects. At the end of the day I get to make music with my friends which is all I can really ask for


Do bands collaborate with other bands like rappers do?

Sometimes, but not in the same way. I would love to work with other artists and have features like vocals or other instrumentalists but the band scene definitely has the same collaborative approach as the hip hop scene. We all know everyone and are friends with everyone and do our best to show up and support each other at our shows and releases. I have definitely seen the bakersfield music scene expand to include all genres and acts, not just isolated and separated by genre. The same musicians that you can see helping out a rapper in a studio session you can also see backing a country band. Theres a lot of talent and good attitudes in this town that crosses over with a lot of different genres.

Has your band recorded any music videos?

Not really, but we have a video for the song bank account where Emile and Becca make a cameo and we have a full concert on YouTube through Bakersfield Sound co as well!

What's it like performing, I know it's a lot of work but what does it feel like performing live in front of a crowd?

It's awesome, I come from a theatre background so I really like being able to involve the crowd in my performances. Seeing everyone dance and raise their drinks and sing along to something you wrote is a really validating feeling.

What's been the hardest part of live performing?

Scheduling haha! I'm so busy and so is the rest of the band. We're all adults but I'm the youngest and I'm barely getting my life started - getting a job, getting married, finding a place - and getting all the responsibilities that come with it so a big challenge is finding time to balance everything and finding shows that fit with ALL our schedules.

Do you guys have any plans to do an album or EP?

As of right now, we are currently working on new stuff, no idea if it'll end up being a full length album or an EP or a mixtape or what. Every release I treat it as the next big project and I write as much as I can until I run out of ideas. So we'll see.

Do you have plan have anything planned in the immediate future?

We have a show coming up at 2nd Phase Brewing downtown on August 5th and another project that is coming up possibly sooner that I'm not sure if I can reveal any details about yet but it's a special one so be on the lookout.

bottom of page