lo/fi pioneer
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lo/fi pioneer

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""If Marvin Gaye ever made an indie rock album...""

If Marvin Gaye ever made an indie rock album, it might have sounded like Lo/Fi Pioneer’s Solid State. This Chicago trio takes an unpolished, indie slant on R&B, funk, and soul. Singer Aryk Crowder delivers like it’s 1974, while the band produces a modern rock aesthetic. It’s not overwhelmingly original, but give this band credit for pulling off an idea that looks horrible on paper. (www.myspace.com/lofipioneer)
– Joseph Simek - Illinois Entertainer

"Pioneer Performance"

Soul practically oozes out of Aryk Crowder as he speaks, and has driven him since he first picked up a guitar at the age of 15.

"I watched my mom play in bands for years and I guess after enough whining, begging, and pleading, my parents bought me my own guitar," says the frontman for lo/fi Pioneer. "I started taking lessons and started playing with friends ... it just kind of rolled on after that."

After a stint with hip-hop act Natural Selection, Crowder left to craft songs on his own in Chicago. In Crowder's small apartment, the band name for lo/fi Pioneer had its humble beginnings.

"I had the most ridiculous little set-up--this corner full of audio crap," he says. "My buddy, he said, 'This is the most lo-fi set-up I've ever seen.' So that's how lo/fi Pioneer came about."

Bassist Kevin Holt and drummer Tyrone Mitchell joined Crowder to become lo/fi Pioneer. The guys strive to reach an authenticity of soul in their music.

"There will never be any keyboard and nothing digital," Crowder says. "We just try to keep it as true to the core as possible. When you listen to those old Marvin Gaye records ... there's nothing digital in there."

Lo/fi Pioneer took that mind-set into studio to produce its debut record "Solid State." It's a strong accomplishment, considering the band is still independent. But Crowder finds more pride in their live act.

"We try to put ourselves in each and every performance," Crowder says. "Being able to play music that expresses us, and being able to play it live in front of people that enjoy it ... it's fantastic."

[ michael schmitt is a redeye special contributor. ]
Published October 10,2007
- Chicago Tribune/RedEye

""Lo/Fi Pioneer is set for a great future.""

...Lo/Fi Pioneer--singer-songwriter-guitarist Aryk Crowder, bassist Kevin Holt, drummer Tyrone Mitchell--uses R&B as a jumping off point for their brand of rock and roll, but unlike the former band, who cite funkier influences like Talking Heads and Sly & the Family Stone, Lo/Fi’s approach to R&B takes a smoother route; when I listen to songs like “Into the Groove”, “Got To Know” and “Watch Me Burn”, I think of 70’s bands like Steely Dan, late-period Doobie Brothers and Ambrosia, and believe me that’s high praise indeed because all three of those bands made extremely high quality, sophisticated and memorable music.

Crowder’s vocals do sound like a cross between Lenny Kravitz and Ben Harper, and no doubt this CD will be compared to Kravitz, as well as Prince, John Mayer, and even Dave Matthews, but Crowder is smart enough to create his songs from the original influences as opposed to the secondary ones. And this music goes beyond imitation, as is often the case with truly talented people, to become something far more potent and long lasting.

Crowder knows how to write a great groove--I defy anyone not to be able to tap their feet to “Thick”--and Solid State is nothing if not extremely well crafted for an independently released CD. Although there is a slight sameness to these tracks toward the end, it’s not fatal enough of a problem to deter from the overall quality of the music in general. If Crowder can keep his vision fresh and not fall into a rut, I would say that Lo/Fi Pioneer is set for a great future.

Written By: Gina Morris
Jan 2007
- EOM Entertainment

"Southside on the Town - 01.28"

Sunday, 28 January 2007
…modern sound [yet] keeping the 60s & 70s classics alive… ~ LoFi Pioneer

Hey, Fearless fans, SouthSide made a very special Sunday appearance at Wise Fools Pub to enjoy a performance of smooth R&B/soul sound. Briefly she met the trio of LoFi Pioneer at the Elbo Room during the A Birdsong Valentine show. After visiting their myspace page and listening to their CD, this Fearless reviewer highly suggests you catch their next show on Valentine’s Day at Mother’s with A Birdsong Valentine. The band’s awesome music and lyrics reminded her of the days when artists actually sang with passion and without electronic voice tracks. Or what the older generation today would call “old school”. LoFi Pioneer has truly kept that feel and tone of music alive especially when performing classic R&B/Soul renditions such as Al Green, Sly and the Family Stone, and Bill Withers. Yet it was this type of modern sound which attracted young and old to their show Sunday night. Aryk (LoFi Pioneer’s guitarist on vocals) said it best after their set ‘we’re performing music free from the electronic sound …the way it would be back in the day before digital.’ Well, Fearless fans, what was old is new again. This performance was hip and refreshing and SouthSide was happy to hear it again.

LoFi Pioneer’s name came from the premise of how classic R&B songs would sound like on 8-track tapes (the 70s version of CDs). Also it came from a friend mentioning the sound quality and speaker setup in Aryk’s apartment and thus the makings of the band was born. The current members of this trio have been together since October and have already played in such venues like the world famous Double Door and Elbo Room. As the band opened their Wise Fools show, SouthSide could hear the many musical influences from each band member from just a couple of beats and rhythms. Each band member brought their own distinct flavor and sound which gave the opening song, Follow Through, its funky rhythm and soul. From their influences in gospel and the blues (Tyrone, LoFi’s beats on drums) to funky soul (Kevin, LoFi’s cool bassist) to a diverse and eclectic music background (Aryk), this trio definitely captures that smooth, soulful sound terribly missed in today’s digital age. Aryk’s deep vocals were ripe with emotions when they performed the Al Green classic Love and Happiness. Their unique spin on this song had this reviewer ready to break out with some stepper’s moves while singing along with the band. The band really encouraged the audience to sing and dance during their set. One brave soul actually did and he treated us to some of his funky dance moves near the stage. Brian of A Birdsong Valentine received cheers and applause from the mellow crowd for his little impromptu dance. She enjoyed the sultry intro of the thumping bass and funky instrumental bridge at the middle. Not one ounce of soul and passion was lost from this 1975 R&B classic. They followed with Sly and the Family Stone’s Sing A Simple Song, which truly paid homage to the great R&B/Soul artists, while adding LoFi’s modern spin at certain points.

SouthSide’s favorite R&B classic performed that night was Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. This was one HOT cover and had SouthSide feeling every ounce of the agony, pain and passion in the lyrics. You didn’t just hear how lonely and sad life was without this woman, you actually felt deep in your soul. It was one powerful rendition of this 1971 song with some added modern spin that made it just plain smokin’ awesome. Other hot covers performed by LoFi included: Voodoo Chile / Fire - funked up rock with amazing fingering on the guitars and Easy which the band asked the audience’s assistance in singing during the chorus. Their rendition of His Purple Majesty’s Purple Rain had SouthSide head over heels from all the emotions Aryk poured into the microphone. LoFi was tearing up the stage instrumentally with Prince’s 1984 hit. Whew, these guys literally put every bit of themselves into that cover though this reviewer was expecting some Prince-like antics from Aryk as they finished the song.

LoFi Pioneer’s Wise Fools set wasn’t just about classic R&B covers. They mixed some of their original songs in there as well, giving the audience a taste of the old and new combined. This was where the “Pioneer” portion of the band’s name comes into play. It’s the band’s vision to maintain a blend a modern R&B/Soul sound in their songs. Aryk said he wanted the songwriting to come across like a bit of Duncan Sheik but not trying to be like them. He wanted to stay true to himself and to the band’s vision. He also wanted to have that emotional connection from the people while LoFi’s performing. So he wrote songs putting a lot of emotions and the more audience feels that emotion, the more the guys feel it back. SouthSide was definitely feeling those emotions from Aryk’s lyrics and vocal when he sang LoFi’s original compositions however she could also feel it from Tyrone (on drums) and Kevin (on bass). Though Aryk’s vocals had most excited whenever he sang, it was the drum-bass freestyle that had this reviewer dancing in her chair. Their mini jam sessions between songs as he tuned his guitar were truly on fire! The funky bass tempo and lively but steady drum rhythms kept the audience quite entertained until Aryk was ready to begin the next song. While performing Follow Through at the open of their set, their bass and drum rhythms created a unique R&B sound behind Aryk’s smooth vocals. His lyrics to this particular song, in SouthSide’s opinion, portrayed a desired passionate feel that was echoed by all three musicians.

If the sound guy had turned up the monitors a bit, the audience would have heard more of the amazing music LoFi was pumping through the speakers. For example, during Thick, Aryk’s microphone wasn’t delivering the full effect of his soulful emotions and the audience lost some of that R&B sound the band wanted to feature, Fearless fans. Despite this minor setback within their performance, LoFi’s new song still jammed with that modern R&B sound that SouthSide was grooving to. Got To Know had that old school rhythm from the guitar and the slow jam tempo from the bass and drum. SouthSide enjoyed grooving to Aryk’s smooth vocals on the lyrics that she could feel every word deep inside as they seductively echoed over the microphone. Listening to this song on MySpace and then live at Wise Fools, was just an amazing comparison. SouthSide was so overwhelmed, she had to stop reviewing and soak up all the amazing sounds of LoFi. Roses and their last song for the night, By The Way You Dance, had this Fearless reviewer wanting more of the modern as well as classic R&B songs. Even though the audience enjoyed the set, Tyrone felt there was something missing from LoFi's show. He thought we didn't get the full effect of their music like LoFi planned for Sunday's show.

What’s next for LoFi Pioneer? The guys will be appearing live in studio on the New Music Binge with host Rocco and sexy Kris (heard Mon thru Thurs from 4p to 7p CST) on Tuesday the 13th, promoting their Mother’s Valentine’s show. Also they’re currently working and recording on their 1st CD and setting their sights on performing at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Perhaps they will be around Chicago’s many fests that will be happening this summer. If you miss their Mother’s Valentine’s Day show, don’t fret, Fearless fans. Check out their March 16th show at Fizz or April 12th show at Elbo Room. SouthSide highly recommends you check out the old school and modern R&B music of her new friends, LoFi Pioneer, at www.lofipioneer.com or www.myspace.com/lofipioneer. Listen to their version of Look Of Love, which wasn’t performed at Wise Fools but is still one of her favorite LoFi songs.

SouthSide thanks Aryk, Tyrone and Kevin of LoFi Pioneer for the opportunity of interviewing them after their Wise Fools show and cannot wait to hear them again.

Until next time, Fearless fans, support your local indie artists and music.



Last Updated ( Friday, 09 February 2007 )
- FearlessRadio.com


Solid State (EP)



Started from a 4-track tape recorder in the corner of studio apartment, Aryk Crowder began laying the groundwork for what would later become lo/fi pioneer.

Drawing influences from R&B greats Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Crowder set out to cultivate a refreshing sound, free of electronics and true to soul – pioneering organic blends of pop and funk through low fidelity means.

lo/fi pioneer’s sound became complete with the introduction of Chris Spann and David Opio, rounding out the trio on bass and drums, respectively. Shortly thereafter, the group hit the studio and recorded their inaugural 3-track demo. The music, impressive enough to book the group at landmark venues in their hometown of Chicago, including the Double Door, Wise Fools Pub and Elbo Room, remains true to the visions created in that original 300sq. foot apartment.

With nods to legendary artists Sly & the Family Stone, Prince, James Brown, Al Green and Bill Withers, the sets are balanced with crowd pleasers and uplifting originals.

With a more than handfuls of live shows under their belts, lo/fi pioneer is quickly turning little ripples into waves as they support their 8 song EP