Music Profile | So Loki

So Loki knows there's strength in specificity. Just like how Drake anchored his Toronto experience by name-dropping the TTC Metro, Fort York apartment complexes, and the fine Italian cuisine at Sotto Sotto, the  Vancouver hip-hop duo's latest EP, Baggage, is packed with plenty of 604-specific wordplay. Possessed by producer Geoffrey "Natura" Millar's extra thicc snap beat and manically poked faux-xylophone sounds, the collection's "Ratchet Demons" has vocalist Sam Lucia giving a shout-out to city in-joke/hang out spot Dude Chilling Park. Though officially named Guelph Park , a rogue art installation replicating a city sign smart-assedly rebranded the spot in honour of the ultra-relaxedReclining Figure metal sculpture lounging on a modest mound of grass. Even if it's a prank gone too far, it's redefined the culture and language of the area. With their flash-forward beats and twitchy rhymes, So Loki are trying to do the same.

"I like to think of us as Dude Chilling Park because we're kind of like that one thing that popped up and everyone was just like, 'yeah, sure, we'll let them keep running with this,'" Lucia explains dryly over a pint at Main Street Brewery, a craft beer room about a half-block down from the locale in question. "It's a 'ha-ha' to a lot of people, but Dude Chilling Park comes up on Google Maps. That's just as serious as Staples, or Home Depot!"

The punch lines can land hilarious or harrowing on Baggage.  On "Crib," Lucia waxes on Vancouver money woes, the city's ever-increasing housing crisis, and the necessity of discount supermarket chain No Frills' bargain basement deals. Though 2016 releases Supermanic and V have brought the twosome some international press and thousands of streams across YouTube and Spotify, the duo are still, as "Crib" puts it, "pushing pennies" as they level up.

"We're not rich--I still live out in English Bay in the rattiest apartment," Lucia notes, though he's getting ready to leave a job selling watches to "assholes" in favour of focusing on So Loki and their self-run Owake Records. Millar's day job as an all-ages ice skating instructor is less egregious than his partner's, but he's also hoping to take the plunge as a full-time artist. Despite some personal and financial sacrifices, Millar and Lucia are hoping putting their all into So Loki will make their catalogue richer in the long-run.

"How do you hold a relationship if you're going to be in a studio for 18 hours a day, when you know that's what you should spend in there," Lucia questions aloud of his grind. "Are you going to go and see your family? Are you going to go spend that extra money so you can eat healthy, or are you going to make the decision to eat ramen and smoke a bunch of weed and make the best songs you've ever written. It's all these Hail Marys we're throwing."

That said, So Loki have run into some luck ahead of the release of Baggage, with the early May video premiere for woozy, boozed-up banger "Liquid Luck" racking up over 100,000 views in less than a week. Though currently riding a wave of pre-release hype, they're not resting on the accolade. If their non-stop blast of studio-set Instagram moments is any indication, the band are already setting their sights on their next project.  Millar confirms: "The past three days I decided  'you know, I'm going to make 20 songs and I'm going to send them over to Sam."

Though So Loki are pushing themselves into the public eye, how the music world unpacks Baggage remains thrilling unclear to the duo. Calling lead single "Liquid Luck" a "make-your-own-adventure song," Lucia concedes that the song could be interpreted just as easily as a suds-flying turn-up anthem as much as it could a vomit-stained warning on club life. Part of the fun is letting listeners decide.

"We're starting a relationship with a lot of people right now," Lucia says, in light of the attention. "Once you're willing to undress yourself in front of everyone, it can either scare people away or it can make them love you. This is definitely our point where we really said, 'Fuck it, you can have whatever you want'".

Photo: Mats Schram

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