The Vancouver rap duo is “looking to win”
Justin Scott // Managing Editor
Last November, Discorder magazine held a showcase of Vancouver’s up-and-coming hip-hop talents headlined by So Loki. As they took the Media Club stage, an energy filled the room. The night had already seen a diverse selection of artists, but none had the presence that the duo of Sam Lucia and Geoff Millar carried.
Midway through their set, Lucia’s mic cut out in the middle of their best-known song at the time, “Birthday”. While other performers may have been shaken, Lucia thrived in the moment. Dropping the mic, the bar-spitting front man ascended one of the stage’s monitors, grabbed and hung off a pipe attached to the ceiling, and belted out the rest of the lyrics as loud as he could. As memorable as this moment was, it wasn’t surprising for the duo. Lucia and Millar have made a name for themselves by being more than just a talented group – they know that to find success they can’t let anything get in their way, and in their eyes, they have no other option.
Approaching the two-year anniversary of their debut mixtape SUPERMANIC, the two have had a whirlwind 24 months. Before So Loki, there was Natura, Millar’s previous electronic project, while Lucia was releasing solo records under his name. Then, after a chance encounter at an Indian sweets store and bonding over Kanye West’s prolific album Yeezus, they entered the studio together.
“I think what Yeezus kind of stood for at the time was a really interesting one for us because we both like so many genres of music, but never really had that kind of trifecta of this triumphant, angsty, electronic something, and that’s all we knew how to do at the time. So really I think that fit the skillset,” Lucia explained.
From that point on, the pair dedicated their creative output to what is now known as So Loki, a dynamic rap group with Millar producing and Lucia providing the lyrics. Their name’s origins, however, are a little uncertain. “I don’t even know. I think he (Lucia) said low key Jesus, but like l-o-w k-e-y Jesus, and I was like, ‘no man,” Millar recalled.
Since then, So Loki has gone on to release a number of EPs, singles, mixtapes and on Oct. 6, Shine, their debut studio album. “Shine was the album where we knew we were doing a huge level up right after it,” said Lucia. “We wanted the album to be something that could resonate with people for a while, so that in the meantime, while we’re trying to do this level up, people have something to take in.”
Shine did just that, and the two didn’t take long to “level up.” The duo sat down outside Breka on Robson Street to enjoy one of Vancouver’s last beautiful days before its notorious winter engulfed the city, to discuss their album and future. The night before, their recently released video for “Bet,” a single off Shine, had been covered by Hypebeast.com and had since been receiving thousands of views. The trendsetting website covered the video, partially because it had been shot solely on an iPhone 7, something that speaks to the creative process of the group. “People started saying, ‘oh my god, everything you guys are doing seems planned.’ It’s planned a few nights before, or the night of, and that’s how a lot of it works,” Lucia admitted. “So the idea of working on our feet works like that.”
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And work on their feet they did. The video for “Bet” wasn’t planned, but was a spur of the moment production. Lucia and Millar were at a wedding in Manning Park when they decided it would be the perfect location to film the video. Lucia can remember Millar coming up with the idea and how quickly it came together. “The first night Geoff was like, ‘Let’s just shoot a video,’ and he starts filming on the phone, and we did that for three straight days, morning and night.”
However, don’t let So Loki’s casual demeanour fool you. While individual happenings may be planned last minute, they have not found the levels of success they’re currently enjoying without a vision and hard-ass work. In fact, after collaborating for only a few days, the two had already planned years in advance. “It didn’t take more than a week of us working together for us to get to the point of asking ourselves, ‘Okay, where do we want to be 20 years from now?’” Lucia said. The two conjured up plans far greater than a simple rap group — they wanted to create a community. First, they started Owake Records, their own label. The duo looks up to collectives like Top Dog Entertainment (TDE) for their work ethic and in-house production style, something that they’ve come to embrace themselves. And through a mixture of talent, vision and a combined work ethic, So Loki has gone from a project to a career.
Lucia can still remember the moment things changed for the two. “We ended up playing FVDED (In the Park) and we had this big decision on what the hell do we do next? So, we both ended up leaving our jobs.” Prior to that, Lucia and Millar worked day jobs, rehearsed and wrote seven days a week and had time for nothing else. And as much as they have more time for their music now, they allow themselves very little free time. “It’s actually hilarious because we don’t do anything else,” Lucia said. “What’s crazy is that I see Geoff seven days a week.” It’s been less than a month since Lucia and Millar sat outside Breka, and they’ve only seen more success since. They released a new single, “HBO”, as well as have been featured on other local artist’s singles. Additionally, they gave a guest lecture at the Nimbus School of Recording Arts and as usual, are constantly teasing upcoming projects across their social media.
Not only are the two excited about their own successes, as Millar explained, they’re excited about the current state of rap in general. “It’s like with rock when punk came in, I feel like it’s a very similar feeling. I love what all the new artists are doing too, like I love Lil Pump. As much as I don’t really like it, then I’m like, ‘ok, I fuck with it, this shit’s pretty cool, I get what it’s doing.’”
“You have to appreciate it because, Lil Pump, I see in the same way as Britney Spears,” Lucia further elaborated. “Britney Spears came out at such a young age talking about such adult content, and the old people are sitting like, ‘What is going on?’ but the young people are like, ‘Oh my god, it’s Britney bitch.’”
And the youth is something that So Loki see as invaluable. “They’re the future,” said Millar. However, Lucia and Millar see younger artists making mistakes as they attempt to find similar success. “You are smoking too much weed and you’re not working hard enough,” Lucia said with a laugh. “And no one cares that your friend likes your music, you have to make something that your friend wants to hand to another person which a lot of the time means that you have to work all the time.” Millar had words of the same sentiment. “Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t look two months from now, look at what you can do today. And don’t do lean,” he said.
The duo plans to soon take their electrifying live show from the 19-plus venues of Vancouver, to all-ages venues, where all their fans, no matter what age can enjoy their performances. “We’re going in knowing that someone’s going to pay us good money tonight so that we make people want to come back, and not come back to the venue, or come back for the programming, but come back for us,” Lucia affirmed.
Once this vision comes to fruition, the two’s status of Vanguards of Vancouver will only be confirmed. But, as much as Vancouver is undeniably a large part of the duo’s music, they have a love-hate relationship with the glass city. “We’re living in the most glorified ghetto ever and it’s sick.” Lucia said. “I think we all kind of know what’s happening and that’s the inside joke, that’s why we’re able to win right now is because everyone is saying, ‘yeah, I’m paying way too much for nothing,’ but at the same time, it’s beautiful and we’re all smoking weed, so really what do we have to complain about. So, you have to be able to go back and forth, and some people really hate that we change our opinion.”
For now, So Loki is focusing on their future and working harder than ever and in Millar’s words, being fearless. “I think mostly for us, it’s just about being fearless and being yourself, you know? Being fearless to do anything you want to do, anything’s possible. Some people will say that, but to what extent will you actually do that?”