We had the good fortune of connecting with Lowden Harrell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lowden, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve pursued an artistic career because I haven’t seen myself doing anything other than playing music! Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been interested in patterns and rhythms, starting as a baby with doodling on the instruments my grandpa made and continuing through high school and college with music studies. I’ve been enjoying playing my entire life and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon (and getting paid to do what I love is a big plus, too!)
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art has been apart of my life and my identity for as long as I’ve been able to form memories. Ever since I was born, music was on my mind, whether I was playing around on my grandpa’s instruments or playing pattern and rhythm-related computer games on my old Dell. At age 5 I took up piano lessons, Then, 2 years later, at the suggestion of my piano teacher I took up drums. The rest, as they say, was history after that.
I mainly studied classical/orchestral percussion with drum set as a side thing up until middle school, when I got into the jazz band and discovered bands like Tower of Power and Duke Ellington Orchestra. The music we played really opened my eyes to the fact that “jazz” wasn’t just a bunch of boring Glenn Miller tunes from the 30’s, but an umbrella term for a lot of music that could actually be really fun and gratifying to play. After being accepted into the Orange County School of Arts for jazz studies in high school, I was lucky enough to be able to play with some of the best possible musicians (for their age) at places like the Idyllwild Arts summer program and the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. Having the opportunity to play with these immensely talented people really allowed me to push myself to the next level and really dedicate myself to learning my craft.
After graduating from OCSA, I caught wind of a school called Saddleback College that has one of the best jazz studies programs in the state. So naturally I enrolled there, and attending ended up being one of the most enriching experiences of my life! Whether it was learning from West Coast legends like Ron Stout and Luther Hughes, fraternizing with the talented and open-minded students, or performing complicated big band music with guest artists like Ingrid Jensen and John Daversa, my experiences were absolutely invaluable. Outside of Saddleback, I was able to gain a lot, too.
After graduating from high school (and getting a car,) I had a lot more independence. So what did I do with that independence? I went to as many shows and jams as was humanly possible. Through these shows and jams I was able to network with countless musicians and artists alike. All this eventually led to the session work I do now and the bands I play in, particularly the bands Phoenyx & Phyre and Marble Blue. Playing and recording with these bands allowed me to have a fantastic outlet where I can take all of my creative influences and use them to shape our sound to how we all feel we sound best. I think Phoenyx & Phyre’s newest release “Phored” best explifies this. The album is a blend of every style you can think of and no 2 songs sound the same.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So my friend is coming into town and I have about a week to spend with them. Here’s what I would do:
Monday: Take a trip to LA to go spend some time at the Broad and look at art, stop by one of the hundreds of yummy ramen restaurants, maybe go to the shopping district for a discount on name brand clothes, then end the day by checking out the fantastic music at the Baked Potato in Studio City.
Tuesday: Since yesterday we walked around in LA all day, we’ll take a trip down to Laguna Beach, sneak into one of the “private” beaches and lounge around all day. Maybe we would stop by the Community Garden Park later and end the day with Karaoke at one of the local bars.
Wednesday: Disneyland. All day. (I know everyone that works there so we’ll probably get in for free one way or another.)
Thursday: We would take an early trip up to Joshua Tree, look at the sights on the way up and spend the night at a campground.
Friday: After coming back from Joshua Tree, we would take a short trip to the Orange Circle in Old Town Orange for shopping and sightseeing then end the day by stopping by the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana for an arthouse movie.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First I’d like to give a shoutout to one of my best friends and partner in rhythm, bassist Liam Coats. He’s been playing with me (and also graciously driving me around) for years and I think that’s going to be happening for many more to come. There’s not a single song that this guy can’t play. I purposefully will choose songs with incredibly difficult basslines just because I know he’ll be able to do it! Secondly, I’d like to shoutout my mom, Mary Baker. Without her continual love and support throughout my whole life, I probably wouldn’t even be doing what I love to do today. I can easily say she’s my biggest fan and has been to the most shows of anyone I know!
Lastly, I’d like to shoutout all of my teachers: Scott & Marley Rosner, Ruth Nix, Alan Hallback, Dan St. Marseille, Joey Sellers, Ariel Alexander, Paul Johnson, Jorge Bermudez & Bernie Dresel. Their knowledge, patience & tutelage have helped make me into the musician I am now.
Other: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (714) 787-6189
Main photo by: Rae Mystic All other photos: Vincent Neale and Michael Maiolo