Pique Newsmagazine, 2020
Arts & Life
by Brandon Barrett
Lozen digs deep on Goal Digger
Sea to Sky hip-hop songstress merges the musical and the spiritual on latest album
Hip-hop, generally speaking, has never been all that interested in spiritual matters. Many a rapper has evoked God in their verses, sure—hell, Kanye’s whole son-of-God shtick has basically defined the second half of his career, if you forget the whole MAGA hat thing—but it’s usually in the form of a ridiculous brag (also Kanye: “I am a God/hurry up with the damn massage”) or a reckoning with some unspeakable deed (Prodigy: “Lord forgive me, the Hennessy got me not knowin’ how to act”).
So yeah, rap has always been concerned with the soul, the thin line between good and evil, the inevitable tug of temptation into sin. But faith? Spiritual practice? Self-discipline? The quiet work of inner exploration? That’s a bit harder to find.
This historical dividing line, rap’s own separation of church and state, might help explain why Sea-to-Sky hip-hop artist Lozen had been so reluctant to merge two parts of her life that now seem so naturally intertwined.
“I’m recognizing that music is a part of my spiritual practice and that everything I do can be, in a sense, an act of devotion on my soul path,” she says.
“Previous to Goal Digger, I kept my physical life and spiritual life very compartmentalized. I’ve come to realize that integrating the two is essential for my growth not only as a creative but as a human being in general.”
Born Meaghan Mullaly, Lozen’s introduction to spirituality came from her father, a “modern Buddhist” who exposed her to the ideas of Eastern philosophy. Since then, she has continued her own spiritual practice, and ultimately, fused it with her creative practice.
In fact, each of the seven tracks on Goal Digger, released by Soul Path Records Nov. 27, corresponds with a different chakra, and the album artwork, which Lozen designed herself, was inspired by a Tibetan singing bowl a friend had given to her.
She’s hopeful the album, and by extension her own personal journey, can maybe serve as something of a roadmap towards a meaningful life.
“When I talk about Goal Digger, it’s [about] digging deeper on the superficial goals,” she says. “I had come to a place where I had set these goals for myself, and a lot of them I had achieved, but then I had to dig deeper and ask if it was what I really wanted. I had to check in. A big part of it was realizing I was out of balance because I wasn’t nourishing the parts of myself that really needed nourishing.”
A former battle rapper and Whistler FM radio host who left the resort’s party scene for the relative peace of Squamish, Lozen had to learn the hard way that burning the candle at both ends wasn’t productive for her music career or her personal life.
Bouncing from gig to gig, reluctant to turn down any opportunity, she realized “I wasn’t honouring my body, essentially,” she recalls. “I was constantly losing my voice, getting vocal nodules and having to get surgeries and stuff like that. So I thought, ‘How do I not only sustain what I do but have that in balance with the rest of my life?”
The pandemic has offered a welcome opportunity to slow down, and like any hard-working artist on their grind, Lozen adapted to the new reality by continuing to break down barriers between her music and the rest of her pursuits, like dance.
“I’d never really thought about integrating it into my music before, and I don’t know why I separated them in the past,” she relays. “It was brought up to me several times at shows, because I would do my set, usually a hip-hop or electronic set, but then after I’d be wilding out and dancing and breaking.”
Just as comfortable spitting 16-bar verses as she is belting out Janis Joplin, Lozen switched up her process this time around, writing songs on her acoustic before penning a verse.
“I wanted to be more involved in the production process and I understood I needed [a producer] to do that with who had some kind of chord theory,” she explains.
“I wasn’t actually doing it, but just having that language has helped me be more involved in the composition.” (Veteran beat-maker Vago, who has worked with other notable Canadian hip-hop artists like Swollen Members, Choclair and Kardinal Offishall, handled production on the record.)
Lozen has even become her own merchandiser of late, after a vendor bumped the rates to produce a line of hats she wanted to go with her standout single and music video, “Ladies World” (which spoofs on the seminal ‘90s flick, Wayne’s World). Instead of eating the unexpected cost, she picked up a vintage sewing machine and stitched the hats herself.
“I asked myself how I could use this as an opportunity. I had been wanting to shift my creativity. Music is a part of my creativity, but I love creating in different mediums as well,” she says. “So here was a way for me … to be a part of that process. I get to use my hands and get out of my brain and get more physical. I enjoyed that.”
For more info and to hear the record, visit lozenmusic.com.
Squamish Chief, 2020
by Jennifer Thuncher
Squamish musician drops a new album and "Wayne's World' inspired music video filmed in town
The new Squamish-based music video is like a time capsule of the before-time, as in, before March when the pandemic was declared.
It is a blast from the past not just because people are happy, singing, in close proximity and not wearing masks, but also because The Knotty Burl is featured. The popular nightspot had to shutter, and its owner moved away from town.
Squamish's Lozen, an alternative hip-hop artist, recently dropped the new single "Ladies World," featuring Skulastic & Benzosa that pays homage to the pioneer women in rap. The official music video of the song — chockablock full of Squamish scenes, people, and locales — takes viewers on a VHS-style journey back to the 1990s with a parody of Wayne’s World.
Lozen said she is deeply saddened by the loss of The Knotty Burl. She used to play at the Ruddy Duck, too, the precursor to Knotty.
Pandemic restrictions have hit performers especially hard, with gigs canceled and bars shuttered.
Despite the pandemic meaning she isn't able to tour, Lozen, whose real name is Meaghan Mullaly will release Goal Digger — a seven-track album — on Friday, Nov. 27 via Soul Path Records.
Production for the project was primarily by Vago/Technicians Music, who produced the hit Dangerous by Kardinal Offishall, featuring Akon.
"I have been sitting on that one for a while," Lozen said of Goal Digger. It was set to come out last year, but then she got a spot in the Artist in Residence program at Studio Bell in Calgary and so shelved the album, thinking she could put it out when she was done. But the pandemic threw everything up into the air.
"What do you do? How long do you sit on stuff?" she said.
"It is what it is."
The art is the art, she added.
"We just have to keep on doing stuff."
Some of the pandemic-era changes force artists to be more creative, she said, noting an upcoming music video had to be planned over Zoom with a choreographer in Australia.
"We are doing something new," she said.
Though there are the hip hop beats to get listeners grooving, such as So High, and philosophical anthems, such as I Am One, other lyrics on the album hint at her openness to taking the world as it comes.
"Open up my soul on this journey. Open up my heart to be free. Open up my soul on this journey to remember who I am, higher purpose, understand," is one of the opening lines on the title track, Goal Digger.
She tells The Chief, this is how she is living her life.
Previously, she was always on the go, pursuing a version of success, that was making her unhealthy, she said.
"I am vegan now, and I am cooking all my own food. I wasn't able to do that before. I was on the road a lot and I had a lot of health problems because I was moving at this fast pace — go, go, go — and not listening to that inner compass," she said, adding that it is important to get to the heart of what you want, and "knowing that changes because we change."
Her process of making this album was really different, too, she said.
“Before I even got down with rap, I’d write songs on my acoustic,” she said on her website blurb about the album. “I went back to my roots with this one. In a sense, it was kind of like coming home.”
Though Gold Digger is just about to drop, Lozen is already thinking of what is next.
"Even though I am focussing on this [album] now, I will have in the background, while I am doing things, random instrumentals that I will play off of YouTube or wherever and sometimes I will get an inspiration and go voice record it," she said. "For when I get back to being creative."
Pique Newsmagazine, 2017
Arts & Entertainment
by Brandon Barrett
Lozen moves on from the 'Rumors'
Whistler's hip-hop songstress releases new music video
Lozen isn't much for diss tracks.
Though Whistler's long-time hip-hop impresario is no stranger to the battle rap scene, that kind of invective isn't really her style.
"I'm pretty hippie in the sense that I feel there is a place for everybody (in the music industry),and it doesn't have to be a competition. That's been my MO since the beginning," says Lozen, born Meaghan Mullaly. "We're so much stronger together when we try to elevate other artists as opposed to putting them down."
Despite her hippie leanings, Mullaly isn't one to get walked all over either. It was four years ago on tour when the 33-year-old got caught up in the gossip common to the insular world of Canadian hip hop. Essentially, a rumour about Mullaly got started and spread like wildfire before she had the chance to tell her side. Like some twisted version of the telephone game, the story got warped and passed on until it seemed to follow her everywhere she went.
"There was just all this fucking bureaucracy and politics and bullshit," she recalls.
What followed was one of the darkest periods of Mullaly's young life. Her touring gigs drying up, she spent more time holed up in her room, feeling betrayed by an industry that was so quick to turn its back on her.
And yet, the consummate artist couldn't stop creating. She trudged on, expanded her musical horizons, booked more gigs locally, and began working part-time at Whistler FM.
"If I let that be the end of my career, that would have been the end of me," she says.
But still, the story followed her, and, like most creative types, she chose to mine this harrowing experience for her art, eventually penning "Rumors" two years ago, the first time she addressed the experience on wax — although cryptically. (Mullaly used the American spelling to match a tattoo she has on her arm.) She doesn't name names, or offer much insight into the rumours themselves, simply because she's always been more about building bridges than burning them.
The resulting track, a catchy, horn-infused jam that harkens back to golden-era De La Soul, was a necessary catharsis, a way for Mullaly to reclaim the narrative.
"I didn't want to write a diss track because I didn't feel it was going to be beneficial or therapeutic to me to hold onto that anger," she explains.
Mullaly is releasing the video for "Rumors" next week, a moody, black-and-white affair directed by Animal Nation's Garnet Clare and edited by Mullaly. It's a stark departure from the typical hip-hop video of "rappers rapping in various places," she says. Utilizing recurring circular imagery throughout — "What goes around comes around," she says — it also offers a view into Mullaly's meditative practice, something that has helped her let go of the negativity.
"It's interesting trying to find that (meditative) space, because no one's going to do it for you, and that was a theme of the video as well," she explains.
"I don't want this to make me bitter. I think that's what happens to a lot of people who get hurt: they end up putting on this armour to protect themselves. Within reason that's important, but I think being open is more important."
"Rumors" will feature on Lozen's next album, Goal Digger, due out next year. In the meantime, she's heading out on a mini-tour that will bring her to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver, before playing gigs in Whistler at Tommy Africa's (Dec. 13), Tapley's (Dec. 15), and Brickworks (Dec. 28). For more, visit lozenmusic.com.
Whistler Question, 2017
by Aylssa Noel
Lozen releases new video
“Rumors” offers taste of forthcoming EP
There’s a question weighing on MC Lozen’s mind.
Is it better to work on a project until you’re completely happy with it or stick to a deadline and adhere to the “done is better than perfect” approach?
“It’s that kind of push and pull with how much do we hold onto it and then decide to let it go?” she said. “Having deadlines are important.
But, as a creative, at the same time, if you have a contract to write a book and the book isn’t ready, the book isn’t ready.”
In this case, the “book” is her forthcoming EP, Goal Digger, which she’s been working on in pieces for some time. There have been obstacles — from nailing down time with her new collaborator to indulging in a mind-altering brownie that prompted her to rewrite tracks — but, at long last, the first single and its accompanying video are set to drop this week.
“Rumors” loosely addresses an incident that happened years earlier while Lozen (also known as Meaghan Mullaly) was on tour with the now-defunct Whistler hip-hop group, Animal Nation. “I had never really written about everything that happened,” she said. “I came out and asked him (Garnet Clare, Animal Nation vocalist/producer/keyboardist) if it was OK to. I didn’t mention any names; I didn’t want it to be a pointing fingers piece or anything, but because he knew what I was alluding to I was wondering if it was OK and he gave me the green light.”
In fact, Clare ended up directing the video, which was shot in Whistler. “I’ve been sitting on it for a couple of years now,” Lozen added.
The video — shot in black and white — features Lozen in various dreamy Whistler locales — meditating on a dock, dancing on an old, abandoned truck in the forest, under a graffiti-scrawled overpass — intercut with three women meditatively marching with black landline phones.
“I call it choreography loosely,” she said. “I wanted symbolism with the telephones. I wanted more depth to it.”
She also wanted to take over editing duties — which required her to learn a new skill. That meant it took extra long to finish, but in the end, Lozen was happy with her output. “I’ve been learning and doing tutorials and doing my own home school of it. I think for all artists, we’re always hard on ourselves and we always want to be better.”
Similarly, she’s been writing — and rewriting — her seven-song EP, thanks, in part, to a pot brownie. After a period of abstaining, one Saturday night Lozen decided to ditch her pajamas-and-tea combo and indulge in the treat a friend gave her. “I ate the brownie and I had this experience where I was re-thinking the (title) ‘Goal Digger’ track… I ended up rewriting it.”
She compared the resulting song to Macklemore’s “Same Love,” but rather than rights for same-sex couples it delves into various religions.
“I love the track, but that can’t be the opening,” she said. “That can’t set the tone for the record. So then I needed to sit down and write another track.”
In short, fans might have to wait a little longer for the EP release, but in the meantime, they’ll have the new single (set to be released on YouTube on Tuesday) — and a handful of live performances, which is often the best way to support local music, she added.
“Support your local artists — not just us as musicians, but writers and people acting and doing plays,” she said. “If they did it for the money, I don’t think they’d be doing it.”
For more visit lozenmusic.com.