Community has always been at the heart of the music that Louis York and The Shindellas create. But now they’re exploring what that community means on a deeper level with their new music, beginning with The Shindellas’ summertime anthem, “BBQs and Body Rolls,” — co-written and produced by Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony of Louis York and The Shindellas, comprised of Tamara Chauniece, Kasi Jones and Stacy Johnson.
Prior to moving to Nashville and forming their own duo and curating The Shindellas, Kelly and Harmony were the masterminds behind some of the biggest pop hits of the mid aughts (Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA,” “Grenade” by Bruno Mars and Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette” among them). With a desire to break from the industry standards, Kelly and Harmony planted roots in Music City as the founders of Weirdo Workshop, an art collective based in Franklin, TN. They’ve established their own sound through a process known as “deep fried veggies” wherein they wrap meaningful lyrics around an ear-catching melody. After a string of hard-hitting songs like “Money,” which points a stern finger at capitalism and those who will do anything to make a dime, and “Fear Has No Place,” a powerful anthem about the importance of not letting fear harden one’s heart that was released in the height of the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s murder, The Shindellas are sharing a new form of protest with “BBQs” that captures the free-spirited feeling of gathering with the people you love. “It’s really a call to action to get together,” Kelly tells Urbaanite.
That sense of community has been building for nearly half a decade through Louis York and The Shindellas’ electric live shows and their initiative, Tiny Book Club, which brings people of all mindsets and cultural backgrounds together through meaningful discussions around a thought-provoking book or podcast. “Our community got us through and that spirit is literally in us,” professes Jones. “If you’re looking around you, there’s always going to be something to scare you. But if you look next to you, the community inside of you, that’s where the love is. And it’s more powerful.”
Cutting through the pain to find joy is a common theme in the two acts’ upcoming projects, as demonstrated by “BBQs” and Louis York’s laissez-faire single, “It Is What It Is.” For Harmony, their new music offers a much-needed sense of “relief” from the turmoil of the world. “With The Shindellas and Louis York at first, we were trying to prove a point. ‘We can do this. We can do this deep. We know how to do music on a big scale.’ And now we just get to the point. What do people really need? What do they really need to feel like right now? With the last two years being so dark, they need to feel good, and so our music, it’s got to the point,” he prophesies. “It feels good.”
“BBQs” is the title track of The Shindellas’ upcoming EP that Kelly calls “very uptempo” with songs like “Make it Juicy” and “Good as Gold.” The freedom embedded in their upcoming projects is born out of a sense of fearlessness they’ve gained from working and performing together since joining forces in 2017. “You’re going to hear a whole new level of fearlessness. It’s a freedom that’s even more infectious because of their own confidence and the power of The Shindellas because they’ve seen some power. They’ve seen what it does and they know how to wield it better, but it sounds free, confident,” he explains. “It makes you want to take on that same attitude.” Johnson also notes that their previous live shows have been “heavy” with deep messages that allow people to go “introspectively” while creating a “raw feeling” for the audience. “We felt it every time we performed, and now this music is another kind of positive. It still has that freedom feeling and it still can make you feel raw in a lot of ways, but it’s a positive feeling,” she describes of the upcoming collection. “It’s not so heavy. We don’t have to think so hard about this. We can just let go.” “I think on this record, you’re going to hear us really trusting our gifts and for me, that’s how I overcame a lot of the fears,” Chauniece observes.
As they prepare to share this new side of their artistry, Louis York and The Shindellas will continue to stand out with music that leaves a lasting impact on their community while finding its undeniable place in the ever-evolving culture. “What I’m most proud of is that our art always reflects the time. Not just the times of the world, but the times in our lives,” Harmony proclaims. “Creating from an honest place, you’ll always be right where you need to be.”
Location: Louis York Studio in Franklin
Photographer: Elle Danielle
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