This monthly feature from LowellArts offers audiences a personal, insider view into the current music scene from the perspective of West Michigan’s talented performers. Check back on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month for a new article or interview from the featured artist.
Article by Sue Clements
Recognized in 2022 for their incredible talent, Last Gasp Collective earned a WYCE Jammie, “Best Hip-Hop Album of the Year” for their album, Our Daily Bread. Not the first time for them though, they also earned a Jammie for “Best Album by a New Artist” in 2020. They are that good. Don’t miss out on what’s next for this passionate, creative group. Listen to their music. Go see them play.
Last Gasp describes themselves as an Indie Music Collective, which seems like a simple description of the music they create. Listening to them or watching them play offers the thrill of experiencing something uncommon and new. Each song is fresh, different and unexpected, like life. Their music gives the listener something to pay attention to, move to, and certainly think about. This Collective is not typical. You’ll hear soulful female vocals, keyboard that will hook you as well as saxophone and cello that’s hard to sit still to. All the while they are sharing their stories and truths.
Founded by Jay Jackson, the collective originally came together in 2017 and at one time had as many as 11 members. “Last Gasp Collective has seen talented musicians come and go for various reasons but the lifeblood is the music.” shared Shayla Watson (band manager). “The collective is a result of people being in the right place at the right time. Call it Divine order, the universe or whatever you want but they are all where they are supposed to be.”
Watson, along with drummer Terrence Smith, introduced me to the collective’s current members. Their descriptions, focusing on various talents as well as personal anecdotes will give you an idea of LCG’s passion and skills.
“Jordan Hamilton, our cellist, is a phenomenal artist. He fuses classical with hip-hop in a way that only lived experience and intense training could produce. Jordan is our “famous” band member. You could name drop Jordan Hamilton anywhere in Michigan and people would know who you are talking about. After you’re done with Last Gasp’s two albums, check out his work.”
“Saxophonist, Xavier Bonner, creates experimental jazz music. He is in multiple organized music groups and has multiple projects available to listen to. Xavier is the “mysterious” band member. He doesn’t talk much but always knows the right thing to say.”
“Bassist, Tyler Robinson, is an amazing producer/artist in his own right. Tyler was born to make music possessing absolute pitch. If a note or key is in question, he’s got the answer. He recently released a single under the name “Da-Soul” that is available on Spotify. Tyler is our “humbling” band member. His catchphrase is “shut up”, that should explain it all.”
“Lead vocalist, Jessica Ivey, is a classically trained singer that plays piano and does all of the vocal arrangements for LGC. She released her debut album, First Time, in 2020. Jessica is our “personality” band member. She is full of great vibes and good energy.”
“Pianist, Grayson Nye, is immaculately talented. He is one of the newest additions to the band but fits in so well. Grayson performs in a trio with Jordan Hamilton, and in many other capacities outside of LGC. Grayson is our “chill” band member. Cool, calm and collected is his personality and he is always one of the best dressed band members.”
“Drummer, Terrence Smith, is the lifeline of the band both musically and emotionally. He started playing the drums at the age of 3 and has been playing ever since. He spends his Sundays drumming at various churches around Michigan, including his father’s church in Detroit. His individual projects are coming in the near future. Terrence is the “funny” band member. He keeps everybody’s spirits high and stomachs hurting with his natural skill for making a joke out of anything and his hilarious one liners.”
“Jay Jackson, the founder of Last Gasp Collective, is the producer and mastermind behind the sound of LGC. He will ask the band members to send him a short clip of something random they recorded and he metalsmiths it into beautiful music. He has produced a handful of albums for other artists and spends as much time as he can on music. Jay is the “mastermind” band member.”
LCG’s 14 track album Our Daily Bread was released in October 2022. Lead singer Jess shared, “Our Daily Bread is about transition, collaboration, and reflection. …The lyrics reflect introspective conversations of personal struggle, recovery, and freedom. Our Daily Bread invited so many new voices to the collective sound with guest features, writers, producers and engineers.” Cellist Jordan Hamilton added that this album “is a snapshot of the growth in skills the group accumulated through the years.…Throughout the album you can hear clips of our rehearsals and hangouts and in consequence, the album is a moment captured in time. As times evolve and priorities shift this album is a daily reminder of what our collective time was able to accomplish when in the same room towards a similar goal. A memoir.”
Drummer Terrence Smith shared, ” We perform because we absolutely love it. We love being around each other and our chemistry together is unmatched. People tell us that they love the way we interact with each other and the energy that we bring to all of our performances.” “I think we were coming up in a golden era of many great bands and people trying to make their dreams physical. For that, I’m grateful.” cellist Jordan Hamilton added. “ Our main goals are to find ways to keep ourselves together and allow for personal growth, support, and space when needed. All the while trying to make the best live and recorded music we can.”
Get some of their music and come listen to them play in Lowell. They’ll be performing at Lowell’s Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts on June 15th from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Last Gasp Collective is music you don’t want to miss!