Doug Locke: A Candid Conversation

Photo by Will Branske

Doug Locke, the accomplished rapper, musician, actor, entertainer and activist recently had a moment to sit down with The Fusion Press’ Lauren Alexis Wood to tackle his views on racism and what he feels his responsibility to share his voice as an artist and public figure can do to help others.

Check it out!

I was fortunate enough to catch Doug Locke in the midst of a flurry of new music releases (LEARN MORE HERE). The first thing I wanted to know? As an entertainment industry professional how does he handle the pressure of effectively communicating his voice and vision from the platform he’s been given?

Doug Locke responded, “Fortunately as an independent artist I have creative control over my work.  For me, I find the best art to be art that comes from the heart and is connected to truth.  Sure, we can heighten the drama and raise the stakes for the sake of the art, but at the core it must come from a real place.  I think as a response to the artifice of social media where everything is so curated and manipulated, we are craving authenticity.  Unfortunately I don’t know if all of the gatekeepers have realized this yet.”

Next I wanted to follow-up on something I’d recently read. A quote Doug had made saying the following as a response to the inspiration behind your new single “Why,” a song that takes aim at racism in America today:
“This should have never been something that any of us should have to live with as simply ‘the way things are.’ I dream of a future, for the sake of my descendants, where we will create a more just society where human life is valued equally.”

Were there steps that people struggling through this social climate could take to collectively work towards the more just society Doug envision? What steps did he think people could take to embrace POC and members of the LGBTQ community to begin to create one common collective of good? 

Doug Locke explained, “I think step number one is to recognize that the only way we can make change is through continued commitment to change.  I have been heartbroken to see how so many people want to treat this as a trend, and how the news cycle wants to move on  (As if posting a black square now means that the problem is solved and we can all go back to brunch).  I recognize that it is hard and we are all feeling fatigue.  I think now more than ever it is important for the media and other gatekeepers to take a stand for something rather than retreating out of fear.  The stakes could not be higher.  Ultimately, it starts with the individual.  Part of doing the work is looking within and examining out own biases and blind spots.  Who do we surround ourselves with?  One of the best ways to embrace POC and members of the LGBTQ community is by having them in your life, talking and listening to them.  Follow inspiring creatives and thought leaders in different communities.  Another great way to help usher in a common collective of good is by voting!”

Doug Locke and I both agreed that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH given recent events and injustices that seem to dominate the news and headlines in this country. However, I was curious, as an artist, how did he use his voice to speak on behalf of those who have no voice left? How does he use his voice to encourage those who have been silenced to stand up and speak out?

“I think that activism takes many forms.  We all have different journeys within the spectrum.  For some people it is organizing and volunteering, for others it is running for office, for artists I think it is all about provoking thought and continuing the conversation  (of course there is definitely room for intersectionality and there are many ways to make a difference).  I have been making the choice to have tough conversations with my friends from different experiences who may not fully understand how history has led us to this point.  I’m donating to campaigns and causes I believe in.  I’m marching, I’m voting, amplifying the voices of others and I’m encouraging people to vote.  I’m also continuing to educate myself.  I have made a commitment to myself to tell stories that matter to me through my art.”

During the interview I let Doug Locke know that I thought he was an extremely versatile musician and the dichotomy between Lunar I and Lunar II showcased that range. I wanted to know how he made the determination between the two sides of the moon, so to speak, and what that metaphor said about his artistic identity.

“Thank you!  Well… I’m a Black, Queer man from Texas, so intersectionality has always been on my radar.  I think this definitely bleeds into my artistic identity because I have very eclectic taste and draw inspiration from all over.  I think it is so exciting that we are entering an era in music where genre blending is being embraced and genre lines continue to blur.  I have a spiritual practice of gratitude meditation and goal setting around the full moon, so I enjoyed using the moon and the lunar cycle as a visual metaphor for the different sounds of this new project.”

I reminded Doug Locke that he mentioned that he told a prior journalist that he always wanted to strive to make pop music that has a beat and remains accessible to people. I wanted to know which elements of his creative process helped him to harness that energy with each and every track.

“I’ve had the pleasure of writing my songs with my long time collaborator and producer Eric Lee McNeely.  Each song is born out of a different energy.  Sometimes it starts with a melody or a lyric, and other times it starts as a reaction to a personal experience that I need to get out.  I think the secret sauce come when we zoom out and put our brains together.  While I often draw inspiration from some of the greats from the past, we are mindful to continue to feed ourselves new music to draw inspiration from.  Music is constantly evolving and I think it is important to be a part of the conversation to know where music is going.”

I was curious what the artist had been up to through the Pandemic. I wanted to know if social distancing had impeded on his creativity or if he had found solace in the downtime.

“The Pandemic has reminded me of the vast potential that we all have for creativity and self sufficiency.  I have been writing, producing, shooting and creating content.  I’ve done some virtual sessions with my producer and my acting coach.  Once I found my flow, it became very empowering.  I’ve been learning to edit and I’m doing more voice training.  On the flip side, I think balance is very important.  I’ve been learning to implement more tools to manage my mental health.  Yoga, breath work, hiking and nesting in my home have brought me joy.  Also, I’ve been binging Schitt’s Creek. Hashtag, David!”

Lastly, I couldn’t leave fans hanging. I had to get the scoop on what we could expect from Doug Locke next, looking to the months ahead. Does he have any major plans for 2021?

“I will be dropping the full album “Full Moon” in 2021, so I’m really excited!  Leading up to the release I will be writing and recording more music, and creating more visuals.  Also there may be a few more surprises up my sleeve, so stay posted. Sending love and reminding everyone to moisturize, to hydrate and to VOTE!”

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