This last Friday was a big one for J’Kerian Morgan, better know by their moniker Lotic; they released their debut album Power, had their album release party at Berlin’s center for spatial sound, MONOM (which happened to be their first headlining show), and played a DJ set at their own after party in Berghain. Despite this being Lotic’s debut album and first headlining show they have been musically active for a long time.
“I been doing this for 17 years but people are just now hearing about Lotic” Morgan explains while we’re sitting on the bank of the River Spree out in the Funkhaus complex where MONOM is situated. “I play the saxophone, compose and sing, not a lot of people know that”, a fact once known can be heard swirling through Power, an album full of clashing influences including trap, classical, club music, harsh noise and Beyoncé, not a complete departure from their previous efforts but a bit of growing into themselves musically. When asked about the influence Berlin has played in Power’s creation, Morgan responded, “Well, of course, Berlin plays a role in Power but I’m from Houston and so is my sound.”
Though moving to Berlin was an accident, J’Kerian has created a strong sense of home here. Despite having been through a fair amount of trauma, they will be sticking around for the foreseeable future. From extreme highs in their first moments to experiencing extreme lows from losing a partner, harassment and assault to even becoming temporarily homeless, Morgan needed to be in a better place before starting on the process of creating this album: “the process of Power is finding out really who I was. I feel like I always knew but for the last couple of years I was like ‘I don’t know’”. J’Kerian did a lot of emotional unpacking while Power was coming to fruition, a sentiment felt throughout the album, specifically through their voice and lyrics. This was something we’ve never heard from Lotic before.
One way to properly acquaint yourself with Lotic is through their live performances. Their premiere party at MONOM was something wholly unique. MONOM is home to the 4DSOUND system, an intricate sound system that creates “sound in an unlimited spatial continuum.” Morgan spent hours every day leading up to the performance fine-tuning the system to their exact specifications, making sure that “the crowd gonna feel it.” Beyond making the crowd last Friday really feel the magnitude of Power, Lotic was also concerned about staying true to the album, not departing from the messages or sonic gravity already present in the recording. I asked Lotic would be collaborating with other artists to remix the album, but they stated, “maybe next year, when I’ve played the songs 1,000 times and I’m tired of them, but right now they’re too precious, too fresh to let anybody else touch them.”
Though Lotic and MONOM are something special in their own rights, bringing the two together was a stroke of genius. Lotic used their first headlining show to break conventions with the typical DJ/producer and crowd configuration, a platform sat waiting in the middle of the room and once the music started, Lotic grooved through the audience. Wearing a long blonde wig and heels to take their place at the centre of attention. Frequent Lotic collaborator, Roderick George, joined in the jubilant chaos, moving his body to Lotic’s music frantically, beautifully, sexually, painfully. George ran from the middle of the crowd to a windowed platform well above the heads of the audience while Lotic was singing to him from the lower platform created a scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life. I’m still fighting[…]” -Lotic