Melissa Ulachi Ulanma Offoha might be a
mouthful of a name, but under the stage persona
Lachi, this talented musician has no trouble
making herself remembered. For two years, Lachi
has been touring the East Coast and lighting up venues
like The Knitting Factory, Ella Lounge, and New York
University, where she received her Master's degree in
music technology. Lachi spoke via telephone with
ABILITY's Molly Mackin about her musical influences,
band chemistry, and personal challenges.
Molly Mackin: How long have you been performing?
Lachi: Oh, I've been doing music forever. I started playing
the piano somewhere between the ages of four or
five. I got my first keyboard at, like, eight. Ever since
then I've just been writing songs. (laughs) I have a million
Mackin: Who were some of your musical influences?
Lachi: I listened to a lot of The Beatles and Radiohead
while I was growing up, as well as to Bjork, and a lot of
the alternative, avant-garde rock. Lauryn Hill, Fiona
Apple, Yanni, Mozart. All kinds of music.
Mackin: Tell me a little about your most recent project.
Lachi: We released an album called Lachi on July 22nd,and right now we're busy recording our next album. We
were doing a bunch of shows in the northeast while
Lachi circulated. We hit up Boston, we hit up Jersey, we
hit up New York and Philly. It was kind of a crazy tour.
Mackin: What kinds of venues does Lachi usually play?
Lachi: Well, we generally hit up two different types.
Our band is able to play hard rock--I'll call it acoustic
rock--but we can also play an acoustic folk setting in
which we're not all plugged in. We do those folk settings
a lot. We do a lot of acoustic shows at smaller
venues that tend to be pretty packed, but we play rock
venues as well.
Mackin: When you say "unplugged", you mean completely
acoustic? I assume you have a drummer?
Lachi: Yes. We have a drummer that plays with a full kit
when we play our full setup. But when we play acoustic,
sometimes he'll play a thing called the cajon. It's a hollowed-
out box. He sits on top of it and plays the box
beneath him. It sounds really cool.
Mackin: Are all of the songs you perform original
Lachi: Every once in a while we'll throw in a cover, but
generally we play original songs, yeah. We'll do some female-fronted rock covers: Imogen Heap, No Doubt.
But we do some Beatles covers, too. Everyone in my
band is into The Beatles. But we're also pretty into Zeppelin,
Guns n' Roses, Lynyrd Skynard. I personally listen
to a lot of weird piano chicks. I don't know if
you've heard of the Dresden Dolls? We have a big
array of influences, I guess.
Mackin: How many band members are in Lachi?
Lachi: Including me, there are four of us. I do piano and
vocals, and the guys are drums, bass, and guitar. And
everyone sings backup vocals.
Mackin: And there's good chemistry between all of you?
Lachi: We're like best friends. We hang out at each others'
houses, and we get up in each others' faces all the
time. The three guys all met when they were younger,
and I think they tried to put a band together, but it kind
of fell apart. Then they all went and each did his own
thing. I came in and got them all back together. So it's a
Mackin: And everyone in your band is legally blind?
Lachi: Yeah. We all have different degrees of sight. One
of the members is totally blind, and the rest of us have
Mackin: Were you born with your visual impairment?
Lachi: Yes. It's congenital. I've always had the same
level of acuity, since the day I was born. My bandmate
who is totally blind once had perfect vision and went
blind when he was very young. Another bandmate was
blind and then had a surgery, but his sight is still really bad. Another guy, I think his is congenital.
Mackin: Are you able to read Braille?
Lachi: I do understand Braille, but I can also read text,
so obviously I usually just do that. If I'm in a situation
in which there's only Braille available--like, if we go to
one of those blind conventions, then I'm fine. But I
actually prefer text, just because everything is in text,
most of the time.
I can't really read Braille music very well because I
can't coordinate putting my hand on the paper and playing
the notes at the same time. I don't know how people
do it. It leaves me with one hand to read and one hand to
play a two-handed song, so it's not going to work.
(laughs) But I can read standard printed music because I
studied music theory in college. I have to be very close
to the page to be able to read it, though, so It slows me
down so much that it's almost ineffective. It's easier for
me just to learn by ear....... continued in ABILITY Magazine
Articles in the Alfred Molina Issue; Senator Tom Harkin — IDEA 35 Years; Ashley’s Column — Girls Ride; Acupuncture — Ancient Chinese Secret, Revealed!; Aphasia: The Movie — A Film Beyond Words; Love Simple — Lights! Camera!...Lupus?; Trail Mix — The Wilderness Made Accessible; Amputee Recovery — From the Middle East to Haiti; Lachi — A Voice in the Darkness; Laura Hogikyan — The Play’s the Thing; Creative Arts Festival — Veterans with Artistic Vision; A Trip to Germany — Disability and Deutchland; A Day In The Life — Nursing with a Movement Disorder; Alfred Molina — Law & Order and the Injustice of AIDS; Malcolm Smith — A Ride Down Memory Lane; Shakes — Parkinson’s Disease; Victoria Taylor — Excerpt From Caitlin’s Wish; Sally Franz — Excerpt From Scrambled Leggs; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences... subscribe
Excerpts from the Alfred Molina Jan/Dec 2010-11 Issue:
Alfred Molina — Interview
Love Simple — Lights! Camera!...Lupus?
Malcolm Smith — A Ride Down Memory Lane
Creative Arts Festival — Veterans with Artistic Vision
A trip to Germany — Disability and Deutchland
Amputee Recovery — From the Middle East to Haiti
Lachi — A Voice in the Darkness
Acupuncture — Ancient Chinese Secret, Revealed!