Arts, Culture, and Entertainment

Smooth as Silk: SILQQ echoes the 70′s

How a rec center jam band worked their way into the USC music scene

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Mauricio Lopez and Lamont Stiff are smooth as silk.

Their band, SILQQ, has a commanding presence onstage. Wearing sunglasses and sequined shirts, Lopez and Stiff croon to their audience, trying to put them at ease. The jazz-influenced band, consisting of dual electric guitars, drums and bass, does just that.

“We’ve always thought about music that makes you want to dance, makes you want to groove,” Lopez said.

Lopez, a USC junior studying human biology, and Stiff spent their first semester of college jamming in a Santa Barbara neighborhood rec center.

The duo, who had only recently met, calloused their hands and lost their voices as they wailed on their electric guitars.

Playing tunes by Michael Jackson and The Beatles, Lopez and Stiff eventually decided that it was time to step away from cover songs and began to write. With songs such as “Super Cosmic Lovin” and “Take Me to the Stars,” the band pays homage to the 70′s disco era with a strong emphasis on bass.

They’ve been heavily involved in the USC music scene, performing at the Ground Zero Performance Café and for Cup of Troy, a student-run coffee pop-up shop. They plan to continue sharing their music with the USC community next semester.

While SILQQ plans to release an EP next semester, they recently came out with what Lopez describes as an introduction to the band’s music and creativity.

“Intro to SILQQ is the beginning,” Lopez said. “It encapsulates the magical process of the birth of SILQQ.”

In order to streamline the recording process and schedule performances, the band partnered with USC junior Miles Mogush.

“I think the hardest part of working with an artist is finding an artist that has the drive to do live performance,” Mogush said. “[SILQQ] really want to focus on the way that they engage with the audience rather than just performing songs for them.”

Lopez and Stiff are working on an EP, and have enjoyed the creative process of recording music thus far, calling it “utter chaos and raw emotion.”

“We’d be sitting in our room chanting and screaming and blowing into the mic to create the extraordinary journey that we did with that Intro,” Lopez said.

The two Santa Barbara natives had mutual friends, but didn’t meet until the summer before their freshman year of college. While many of their friends left for schools in different towns, Lopez and Stiff both attended Santa Barbara City College.

“I met Lamont and I was like, ‘Man this dude’s music taste is ridiculous,’” Lopez said. “I got to an age… where I completely changed my view on music and my relationship with it.”

Lopez and Stiff come from different musical backgrounds. Stiff grew up listening to Jay-Z and Kanye albums on road trips with his family. Lopez’s parents played the Bee Gees and traditional Mexican music. The duo’s difference in music taste became an important part of their friendship.

“I’ve definitely gotten to a point in my relationship with music where I can appreciate good music, no matter what it is,” Lopez said.

While the band’s presence in the music industry is just beginning, their name has been in the making for quite a while.

“We were sitting in that little clubhouse rec center and we’re like ‘we gotta make some smooth, sexy [music] that makes you want to groove,” Stiff said.

Eventually, the two agreed that Silk was the perfect name for their jazzy playing style. However, it didn’t survive long.

Stiff and Lopez came up with the name SILQQ on a day when Stiff recalls “there was something in the universe going on.”

The two friends each spent the day independently sketching logos for the band, and both thought of different creative ways to spell “Silk.”

“I remember I was at home and Lamont was at work, and I was like ‘yo, SILQQ with two q’s doesn’t look bad,’” Lopez said.

That was in 2019. The two took time before planning their first show, forced to delay their debut because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s emergence in early 2020.

They were finally able to host a performance in July 2021, the day before moving out of their house in South Central Los Angeles. After they tackled concert setup and moved their worldly possessions out of their home, Lopez and Stiff were surprised to find that their first-concert nerves had subsided.

“At this point, we’ve made it to the point we’ve been waiting for,” Lopez said. “Once we got there, it kind of clicked.”

Lopez said that they grew as performers during their first concert.

“We had several hiccups at the beginning… but the further we got into our set, the better and cleaner we were delivering the music,” Lopez said.

“Intro to SILQQ,” a creative look into the minds of Mauricio Lopez and Lamont Stiff, is available on all music platforms.