Courtesy of Amber Knicole
This is part of our weekly series titled “Columbus’ Own,” where we profile a local band every week.
For college friends playing impromptu jam sessions, the jump to selling out Lincoln Theatre might seem like a stretch, but Columbus band MojoFlo made it happen.
The band has been playing together since the members met at Capital University in 2007.
“It almost came about organically,” said Walter Kolhoff, saxophone player.
After the members met, the making of a band just seemed to happen within the group.
“We would keep running into each other at school,” said drummer and MC Jake Levy. “I started having jam sessions at my house.”
The core group began to see the potential of performing for more than just an empty room.
“We started thinking we need to go and play for people instead of just hanging out and playing by ourselves,” Kolhoff said.
At those jam sessions, Levy invited other students from Capital and Ohio State to play, but after time, MojoFlo began to come together.
“The core group of us just gravitated together,” Levy said. “We were all just really drawn towards the same kind of music.”
While the band has an eclectic taste in music, Levy said, the members were drawn together through soul music to form a new age funk band.
Lead singer Amber Knicole agreed. She said each member has a certain mix of music they like to play. All of those different styles are then funneled into the band’s own music.
“The eclectic music we all listen to, you can hear that in our sound,” Levy said.
But for MojoFlo, varying styles are differences to be embraced.
“We’ve never been uncomfortable because something isn’t a soul or funk song,” Levy said.
The band’s ability to have multiple genres influence its music might be due to the fact most of the members studied some aspect of music while at Capital. From music to music technology, the bandmates all took their love for the art into their studies.
All except Knicole, who studied political science.
“I was very heavily involved in the conservatory (of music at Capital). I just was not getting a music degree,” Knicole said. “I didn’t necessarily want to major in political science. When I went to college the decision was made for me. So I wasn’t really doing what I wanted to do.”
Since beginning her career with the other guys of MojoFlo and touring with them, Knicole has not only found her passion for music, but also learned about living, working and touring with men.
“I definitely ended up falling into the responsible role,” she said. On some of the touring the band did, she made itineraries for the entire trip.
The other bandmates felt having a female lead singer distinguished MojoFlo from other musicians.
The men of MojoFlo had always been looking for a female lead singer, Levy said.
After bringing Knicole into the band about four to five months after its formation, MojoFlo has been gaining popularity in Columbus.
The band sold out Lincoln Theatre, located at 769 E. Long St., on Saturday. MojoFlo did a tribute to the songs of Motown, Levy said.
For the bigger performance, the band members hired more musicians for their set, and had 14 players on the stage, Levy said.
“The crowd was going crazy the whole time,” Levy said. The sold-out show was one of his favorite moments in the band, he said.
Knicole agreed that having such a warm reception in her hometown was a high point in her career.
“When we do come back, people are more proud here, because we are representing Columbus,” she said. “That is probably one of the best feelings.”
In 2012, MojoFlo was voted Best Local Band by Columbus Underground.
In addition to touring together, the band used to live together.
“It was your quintessential college house. It wasn’t a frat house, but the music version,” Levy said. “We know the ins and outs of each other musically.”
Five years in the music industry has given MojoFlo a wealth of knowledge.
“We have all matured a lot. We have all grown as people. We have all grown as musicians and songwriters,” Kolhoff said.