Lo Norman: Masked Multi-hyphenate Nerd of Your Dreams

Why multi-talented artist and streamer Lo Norman reclaims the once derogatory term

Self-described nerd Lo Norman (she/they) embodies what it means to be an artist. In an age where things can seem rushed or unoriginal, the imaginative universe Lo’s created lets them do all she loves and show off her creativity, which isn’t limited to just one thing. Lo is a live streamer, music composer, filmmaker, and multidisciplinary artist. It’s only natural that her versatile abilities have brought her such special opportunities and supporters. As a live streamer, Lo enjoys playing obscure and underground games on Twitch and YouTube under the tag This Is LowKey.

Lo Norman faces a screen showing the video game Rage
Lo Norman playing video game “Rage.” By Jasmine Smith

“I love everything from action-adventure, horror, RPGs, deep storylines, retro stuff, geek culture & all types of weeb shit,” says Lo.

She started streaming online nine years ago with her partner for fun. 

“Back then, when we started, there was no incentive to make money from it,” says Lo. “We just wanted to play with our friends.”

The This Is LowKey moniker is a conjunction of their names, Lolo and Key. Key also goes by the tag Bathwaterwhiskey. The pair began building their platform with classics like Final Fantasy IX and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Lo says when it comes to finding people to connect with, there is nowhere like Memphis. She is embraced by the local nerd community here, which allows her to thrive in a city full of captivating and gifted people.

Lo Norman performs show as Cel Shade
Cel Shade performs at David Yancy Fashion Show, courtesy Lo Norman

“If you don’t have that community of people who aren’t going to judge you, then there will be nobody to support you and get your stuff seen,” says Lo.

Beyond streaming video games, Lo’s creative realm extends to experimental music and performances under the alias Cel Shade

“If you had to put a genre to it, it would be vaporwave,” says Lo.

Lo says it is hard to define her experimental music style. Especially as Cel Shade adds an extra dimension to her music through an innovative use of visual elements, like Y2K imagery, themes of arcade and cyber core, and liminal space.

“Project Pat is my inspiration, musically,” Lo says, “Sound-wise, we are very different, but he is my inspiration because we are both Memphians.”

Poison JamZ album cover by Cel Shade, courtesy Lo Norman

Lo has released 13 albums, with Poison JamZ, released June 2021, being the most recent, as well as other albums released under another alias. She enjoys letting her imagination blossom in all of her art, especially photography. Lo describes it as manipulative photography that usually involves themes like social commentary, race relations, and dark subject matter.

“I try to paint this world in my photography and take you to this other realm,” she says.

Recently, a once-in-a-lifetime artistic opportunity presented itself when Lo and her co-director, screenwriter and partner Juniper Crawford, were awarded a $15,000 IndieGrant courtesy of Indie Memphis. 

Lo and Juniper’s short is now one of 25 projects awarded the IndieGrant, an initiative that helps fund short films made in Memphis. 

“I felt honored, proud, and seen,” Lo says. “I get to turn my queer horror into a reality and see it on the big screen.”

Lo Norman masked, self portrait in blue light with their hand covering their face.
Self portrait, courtesy Lo Norman

They did not have high hopes when they submitted their queer horror script to Indie Memphis in August of 2023. Lo and Juniper had to wait three months for Indie Memphis’s response to determine if they would win. Lo admits that the adventure of making their forthcoming film, “Friend Shaped,” has been quite mind-boggling. 

Lo’s love of music, art and horror is evident in the intense way she talks about the subjects, and is why she doesn’t mind being called a “nerd.”

Originally derogatory, people like Lo are reclaiming the term “nerd.” Being a nerd is no longer something to be ashamed of. The term is not a ticket to eat lunch alone while crying in a dirty bathroom surrounded by profanity smeared on the walls with a sharpie. Nerd culture is just a parallel to what queerness is, which is being unconventional and authentically yourself.

“Being a nerd is just being yourself and truly being a fanatic and passionate about something you like,” Lo says.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

CORRECTION: Our NERD print issue fails to credit Juniper Crawford as co-director to the upcoming film, Friend Shaped. This fact has been corrected in both this post and our virtual issue.

Follow Lo at @lolodahoho_ for updates on shows and her and Juniper’s upcoming film, Friend Shaped.

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