From The Desert to The Jam Room: Theophilus London Is Back
After eight months in the deserts of California, Theophilus London is back in New York and one of his first stops was to close out MADE Fashion Week with a set pulled from his Lovers Holiday 2 EP, followed by guest turns by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and the one and only Jungle Pussy. Milk Made caught up with London before the show to talk about producing his own music, and the sounds of the desert.
Milk Made: How are you doing? You must be crazy busy right now.
Theophilus London: I’m really busy. I’ve been away for about eight months. I basically started writing the whole album in January of 2013. I started working on it in Paris. I definitely didn’t want to make this record in New York City, because I’ve been living there my whole life, and when I’m working I like it to be inspired and I really wanted to go and search for other influences.
So I went to Paris and I wanted to write some unique stories about nightlife. There’s definitely some artists in Paris that I feel are super futuristic, kind of hip hop meets club in a very tasteful way. So I wanted to go explore that, and I just went fucking partying and hanging out with girls every night. I’m like, man, this is totally not what I wanted. I moved to California, where it’s isolated from everything and I made the record in Palm Springs.
MM: I was listening to "Do Girls". Tell me more about it.
TL: I wrote "Do Girls" in Paris after a very inspiring night with one of my favorite models, Arizona Muse. This type of night is something people can relate to, it’s something humorous. I’m always a very serious dude, but a lot of this album is very serious humor. I’m not trying to take myself too seriously these days.
I played "Do Girls" for Kanye in Paris. He gave me a lot of very good pointers. He was like, "Yo, you should this here. Put that there. He kind of helped me arrange stuff. I’m starting to produce as well, because I produced this myself in Palm Springs, so I’m more in control of every second of my music. I’m no longer going with the approach of, "Hey you handle the beats and I’ll take care of the lyrics." I can flip it, and fuck with contemporary music the way I want to. It’s a blessing.
MM: Was there anything that you picked up when you were in the California desert that added to your music?
TL: I couldn’t make this record in New York. I couldn’t have. I needed to be there. That type of focus helped me fucking come up with a whole new genre. The desert is very quiet at night. There’s no skyscrapers. There’s only mountains. It’s like living with a god, right. So that definitely helped inspire my sound. We have a new sound called Desert Waves. Desert Vibes.
My studio is very personalized. I really hated being in New York or being in L.A. and using a studio that every single rapper goes to with the same plug ins and the same fucking speakers. It’s not personal. I really wanted to make a personal studio. Then I found out that I could make my own sound, and it’s really cool. I’m definitely thinking about building new studios in the future when I’m happy to just keep capitalizing on this idea.
Photography by Erez Avissar