Your Weekend Playlist, Courtesy of Lewis OfMan
Lewis Delhomme is the 23-year-old Parisian behind Lewis OfMan. From producing Vendredi sur mer’s latest record to writing and touring with his own tracks, Delhomme masters the French touch. Aimed at the dancefloor, you can feel the romance and dreaminess of his percussive, synth-based tunes. After closing out his US tour with Polo & Pan, we spoke to Delhomme about his process, his dreams, and how Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso inspire him. Stay tuned because he’s hinted at a new record at the top of 2020.
“These are the songs that I was listening to in LA, they made me dream a lot, enjoy”:
So you’re always on the road, how are you enjoying touring the world?
So the thing is that when I’m at home, you know, doing my music in my studio, and I have a notification on my calendar that I have to go to this place or this place, I feel so anxious, like, “Oh no I don’t want to go again.”
I don’t want to go to the airport with my keyboards and everything, you know all of these kinds of anxiety feelings when you take the taxi at 5 AM…that sort of thing.
And knowing that you have so much of your future life already scheduled, that must be stressful.
Yeah and the fear of not knowing the people you’re going to meet, the fear to do the shows and everything… but at the moment when you enter the plane, you start to be in the mood. You’re like a different person, you switch to — I don’t know the proper word in English, but it’s like, you switch from someone who is kind of anxious to like the adventure guy. I don’t know why, but you just switch, and everything is possible at this point. Because you’re like, “Okay, I’m in the mood to move every day and sleep anywhere.” For me, it’s like that and it works. It’s the same cycle every time, I don’t know why.
You started music with the drums – how does that impact your sound? You also play the piano and guitar? Any new instruments you’re looking to play? How did you learn?
The fact that I started music with the drums impacted a lot my ways of playing the other instruments. My friends often tell me I have a strange way of playing the keys, I kind of play it like drums, I think. I guess that’s because I didn’t learn it in a classical way, so at the time, the only skills I could relate to while I was on the piano were my drum reflexes!
It really shaped my way of making lead melodies. If you listen to it closely they really stick to the percussion parts. I don’t play drums a lot anymore, but during my stay in LA, my friends and I had the chance to be in this incredible studio. We were jamming every morning, him on the grand piano and me on the drums; it felt so good to be back on the beat, and actually I noticed that all these years spent to compose are now impacting my way of playing the drums!
Do you think that being in different places has impacted your sound?
Yeah, completely. And actually, to stay in LA for two weeks, it had me think about a lot of aspects on my album. It’s kind of got me lost today because before I left Paris, I kind of knew my vision. But now, I don’t know. It’s a bit confused, because I discovered so much freedom, like a different way to see the music; to see the texture of your sounds.
I listen to a lot of albums, and I really thought about the concept of the album, you know? And so, I guess I have to take more time again to think about what I want to express. And actually, the main part of the album was made, not in Paris, but in Barcelona. I lived there for almost a year.
So what can you tell us about your first debut album? It’s coming out early 2020 right?
I hope so.
I have two singles; one is kind of really finished — I mean finished in the way of the mix is done, and I’m kind of doing the video right now. So it will come in in 2020, but the whole album, we’ll see. I don’t want to regret anything. Even if I know that I will regret in maybe 2-3 years, but at the moment I realize that I want it to be 100% sure with what I put out.
I really thought about my music, I think about it every day, but conceptually and sonically. I already released this first LP called Yo bene and there were a few directions in it, and I guess the album is going more into the “Flash” direction. I realized that this song [and “Quand tu danses le dimanche”] were really the ones that had my special sounds, the more personal part. And so, I guess the album is kind of an evolution of this path. I don’t think it’s going to have pop songs, in a technical way. It’s all still a bit in construction.
You just opened for Polo & Pan, and when I asked them about touring with you, they mentioned that they first reached out when they heard “Flash.” Also funny because my ex-boyfriend is French and I had him make me a French playlist when we first met, and “Flash” was one of them. This song is really encapsulating – maybe a new Parisian anthem?
So what is your process? Do you write your own lyrics? Or do you collaborate with different people?
At the beginning, during my time in Barcelona, it was really me alone. It was in the need of thinking, “What is my music? What is my sound, and what do I want to express?”
So it was just me alone, because I didn’t want any distractions or other people’s influence. It was really the beginning of the creation, but now I have the songs, and I kind of show it to a lot of people: to my friends, my family. I’m trying to get the feelings that I cannot have because it’s me who has done the song. I’m just too close from that, so I try to take a step back with other people’s looks and feelings.
And so in LA, I did this a lot, and it helps a lot actually. But it’s not about trusting the others, you just kind of watch their reactions to the song, and see, “Okay, maybe this sound is not the good moment, not the good vibes.”
So your PR describes your sound as pulling from a “70s Italian film soundtracks” — what Italian films are your favorite?
Actually, I didn’t watch any of those films. I’ve seen a few of the classical ones with Ennio Morricone. But for me, it’s not about the movies; I kind of think that these songs are the gems, you have beautiful songs and the movies are really not that good.
Also, I’m kind of scared because I have known the music before the movie and I kind of have my kind of vision of it, like my own dreams of the song and of the images, and I don’t want to see other images!
You’ve also described your music as “dreaming while dancing.” What do you dream about?
When I compose? I don’t really know… I think it is more flashes and shapes, sometimes I imagine people in a club, like some flashes of girl’s hair waving, the mood of some dancefloors, you know? But also more peaceful things. I have this drawing of a woman on a sailboat that inspires me a lot. In a general way, this is the feeling of love and melancholy that I love to dream about when I listen to some music, so I try to spread the same energy with my songs.
You collaborate with a lot of musicians, what was it like working with Vendredi sur Mer?
Vendredi sur Mer was the first project that I ever produced. At the time, I didn’t even know what a producer was, so it was really interesting to discover this new world. It started by me remixing “La femme à la peau bleu.” The label and her loved it so much they made it the original version! After that, I made her first EP. I was sending her my songs, which were not really made for a voice, in a way, without a pop structure you know. Yet a few days later, I was receiving the song with her voice. Every time I was really impressed by how she managed to put the words here and there, and also how her really personal lyrics were completely changing the song. Working for her album was more like traditional producing, we were in a country house making the songs together, really special too.
Who are you excited about in the current Parisian music scene? Any great emerging artists?
To be honest not that much…there is Philippe Katerine that I really love and I am really happy this guy exists. Angèle a little bit, even if I think the songs she has released yet are maybe not using her voice in the way I think it could be cool. Today, the thing is that the artists that I know in France are not really making me dream. When I hear their songs, sometimes, I feel that their music is too much focusing about radios, hits, it is not charming for me. Plus, at the end, the music looks alike. I believe it is like that because France is not big enough to make sophisticated music grow like it should. I remember my friends Sacha Rudy telling me how he was happy to see that amount of people at Camp Flog Gnaw enjoying the Solange show, a project like this in France is hard to imagine for me, it would be considered as something marginal I guess.
Dream collab for 2020?
Well, Solange! Her last album completely blew me away for like two months and I am coming back at it these days. Everything is so special like it makes no doubt that working with her makes you discover and understand many new things, or make disco hits with Yoko Ono.
What inspires you outside of music?
So during my whole stay in Barcelona, I had this book about Picasso – which was called Propos sur l’art. I think the translation would be like, “Thoughts on Art,” or something like that. It was a couple of discussions of Picasso with his friends about the creation process. This was really inspiring.
Also, the sculptor called [Alberto] Giacometti, because one of the main things that is completely incredible with this guy, was that he used to destroy a lot of his art to make it again and make it better. And for me, this was important, because in a way, at the beginning, I was kind of scared to lose a song and to destroy something I did. Because I was like “Oh maybe, I did it once. I cannot do it again,” you know? I wasn’t sure of my skills.
And to see that someone had the courage to destroy the piece to do it again, because they didn’t think it was personal enough, for this kind of thing. It was like, “Wow.” And of course, you can do it again because it comes from you. Of course, you can do it again and even better. That was very helpful for my sounds.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Weekend Playlists.