Art School Dropout Heads New Wave of L.A. Producers - Shlohmo Interview
Walton Brush Shlohmo
Bouncing between three different cities over the past couple years, Shlohmo has had a crash course in everything from Low End Theory-inspired hip-hop to house music and New York DJ culture. Born Henry Laufer in LA's Fairfax District, the lanky 21-year-old producer, affectionately known to friends as "Hank", dropped out of art school in San Francisco to concentrate on his first full-length album. Released in August, the album, titled Bad Vibes, cut across a wide swath of critics and fans with its progressive, multidimensional style. Prior to his first European tour, we talked to Shlohmo about his new follow-up, the Vacation EP.
Was it a conscious effort with your new EP to depart from the ambient sound on Bad Vibes?
I think I've been getting back in to the electronic sound more, whereas before I was trying to get as far away from that as possible. Bad Vibes is definitely more organic and this stuff is more danceable and more electronic. It's kind of a weird collection of stuff but I felt like it all went together well.
What's your background prior to the style of music you're currently making?
My dad's a musician so music has always been around the house. He's a producer and songwriter, and he has a studio in the back so there were always musicians coming through the house. He's worked with Fiona Apple and Charlotte Hatherly and plays the Beatles Tribute at the Bowl every summer. So I learned piano and guitar at a pretty young age and started making beats that me and my friends would rap over when I was around 13 or 14.
You started taking things more seriously though when you got to college?
Yeah, I was making stuff under the name Henry from Outerspace in my first year of college. I did that for a year then changed the name to Shlohmo the next summer. Then I made Shlohmoshun and Shlo-Fi and dropped out after the next year.
What sort of effect did Low End Theory have on your decision to combine dance music and hip-hop?
It was just a beautiful arena for everything that I enjoyed. It showed me what was possible, seeing people like Daedelus and Flying Lotus. Everybody was combining the effects of dance music with hip-hop. It was an arena for all that stuff, and then I had always been interested in ambient music, but I was really introduced to different kinds of textures through people like Matthewdavid. It's definitely important to me. I've spent a lot of time at Low End.
Who all is involved in the Wedidit Collective?
That's something I co-run with one of my best friends. It's Melonius Drunk, my homey Nick, and then Groundislava and Juj. That's probably going to be my main focus this year. I'm just going to concentrate on making it an established label where we have more of a platform to put out music.
Shlohmo's Vacation EP is out February 7th on FoF Music.