Henry Laufer, better known as Shlohmo, is no stranger to Australian shores. Ahead of his third national tour with BBE and Splendour in the Grass; we spoke to the man about his new album, touring with friends, the live show, his label mate PURPLE, WEDIDIT's collaboration with Spooky Black (Corbin) and where Shlohmo seems to fit in the world of music.
Joe: You've wrapped up your first 'Dark Red' tour in the states; what was it like travelling with your label mates Nick, D33j and PURPLE around the country?
Shlohmo: It was amazing man. It was so cool to do the tour in this dream scenario. One of my best friends was doing merch, I had my friends in the band and my best friends opening for me. No fucked up things happened on the road. It was a very mild experience on the bus this time actually. It was my third or forth tour around the states on a bus and everything ran smoothly. Border crossing was simple as fuck, and we had a dope bus driver who doesn’t like cops. It was really chill. Just the usual drunken shit.
J: You're on a short break between touring right now back in LA, and heading off to Europe in a few days. What do you find yourself getting up too in down-time?
S: Literally, what I am doing right now is lying on a couch, crumbling weed with one hand while talking on the phone with you in the other hand. I am going too, in a second, roll a spliff with one hand and then smoke it while we're on the phone together, then afterwards take an UBER to the studio where I'll meet up with D33j, Nick Melons, RL Grime, Jacques Greene- who is in town- and we're all gonna smoke and make rap music together. (a beautiful thing)
J: This will mark your third visit to Australia, each time the Shlohmo and WEDIDIT fan base heavily outweighs the last, I have noticed. Generally speaking, How do you find Australian crowds in comparison to home in the states?
S: The Australian crowds are amazing, if not more enthusiastic because it's much less common. They know how far away it is, so they're really fucking enthusiastic when any of their favourite dudes come to town. The people in Los Angeles and New York; they're in the coolest fucking cities, but they're also the most jaded because they just don’t give a shit as much as they get too see things far more often. They see the most of everything. But I think in Australia- even in Sydney and Melbourne- everyone is still so hyped as fuck when the acts come down. It’s a good feeling, it’s a little reality check for the rest of the world sometimes.
J: Your new album 'Dark Red' is unlike projects you have released before. Their is a really emotive, quite aggressive flow throughout the album. What was the response from your friends, family and label mates when they first listened through?
S: The first time I played it all the way through for all my friends and management, who are pretty much all the same people, it was just a bunch of people sitting in a room together listening. I don’t remember anything being said by anyone until it was over, and then it was just like ‘FUCK’. Someone told me it was like they were socked in the stomach (surely a good thing). A lot of them kind of looked as though they had just seen someone get hit by a car and didn’t know what to say.
J: Is the album, being as emotive as it sounds, a reflection of things in your life such as friendships, relationships, loss?
S: I think for me the process comes form such a real honest, isolated place, where its becomes such a therapy for me. Like an automatic journal that Im not even thinking about. There is this inevitability in that anything in my life will reflect in what I am making with music. If I tried keeping it separate I don't think i would like what I made. The music I love the most is always the most reflective of what happens in my life.
J: Will the live show consist only of the new album, or will you be sneaking some older songs in?
S: Mostly the album, but there will be some older tracks. We will remake some of the 'Laid Out' stuff, and songs from the 'Vacation' EP. Basically whatever is translatable for the setup, and also mood-wise for the show. It has to be very specific to the record, so bustin’ out ‘Places’ in the middle just isn't going to happen.
J: Before the release of 'Dark red', WEDIDIT dropped a collab with Corbin (Spooky Black). How did that get tee’d up? Did you also fall in love with his song ‘Without You’ and just think 'Yep, I gotta work with this guy'?
S: The first time I heard Corbin's music, like before viral Spooky Black days, a friend showed me the video like ‘yo, how is this fool not on your label’. I mean he's just a cool, weird kid from Minnesota who just doesn’t want to talk to anybody. He followed me on Twitter and we just started talking. I think we were like the only people who weren’t trying to poach him, and he kind of respected that. I mean we (WEDIDIT) are the same; we don’t care we just want to make music. Not for money or anything inparticular. We spoke for less than a year and then he just came out to LA with The Stand4rd, his group. The cool thing about having our studio is that we can just have anyone we want come through and just make music however the fuck we want without the pressures of the engineer or having to book time, so it was nice. They were here for a few days with us, and we just made the song.
J: Do you ever go back and listen to your older music? Even back to the really old releases like the 'Beat CD' or your 'Henry From Outer Space' stuff?
S: I do! I mean I haven’t gone back to the 'Henry From Outer Space' stuff for a few years now, but I do go back a lot. Whenever I am in the studio and if I'm with someone, perhaps a rapper, who wants to listen to beats, I am like 'shit!'. Literally in panic mode rifling through years of beats and I'll just end up finding some stuff that’s like ‘Oh shit I made this in like 2010’, do you like it?’ and then hearing it again for the first time in ages feels weird, but it'll be the one that they like. But I do like to re-listen to older stuff. It's like looking at old photographs from when I was 18 and seeing where I was at at the time.
(Treat yourself to some of Shlohmo's older work. For those who remember these and those of you who are yet to hear them. Interview continues below)
J: I read somewhere that you sometimes find music frustrating. What do you find of Soundcloud culture, and the hundreds of thousands of kids out there sharing their music with the world?
S: It’s a very complicated thing because it's not a medium, its just one of the pathways for everyone’s mediums to get together. I mean its not SoundCloud’s fault, SoundCloud is a fucking privilege. I think- and it isn't even necessarily wrong- that there has been a kind of change in creative discourse, and I am finding it harder to judge it the more I think about it because of the innate beauty of being able to share everything, and people not having to think about what they put on the internet and everything existing all together. I mean the problem with discourse now is how music gets released, like what music’s role is in peoples lives gets very confused. People like to make playlists, and people like to make soundtrack's to their lives. Like ‘this is my getting ready music’ and ‘this is my driving music’. It's like this warm tone of turn-up music. But, you know, it has its fucking place. To be honest, I fuckign love trap music. Like real trap music and fake trap music. I like EDM trap music. I don’t care. But, Im not gonna buy it, but if its on im not gonna turn it off. That’s where I am at with it. I feel like its all the same. I'm not mad at it is basically what I am saying.
J: I watched an old interview with you where you said you didn’t feel as though you fit in anywhere. Not even in LA where you grew up. A few years on now, have things changed in that sense?
S: I still don’t necessarily feel as though I fit in anywhere, but I am not looking for a place to fit in. Me and my friends fit in with each other. I meet people all around the world who I feel are the same kin. I mean Luis- PURPLE- is this 31 year old Portuguese man who has now become one of my best friends. In terms of ‘scenes’, I still feel like that, but there will always be people all around the world that I will connect with.
J: To wrap things up; can you elaborate on how PURPLE - this 31 year old Portuguese man- came to be apart of this tight, long term friendship that is WEDIDIT?
S: PURPLE and one of his friends run a record label called 'Terrain Ahead', and they're based in like London and Berlin, but we started talking to them about 5 years ago and it just happened really naturally. We spoke with Luis a lot, and he was speaking a lot with Nick and we were just like 'hey, wed love to get your music to a bigger audience if people if you're with it'. It just felt so akin to what we were doing. It felt wrong to not include him and it was literally the perfect fit and I've just spent the past month and a half with him on tour, and he's been living in LA. It has just been wonderful developing his project and watching it grow.
(Listen to Shlohmo's remix of PURPLE's 'The Club' below)
Shlohmo will be touring Australia come July, courtesy of BBE. Tickets won't be around for long, so head to the event page HERE to scoop some up while you can, and check out the tour dates below.
23/7 in Aukland, NZ @ Kings Arms
24/7 in Wellington, NZ @ Bodega
25/7 in Adelaide @ Rocket Bar
26/7 in Byron Bay @ Splendour in the Grass
30/7 in Melbourne @ The Corner Hotel
31/7 in Sydney @ The Metro theatre
Interview by Joseph Smith