It is my opinion that Hip/Hop is a genre where new ideas and methods aren’t easily found. When an artist comes around that isn’t necessarily trying to “change the game” but more so is truly exciting by making the music that he wants to hear, that is when it gets exciting. Whether success or fame follows is up to the listener, success and fame are two things that I am certain will continue to follow Brooklyn’s Theophilus London. This is a rough edit so pause a second with the grammar, enjoy.
1. Very simply, who are you and why are you making music?
Im Theophilus London. I make music because it is a healthy decision that I chose in high school. I make music because it heals myself and I’ve gotten through a lot making music and coming up with new stuff.
2. Last week you played Letterman, can you tell me a little about that? Where you happy how everything came out?
It was great man, it was exciting, good to be on such a big stage, guys like James Brown and Michael Jackson played that stage, some of my all time favorites. I was totally stoked.
3. Sara Quinn of Tegan and Sara fame plays on your new E.P “Lovers Holiday” how did that all come together? How did the song she appears on “Why Even Try” come together?
She is on my label so I knew her from that, we became friends, I go to see her shows, I really wanted her to be on my record. I wanted a couple girls to be on my record and I called her up and she was into it.
One night we were playing an art school college last year, and some girl kept dancing on the stage, and my security kept telling her to get off the stage and she wouldn’t. And my guy said to her “you think you’re special, you’re probably not bitch.” She cried. I heard about that and I wanted to write a song about it. I wanted to write a negative love song. Michael Jackson has “Billie Jean” and its an amazing song. In that song he is telling all the girls that the kid isn’t him, its an amazing love song, its negative but you can dance to it, and I wanted to do that with “Why Even Try.” We have amazing people on it, Sara is on that, my friend Ariel produced it, and we even have Diplo scratching at the end. It is a fun record man. I wrote the whole EP in Los Angeles, its got that summery vibe that people are always looking for. That LA vibe.
4. Is it difficult recording with someone who plays music in a totally different genre? How was laying that song down?
Music is a universal language man, its not broken up with genres, she got it, she loved it. I want everyone to be personally involved with the music, I like to do the collab, it came together really easily.
5. I’ve heard you say before that going forward you wanted to focus more on song composition and less on rhyming. For the next album was there any move to really go forward with that?
The next record is actually done, its an eleven song album, I’m mastering right now, a lot of good thought out records, a lot of amazing concepts, I have been taking singing lessons so my singing is definitely improving, and I am working with a lot of great musicians on those amazing concepts.
6. How would you describe your music to someone that hasn’t given you the chance before?
I’m a songwriter first. I am trying to write popular music, I AM writing popular music. Certainly a lot of electronic elements, a lot of fantasy, a lot stories thriving off the love theme whether its negative or positive. I guess it is very raw, people like to say “genre blending.”
7. This is your first time playing DC, for a new city what do you want to hear people saying when you leave the stage?
I want to hear they had a really good time, I am coming here playing the songs that they have been supporting and listening too. I am happy that we sold out tonight, its my first time here and it is a gorgeous way to start out the night. My birthday is tomorrow, its a gorgeous way to start my birthday.
8. I know you are big on Twitter, how important do you think it is for an artist to connect with his fans like that?
Oh its great! My fans are refreshing their pages every second, I wish that I could have talked to my favorite artists growing up, bored in class waiting to get out of school. Talking to an artist and having them get back to you, its real rad man.
9. I write for a college paper, what would be the best advice you can offer someone in college that doesn’t know what they want to do yet?
You gotta figure out. Maybe get a girlfriend, she could inspire you to do something. Find something that inspires you. Put yourself around really amazing people and good situations will follow. Good memories will happen. For the guys, making them laugh is cool, I am one to make a girl laugh.
10. What is in front of you on your bucket list?
A lot of stuff. I am designing my own shoes right now. Five years from now I want to design museums, I want to curate great art in great halls. I want to still be involved in music, making a lot of albums, collaborating with great artists.
11. Hip Hop is a really light term these days. You are hip/hop, Kanye is hip/hop, Odd Future is hip/hop. Is there a running element with all that?
Hip/hop is in all these records. It has really evolved, anything that hasn’t evolved should just be over and hip/hop HAS evolved. The guys you just named have their own unique take on it, but it has got to keep evolving. Everybody is such a huge character today, it is amazing to be in this era right now, huge characters everywhere, producing good shit always. It is fun.
12. What do you think is it about your songs that connects to people that may not be big into hip/hop?
I just focus on the songwriting, I don’t focus on how many bars I can spit, I don’t try and be the best rapper in the world. I try and compete with myself with every song I write. There are songs I scrap that you will never hear and there are reasons for that. There are different levels of being a songwriter and I think I am climbing up those steps.
13. One question I ask everyone I talk to is this. Plato has a theory that once an artist creates something he loses right to it. That once it is out there for consumption for people to interpret he no longer owns that song, do you agree?
Oh yeah man. I totally agree that is exactly it. I’m never mad if that happens. I do agree that once you let it out its out. I just finished the second record but some of those songs I haven’t touched in months and already to me, they have changed. It’s like giving your baby away for someone else to take care of. I never get mad at though, I never get mad at critics. If you don’t like this next one its my job to work on the next one. I’m not gonna tell em “fuck you!” If you don’t like it I am going to keep working hard and maybe you will like the next one. That is my approach, people have to grow. I know people that hated my first mix tape and now they fucking love it and play it for their dads. I wasn’t mad at them because they didn’t get it, but they grew with it and now they love it. It’s all about growing. The new record drops in May so all of that will come together soon, look out for it!