Five Minutes with Shlohmo at MEG Montreal 2013
- Words: Shawn Reynaldo
- Photo: Adrian Villagomez
Last weekend, XLR8R went north of the border to check out a few days of MEG Montreal—for those that missed it, our complete festival review is here—and while there, we convinced a few of our favorite artists to sit down for a quick chat. One of them was Shlohmo (a.k.a. Henry Laufer), who headlined Thursday night's festivities at Club Soda. Just before the LA producer took to the stage, we got him talking about his love for Montreal, his recent forays into professional studio production, the current state of his Wedidit collective, and what's happening in his increasingly popping hometown.
XLR8R: You've played Montreal a bunch of times before. Do you have any particular affinity for it?
Shlohmo: Yeah. It's definitely one of my favorite places to come back to. Whether it's my intention or not, I feel like I always end coming back here more than other places, but I'm really glad I do... I feel a very nice vibe from the people. The people that I fuck with here are very similar to the people that I fuck with in other cities, like in LA. They remind me a lot of my friends.
You released the Laid Out EP earlier this year. Are you working on new material?
I'm working on a bunch of stuff right now. During all of my free time, when it's just me, I'm really trying to work on a record, like an LP for next year. But I'm very back and forth between that and I've also been doing production for other people. I've been trying to get into the songwriting scene a little bit.
When you do production for other people, is it for singers and rappers?
Yeah, I've been trying to get into that. And I worked with a songwriter for the first time. I made a beat and he wrote a top line—that was the first time I've ever done something like that. I'm just getting used to studio world, because my music comes from very bedroom, by-myself-type shit. It's an interesting dichotomy doing both at the same time and kind of seeing the industry side of things while I'm working on a record. I'm definitely trying to make the record very not that.
When you're doing professional studio work, is it fun?
It is. Just because it's something that I don't do often. I was always interested in it, but I never really got to see what it was like being in the studio with someone. It's fun sometimes, and then other times, after like six or seven hours when everyone is too faded to work anymore, the room gets stale as fuck. Then it gets awkward when no one wants to say anything about how to move forward.
In those situations, do you have to sometimes say, "This isn't working"?
Right now, I'm just the guy that makes the beat. I'm trying to direct the situation a little bit, but I'm still getting comfortable doing that. I don't know how to work Pro Tools, so I'm still trying to translate shit to an engineer. I'm like the middleman between rapper and engineer a lot of the time. People just can't talk to each other. It's always like that. Learning to be a producer's producer, middleman-type guy is fucking with me. But I like it because it's interesting.
Moving back to your own work, Laid Out definitely had a few clubbier tracks on it. There used to be a huge divide between what your own music sounded like and what you were playing in the club. Are you trying to bring those together a little bit?
I don't even think it was necessarily a conscious "let's make this an album that's easier to play out in DJ sets." I think I've just been listening to a lot more techno, electronic dance stuff, and older house. The 115-to-130-bpm house rhythm is really getting me.
I feel like [my music] still sounds like me, like it's all the same synth and vocal work. It's funny, a lot of this new record [I'm working on], it's going 160, 180 bpm. It's not necessarily drum & bass, but I've been mad inspired by breaks and older jungle stuff. My girlfriend is a huge fan of old jungle and grew up in that. I was so unaware, living in LA, and I was young. I didn't know where to find jungle. Hearing that now, and getting the history of it, I've just been listening to that a lot. So, the bpms are getting faster I think.
More and more, it seems like the Wedidit crew is "growing up" and the individual members are getting more attention. How is the collective progressing and what is your role at this point?
It has really been progressing behind the scenes this last year, and next year is going to be crucial. Before, it was literally a blog. We didn't have a trademark or LLC or nothing. It was a fake record label. We were putting out music online and the money was going into our Paypal. We didn't have a bank account or anything. So this year, we are setting up distribution deals and are actually working with people. We have a whole team; it's still our people—people we grew up with—but now we have people working for us, like salaries and shit. My homie Nick Melons, he runs most everything now. He's really doing the management role. It's been a huge weird learning process because it grew up online... We don't know how this shit works. He's handling a lot of the work of running a label and I'm [being] more of a co-creative director with him. I do all of the art. I still do all the record covers and a lot of the design for the web stuff.
It seemed like the Wedidit membership was a bit fluid and nebulous for awhile. Has it solidified into something more defined?
We have a really solid really faction right now. We live in the same city, the direct family.
Who is in that?
RL Grime, Groundislava, Juj, me, D33J, Nick Melons, all the crucial LA heads. The extended family is being extended through releases, and there are people like Tommy Kruise, Salva, Baauer. All the people that we hang out with contribute. It's weird. Like Salva is only not in Wedidit because of Frite Nite, and I'm not a part of Frite Nite because of Wedidit. There is mad crossover, like Body High; Jerome LOL and Samo Sound Boy are Wedidit, but not.
How do you feel about the LA scene right now?
LA is really coming through recently. There is always some shit going on now, and I can't say that it was the same before I moved away [a few years ago]. Granted, I was also not 21 when I moved away, but it's not just club shit. There's warehouse shit going on all the time. House music is coming back. There are weird techno raves that you can actually go to now. It's cool. We're talking about opening a night ourselves. Everyone is getting older and saying, "Oh, I can start a club night now," from my generation. I feel like LA is definitely coming up. Downtown, there are people walking around now. That wasn't a "thing." It's crazy, definitely different than what it was even three or four years ago.
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