Shlohmo: “I don’t think it’s a very easily digestible record”

Henry Laufer is Shlohmo. LA local, musician, founder of music collective // brand Wedidit – which includes RL Grime, Ryan Hemsworth, Groundislava, D33J, Nick Melons, Juj, 2KWTVR, SUS BOY and Purple – and above all else, all round nice dude to talk to. I had the pleasure of talking to Henry just after the announcement of his WEDIDIT AUS//NZ tour alongside Purple, D33J and Nick Melons, and following the release of his huge new album Dark Red just over a month ago. The music, the critics, the shows, the fam and future – we talked about it all. Here’s what he had to say.

Henry, dude – you’ve been killing it lately –

Ah thank you man.

– You just wrapped your US tour last week, your European tour is coming up and you’ve just announced a massive Australia // New Zealand tour – how does it feel at the moment?

It’s feeling very busy.

What are your plans for today?

The schedule for today is a different one. While I’m in LA – nothing. I have basically a week off in between the LA show and when I have to go to Europe so I’m just in LA. Like today, me and Nick Melons, and RL Grime, and D33J are about to go to our studio to meet up with Jacques Greene who’s just come into town, and we’ll probably just not do anything and watch Vine videos and Worldstar together.

That sounds like a very chill day. When Burial came out you were quoted as saying “You don’t have to like it, just listen to it.” Since Dark Red has come out, has anyone directly told you that they don’t like it? It’s got to be your most popular release since Fuck You All The Time.

Mm yeah it’s funny – I’ve actually seen… I think all the people like it and then all the critics hate it, has been what I’ve seen. I think all the bigger critics like you know, all the whack ones, all the sneakdiss internet boys. But you know, it’s interesting, I don’t think it’s a very easily digestible record, so I wasn’t expecting critics to love it necessarily. I was expecting the critics to line up with the people’s opinion and it looks like it didn’t – which was interesting to say the least.

Do you think that because of this big change in the sound of your music, your fanbase has changed? Is the crowd at your shows the same or different to what it was?

The crowd I think is exactly the same which is really cool. Um, I don’t know if it’ll be exactly the same next time. You know what I’m saying? I don’t really realise what I’m doing when I’m making shit, so it’s not like I’m like, “Oh this is a weird sound, this is a crazy different sound, this is gonna turn a lot of people away”, you know what I mean? It’s like, for me it was a very natural progression. I wasn’t making anything that I was like, “This is a new sound for me,” so when people say that it’s kind of like, “Okay I see what you’re saying, the influences are maybe different, but for me, it’s coming from the same place as the other ones.” All that said, coming to see a show and watching me playing the fucking band and playing guitar, it doesn’t matter what the music actually sounds like. People are going to associate that with rock music. You know what I mean? And now, it’s funny, you know five years ago I couldn’t get people to fuckin’ take me seriously with a laptop and now I can’t fuckin’ make people take me seriously without a laptop! People are now… Five years later, DJ’s are so much more digestible than a band play the exact same music that someone would play as a DJ. That’s not to say that this music is “DJ playable”, because it’s very not, but I don’t think my other music was either. And yet somehow, the laptop made people be like, “Oh it’s electronic music, it’s okay it’s going to be weird.” But now, this is too weird, a band is too weird. The classical structure of a band is too strange for new kids, it’s weird.

In using a band for your live sets do you hope that will stretch out the crowd’s musical tastes and think beyond what electronic music can be?

I mean, shit, I think that’s all that anyone could hope for! I don’t think that that was necessarily ever my intention, of anything. I try not to think about anybody when I’m making music. Releasing it is just something that’s a part of the game, but when I’m making it, you know, I’m not thinking about how it’s going to impact or make people think differently about something or whatever. But if anything, if it can provide a service for dumb kids to like different kinds of music, then that’s awesome.

Do you think that using the band is something that you’ll continue with? How do you find performing with a band compared to doing a set on the decks?

Oh it’s a totally different experience. It’s not even really comparable, I think. I mean, especially after this, but I always looked at DJing as not being serious. Even when I was playing shows before, I knew that it wasn’t as serious as it could be. There’s no pressure, it’s not a challenge to go up in front of people and press play on songs and mixing is not an issue, you know what I mean? Like people pretend like DJing is hard, it’s fucking not. Playing music; it can be difficult, DJing can not. So it’s definitely made me look at that differently, but that said, I still am a DJ at other times. Like, I still DJ with records, I think people can be both. But also, I make a lot of varied electronic music at the same time that I haven’t shown anyone that has no band and playability, there’s no musicality there. There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been making that’s just fuckin’, a drum machine. So I can’t even say what’s going to happen next. I always say, “It’s going to get even weirder,” and it usually does, so we’ll just fuckin’ see about it.

That’s a sick way to play it. With playing your shows as the three piece, you’re playing all your own material. But can people expect that at any point you might jump on the decks, or are you making a point of not doing that on this tour?

I think we might be doing some afterparties or something, but I’m pretty sure that all the the shows are booked right now are all band – where I will be recreating the majority of the new record as well as some older cuts – but everything will be full band yeah. Full band is just me, a drummer and D33J on guitar and synth and shit.

Sick, sick. You’ve been in Australia super recently, just in October for the Listen Out tour, what do you like about Australia that keeps bringing you back to play?

Honestly, it’s like the easiest fuckin’ place to tour ever. I love Australia. The food is so good everywhere, you guys got real good coffee, and traveling is so easy. Flying is so easy in Australia compared to the States. But yeah, definitely what keeps me coming back is the shows are really good. Australian kids have this thing where they know how far away they are. They know how rare it is to get people that they fuck with to come through, so it’s always a very appreciative crowd. Way less faded, even in big cities people are really hyped, which is always a good feeling!

Dude, we’re so keen to have you again.

Yeah no, 100%

I was just going to ask about Wedidit as well. You started Wedidit when you were 16/17 – you’ve just released this mega successful album, so I wanted to know where that 16 year old you thought you’d be now?

Honestly, I do not fucking know. Like, I was planning on… I went to art school, I was doing painting and drawing and print-making and graphic design and that type of shit. I knew I always wanted to like create a brand, I thought I’d probably be doing that. I didn’t know that music would be my focus at all. Literally, at all. I would have never guessed that, that music would have a part in it. I would’ve seen myself running a similar brand to Wedidit but maybe without me doing the music making. Somehow that hobby took a bigger course or something, I don’t know it just became the main focus.

You guys all work with a similar image, a similar aesthetic, but all your music is really different. Do you think each of you brings something different to each other’s music?

Totally. I mean, I think we all make music very separately, with very different mentalities and purposes with the music. I think what I make really makes me happy, and what RL makes genuinely makes him happy. You know what I mean? And I think what’s tight about it is the overlying general person and aesthetic of all the people that we’re involved with are all the same. We’re all cliché, but we’re all times on the same clock in a sense. They’re my kinfolk. Someone that makes maybe what people would consider a more similar type of music to me, I would maybe not like them as a person, and not fuck with them. And somehow, we’re all able to make very polar and different music and somehow, like you said, it matches under this umbrella of the Wedidit dynasty.

nsf8ijyoxootomegooncWEDIDIT COLLECTIVE (photo via TheFader)

And how important do you think the evolution of that dynasty has been in your success as a musician?

Very. I think they go hand in hand. Both have been a very slow process. Like a very slow, uphill thing. First it was me bringing Wedidit along with me, as my career took off or whatever you want to call it, but then it sort of became this symbiotic thing with everyone contributing equally, and all the fans finding out about everybody. And Wedidit is now, it’s like above everything, above all of us. Without that, none of us would have our careers at where they’re at.

You boys are all just a big group of best friends, so does it make it hard to stay close to your best friends when you’re all spread over the world just killing it?

Haha, nah. Like the last month was the best thing. It’s interesting being on a bus for five weeks with the same six friends – ’cause I can’t get sick of them because everyone’s just fucking ridiculously funny and not fucking with each other. Everyone genuinely cares about each other. We’re not just some dudes on a bus. It’s interesting, I think that we can all not see each other for a while, and the international homies too – like you can not see them again for like two or three months and you see them again, and it’s the same exact shit.

What are you planning after the tours? You’ve got so many that it’s hard to see the horizon but what’s happening after that?

Just literally after all the fucking touring is done, I’m just gonna sit back at home and make a bunch more stuff. I wanna get more serious with the manufacturing of our merch and stuff, and Wedidit – we’re all just working so hard on our separate things, and Wedidit is the central passion project of all of ours that we just do because it’s necessary and when we have time off all our other shit. But I think it’s time that we really figured out our shit and made it as real as it is to the rest of the world.

Hit up tickets for Shlohmo’s Wedidit Tour here: