Theophilus London Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
The hip-hop game has undergone a wave of change and innovation over the course of the last several years, and one of the artists at its vanguard has been Theophilus London. The definition of a modern musical chameleon, the Brooklyn native has risen to prominence on the strength of a diverse skillset – emcee, singer, songwriter – and a sultry sound that incorporates not only rap and soul, but also electro, funk, '80s pop and post-punk. Now, London's introducing the audacious style he established on street releases like This Charming Mixtape and I Want You to mainstream audiences with the release of Warner Bros debut Lovers Holiday, an EP which finds him documenting the brave new world of modern love. Arriving on store shelves today, the set comes complete with reader-acclaimed, Sara Quin (of Tegan and Sara) assisted single "Why Even Try" and leaked cut "Flying Overseas."
In this exclusive, five-question interview, Theophilus London steps into the Booth to discuss his transition from underground buzz to mainstream prominence, the ways in which romance has changed in the 21st century, and how his recent travels abroad have influenced his latest project.
In our feature for Why Even Try, one of our users described the song as "underground cool but but with mainstream appeal." Is that an accurate description of your music?
Yeah, that is a somewhat accurate description. I'd say raw for mainstream, but raw can become "mainstream" as history shows.
You said that your upcoming EP, Lovers Holiday, is "...about modern love. To document what love is in 2011." As long as you brought is up, what is love in 2011?
Expression, easy access, trials, story, emotion, fantasy, flying away, understanding, and the Internet. That's what love is now and it's not really being documented in Trey Songz' songs [laughs].
You recorded Lovers Holiday between Los Angeles and Stockholm. Beyond naming one of the EP's tracks Flying Overseas, how did all that international travel influence the project's sound?
My international travels definitely inspired this [project]. Mainly, the universal language (of love). When you pick up a copy of the EP on February 8, on ITunes, you'll hear it for yourself.
You're also currently working on your debut album. What will it take for you to consider that album release a success?
I'm actually mixing the album next week in London. Good ole times. All I need is for my support system to support it. Meaning me [getting to] travel all over the world to be accessible to that support system, and express myself through performance art.
You've come a long way, both literally and figuratively, from the artist who first appeared on our pages in '08 as a guest on an XV record, High Five. Considering how far you've traveled, where are you going?
Making solid concept records and performing. That is pretty much it.
Last words? Shout outs? Confessions?
Shout out to DJBooth.net. This is huge for me. I'm excited. SWAG!