Chicago duo Louis the Child discuss their debut album ‘Here for Now’, a project that wades through different electronic styles but ultimately offers a great deal of good vibes in exchange for forcing you to confront your mortality.
“Little Things” – Louis The Child, Quinn XCII, Chelsea Cutler
If there was ever a summer to ponder your existence and the uncertainty of the future, it has to be 2020. Thankfully, Louis the Child created the perfect soundtrack for tackling these sometimes insurmountable ideas in their debut album Here for Now. Chicago’s own experimental electronic duo, Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren, explore the brevity of life, the irreversibility of the past and making the most of the time we have on this dynamic experience of an EDM album.
Coming at the idea of being “here for now” from all angles, each track offers a unique perspective on the idea, some about love and loss, some about chasing dreams and goals, and some that more simply remind us that every single second is golden, even the unremarkable ones. The two musicians, both in their early twenties, have been making music together for over half a decade now but have never once lost their enthusiasm and sense of wonder, which is one of their biggest draws to fans. Here For Now comes at the perfect time for many of us: not ignoring or disparaging the darkness of the world we’re in, rather choosing to shine light on the beautiful parts, the things that make it all worth it.
Atwood Magazine spoke with Louis the Child about Here For Now and the significance of those three little words, and their experiences creating their debut album with a vibrant cast of features (from Foster the People to Chelsea Cutler to EARTHGANG and more). The guys have stayed busy during quarantine in a myriad of creative outlets, and fans will be psyched to hear there’s even more new music slated for 2020. Their easy going positivity is infectious and inspiring, and the conversation will probably leave you ready to go create something spectacular of your own.
Stream: ‘Here for Now’ – Louis the Child
A CONVERSATION WITH LOUIS THE CHILD
Atwood Magazine: So what have you guys been up to during quarantine, have you been in LA this whole time?
Robby: Yeah, we’ve both been in LA the whole time. We finished up the album right before quarantine started. So it kind of timed out in a nice way where, you know, we finished a project and then we were kind of stoked to be locked inside and creating a ton of new music, and started designing a lot of clothes and stuff too. And reading a lot more, practicing more instruments, like we’ve definitely been taking advantage of this time as it’s probably the longest we’ve gone without traveling anywhere or performing any shows in the past, like five years or so. So it’s been interesting slowing down.
Freddy: It’s been really nice though, we’ve been making a lot of things. And we’ve been able to do everything we want to.
That’s awesome. I saw that you guys have been working on poetry and photography and stuff too, on Instagram.
Freddy: Yeah, totally.
So since the album came out, have you been starting on any new musical ventures or is it more just trying to be creative in all these other ways?
Robby: Yeah, a little bit of both, you know, we’re getting creative in other ways outside of music, but we’re finishing up another project that we’re gonna put out this year that’s a lot more electronic. With all the songs we have we wanted to make another project that’s more electronic and less about songwriting. Especially with the fact that we’re not gonna be doing shows for a little while we’re really trying to put out as much music as possible. Even though we just dropped an album we’re still planning on putting out a bunch more music.
That kind of ties into the next thing I was gonna ask but Here For Now being your debut album kind of sets the stage - is this what we can expect your music to sound like going forward or are you still going to be branching out on each new body of work?
Robby: Yeah, I think we’re always branching out and trying to do new and different things and not just give people what they might expect every single time. We’re always just trying to do something different than what we just did.
What were some of your goals for Here for Now? Like when you started out the project as your first album? And do you think those evolved over the course of putting it together?
Freddy: I think what we really wanted with our debut album was just a concept that would make us proud until the day we die. Something that we can stand behind, something that fuels us to keep going, and something that means a lot to us and comes from our hearts. And Kids at Play, the EP we put out before this one, did not have a cohesive message throughout the project and in the name, so we were like let’s reserve this debut album for a really special meaning and a special message.
Robby: We definitely also wanted to be very diverse and showcase a lot of our different interests in style that we’re capable of and work with people that we really love. We definitely got to make a couple of those collaborations come through on the album which is really cool.
You had a lot of awesome people featured. Is there anyone else that you would like really love to work with or love to have featured in the future?
Robby: Oh yeah.
Freddy: Pretty much everyone. Frank Ocean, The Black Keys, Tyler the Creator.
Freddy: Tame Impala would be amazing. James Blake.
Robby: Kid Cudi
Robby: LeBron James.
Freddy: Shaq? He raps and produces.
That could be crazy. In general most mainstream listeners don’t usually know the faces behind the songs and who produces everything a lot of the time, are there any producers that you found especially inspirational on this album journey? Whether they worked on it or not.
Freddy: Definitely Robert Glasper. He’s a pianist but the rhythms and the mix of Black Radio 1 really shaped a lot of what I like leading up to this moment. And not a lot of young kids know of Robert Glasper.
Robby: As far as people in the process of making it though, like there’s one guy that would work with Jason Evigan, an amazing songwriter and producer. We’re always inspired by our friends like Imad Royal, Whethan. Yeah, those people definitely have had a very significant impact on our creativity and in our approach to music. And working with Foster the People as well, Mark Foster is an amazing songwriter and producer and you know, that whole experience with him was so awesome. We’re both huge Foster the People fans and especially their first record had a really big impact on both musically. So getting to work with Mark and be a part of the whole process with him and learn stuff from him was amazing.
In producing and creating music with other people, what do you find are the unique challenges to that because obviously you get an awesome product a lot of the time, but do you find that anything about that can be more challenging than just working between the two of you?
Freddy: A unique challenge would be like you’re working with a new person to be able to build a connection really fast and then get comfortable with each other to write something, you know less surface level. To cut to the core with someone faster, because if you’re just meeting someone, there’s some times where people don’t click musically or personality wise, they don’t click. It’s definitely a good thing to be able to open up everyone and have a good conversation and just get to know each other and get to know what is going on in the mind of everyone in the room going into writing a song.
Just kind of trying to create like a signature Louis the Child's sound while working with these different people and again, like you said, you want to always be trying new things, what do you think have been the most difficult parts of figuring out exactly what you want your sound to be andwhat you want to be identified by?
Freddy: Part of it is that you don’t have a choice what you’re identified by. You got to put out music and then at a certain point, people are like this classic, like Kanye sound or classic whatever sound, The public will say what your classic thing is and that starts to make you think, oh, okay, so that’s the classic sound. Do I have to keep doing that only, is that the only thing they like? But when it comes to creating we’re usually pretty open and just like to have a fun time and don’t really let those thoughts get in the way. But, you know, a lot of our sound comes from the tools we’re using and the instruments that we use on a computer or actual synths and what’s possible with them within all those parameters. So as long as we’re experimenting with all of the possibilities and the tools that’s kind of our thing, making cool sounds and fun, happy music.
Robby: I feel like the way that people talk about our music a lot is that it’s more like a feeling. It might not sound like we expected but it feels like a Louis the Child song, you know? It’s a feeling and I think the fact that we explore so many different sounds and styles, some people might confuse that for a “lack of direction” but I think our direction is that it’s very diverse, but it’s always gonna feel the same way.
Yeah, also with Here for Now having a very positive and upbeat feel to it but then at the same time you have all these lyrics on “Bittersweet” and “Free” that are pretty sad. So I guess how did you balance those two things? It’s obviously not a superficial album. There's like very abstract and meaningful themes to it but it still has a very positive feeling that it leaves. Is it troublesome to have those things coexist?
Freddy: No not at all, I think it’s very healthy to look at everything in life and see all sides and then come away with the positive. To keep those in your mind after you go through dark times and heavy states. And it is good to be aware of those and how they feel and, you know, the whole album is about being aware of a really sad thing, like it’s about all of us dying. We’re all here for now and we don’t know when we’re going to leave so that’s definitely a very sad fact that we’re bringing up and and the whole point of it is to say you don’t know when you’re going to go so you better appreciate now and the next second and the next because it could get taken away. And if you can, you should appreciate the time with other people, anyone in your life because their time is limited too.
The whole album is happiness based on a pretty sad thing and a heavy thing too. So, it makes sense that we would look at the bittersweet nature of life and have some sad, sad stories, like with “Free,” as long as it’s true to life and true to the human experience. if that was what made it, you know. The human experience that we all feel and that we feel individually, if it fit that then it fit this album. There’s a lot of heaviness in the world, it’s not just a happy place and it’s good for us to look at that. And be able to, you know, have the power to still bring yourself to a happy place because of all the great things. There’s a great quote like, just because there’s like one sick tree in the forest doesn’t mean you should only focus on the one tree, like tend to that tree but also appreciate all the healthy trees.
Well said. Did you guys write and put together all the songs on the album within a short period of time or are some of them from much earlier on in your guys' career?
Freddy: There are one or two songs that are much older than the rest, and the rest were all made within a year and some of them within six months. But overall minus one song, all within a year and a few months. But the whole idea of Here For Now kept building every time we wrote a new song, and what it meant to us in different takeaways. Each one being what it means to be here now in different ways.
Specifically about “Free,” I don't know if it's because that came out first and also last fall, but do you feel like there is some separateness to “Free” from the rest of the album? I think it just definitely stands out for a lot of people and I’m sure that’s intentional to some extent.
Robby: Yeah, I feel like with any project if you’re following through all the singles and then you listen to the project the singles do feel a bit like you’ve already formed this kind of connection to them on their own. So it’s different when you hear it in a project. On the album that one’s got the biggest drop to it and it’s a very big high moment in the project but I don’t think it really is separate or anything. I feel like it fits well into the project, it fits well with the track number that it’s at. But I definitely see what you’re saying, it has this huge drop at the end that you don’t really get elsewhere.
Freddy: It’s also one of the only relationship songs in the album, which often makes it feel different.
For sure different. I was fortunate enough to see you guys last fall live on the first Here for Now tour, but I was wondering do you have any big plans for when live music returns? For like changing up your shows or anything you can share about what you're looking forward to about that?
Robby: Yeah our tour got rescheduled to like end of summer next year. So fingers crossed, everything’s good by then. And what’s dope is that we have all the time between now and then. So I think we’re gonna be looking to change up some things and we have so much time to prepare for it. It’s still kind of early to really even know what we’re going to do, but we’re going to try and change the stage a little we have a couple ideas already.
Freddy: And also we’ll have so much new music and more to make, by the next show we have we’ll have probably double the catalog we have now. We’ll have oh, these are the new favorites, we’ll play It’s Strange to have that throwback, there will be a while different feel I think.
Yeah, I honestly can’t wait. So lastly, obviously you guys are really young and you found a lot of success really young, is there anything you'd want to impart on other artists and musicians and producers starting out kind of place you start.
Freddy: Totally. Rob and I have been reading this book called Atomic Habits, and that’s great, it’s a great read. If you don’t want to read it, basically the whole point is you should definitely be making these habits every single day to be doing all the aspects of whatever it is you want to be doing down the line. If you want to be a producer, I mean you don’t have to play piano or your drums but like, you really should be practicing these things as a producer like drums and piano and maybe maybe voice. And so every day, even if it’s five or ten or fifteen minutes, it’s great if you can spend a lot of time doing it, but it can be an everyday habit to be doing what you aren’t good at yet. And everyone starts there, and you start picking up and it’s just exponential if every single day you’re putting in work you’re building on the last day, and every day you don’t work, you’re kind of like losing some of that momentum you’re building. So if you’re doing things, every single day, and kind of meticulously, even if you have no time, find time to write for even just five minutes, just to have the writing juices flowing and getting that out and building that habit. Just any good habit you can form that you can be doing every single day that you’re working towards your goal is what is necessary. No amount of wishing you have the skills or like wishing you were at a certain point will take you there. You have to be determined to get there on your own and build that habit.
Robby: And most importantly you really have to believe in yourself and believe that you can accomplish the things that you want to accomplish and believe that you deserve to accomplish. Is there everything that will get you there? Yeah. And, you know, I would definitely say to any young artist or musician, producer, singer, whatever, you know, it’s 100% possible, and every single one of your heroes at one point was exactly where you are. And they did it so if they can do it why can’t you?
That is definitely inspiring, thank you guys.
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📸 © Jimmy Fontaine
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