Bizarre Ride

Shlohmo Is Blowing Up Before Our Eyes

Comments (0)


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 6:37 AM
click to enlarge CREDIT: SUSBOY
  • Credit: Susboy

[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]

Slightly sick and bone-weary, Shlohmo staggers past airport security and baggage claim to hop into his ride back to his apartment near Fairfax. After sleeping in two dozen beds over the last month, the 23-year-old electronic producer's plane has just returned from his first national tour as a solo headliner. His friends are offering a victory spliff.

The celebration is earned. Few musicians have had as good a run as Shlohmo over the last two years. In the last month alone, the West L.A.-raised art school dropout unleashed the rapturously received Laid Out EP and "Bo Peep (Do U Right)," a collaboration with Def Jam R&B lothario Jeremih. The latter received "Best New Track" honors from Pitchfork, 300,000 SoundCloud plays in its first days of release and unofficial distinction as the best song The Weeknd never made.

"The American scene's changed over the last few years. Rap and R&B were always closely tied, but people are becoming more open to mixing them with electronic sounds," says Shlohmo, born Henry Laufer. Lanky, dark-haired and inclined toward oversized shirts and snapback hats, he looks more pro skater than a producer with sex-packet songs. "I remember playing [debut] Bad Vibes shit three years ago and people threw bottles at me. Now they're yelling for those tracks."

Bad Vibes was the breakthrough. Released on the Friends of Friends label, Shlohmo's first official full-length transcended his beat scene background. If the broth of his production boasted the Low End Theory's warped hybrid of underground hip-hop and IDM, Bad Vibes was a barbiturate-spiked bouillabaisse. The wounds of a fresh break-up bled with the codeine crawl of DJ Screw, computer-filtered guitars, found sounds and D'Angelo. Summer jams gone sour.

See also: FoF's Leeor Brown Seeks to Capitalize on Music-Industry Chaos

"It was an experiment in learning to write songs and make space in the music," Shlohmo recalls. "I recorded pennies dropping on my desk for percussion. I kicked my desk to sound like a kick drum. I wanted to make music out of nothing. I really like pop and wanted to see if I could make pop songs out of pennies."

The closest he came was a remix. Obsessed with Drake and The Weeknd's "Crew Love," he reworked it on a whim. It went viral in February 2012 after The Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye posted it on his blog and commissioned it as an official remix. Other reimaginings of songs from the LOL Boys, Burial and Jeremih became melancholy anthems for parties of one. Meanwhile, his remix of Soulja Boy's "Pretty Boy Swag" could make even a 40-year-old backpack-rap stalwart smile.

"I don't do my remixes to generate hype for myself," Shlohmo says, exhaling. "That's why I usually choose older songs. I'm not the dude remixing Lana Del Rey. Respect to those who are, but I could give a flying fuck."

Related Content


Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • OK GO @ The Troubadour
    OK GO performed to a sold out Troubadour on Tuesday night. Their fourth studio album, Hungry Ghosts, is out soon. DC Myles Hendrik opened the night. All photos by Timothy Norris.
  • Nico Vega's Album Release Party
    The Sunset Strip burned up the music scene as Nico Vega launched their Lead to Light record release bash Monday night at The Roxy. Dark Waves played an amazing debut performance, while Queen Caveat broke open the the jammed packed club. Nico Vegas frontwoman Aja Volkman danced in the crowd, brought the party on stage, and painted dots on fans foreheads. Good times as always on the Strip! All photos by Michele McManmon.
  • Air Guitar Championship Semifinals @ The Troubadour
    The Southwest Semifinals of the US Air Guitar Championship were held last Saturday at the historic Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. The event determined who would compete as regional representatives at the 2014 National Finals in Kansas City on August 9th. The colorful contestants (many of whom opted for elaborate codpieces) were judged by comedians Kristen Schaal and the Sklar Brothers. The top score was awarded to crowd-surfing guitarist Kingslayer, the mother of a teenage son who also competed wearing little more than an American flag bathing suit. All photos by Gustavo Turner.