Walking by Louis the Child’s set at Coachella, it was damn near impossible to ignore their sonically enticing soundscape and enchanting visuals. Blossoming five years ago, the production duo, made up of Robert Hauldren and Frederic Kennett, have since found their niche and created their own lane, catering not only to electronic and pop fans but open-minded music lovers in general.
The two met at a Madeon concert at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago. During a time when not too many people were making their type of music, Hauldren (a freshman in high school) recalls Kennett (an eighth grader) reaching out via Facebook and suggesting that the two link up due to their common interests. It was on day one of working together that they decided to forge a new project, which soon led to their first show as LTC at a local community house basement.
Fast-forward to 2018: Hauldren and Kennett have performed sold-out shows across the world, with multiple singles on the Hot Dance/Electronic song charts. They recently unleashed their new EP, Kids at Play, which recalls the simpler times of being literally a kid in a playground. The project’s lead single, “Better Not” with Wafia, currently has more than 40 million streams on Spotify alone. We caught up with Louis the Child ahead of their shows at the Shrine to discuss the vision behind their latest EP and more...
L.A. WEEKLY: Where do you fit in the realm of EDM, R&B and hip-hop?
FREDERIC KENNETT: We’ve definitely been influenced by a lot more than just electronic music in our lifetimes. We mix a lot of different genres together. We fit in a gray area between hip-hop, electronic, indie, pop and jazz, too.
You’re from Chicago — how does that play into your life and career?
FK: I definitely think Lollapalooza had a big impact on my life and what my interests were as a kid. I went for the first time in 2007 when I was probably 9, and brought home a little crash cymbal from Kidzapalooza. After that, I wanted to get a drum set. First I got little white buckets, like the ones you see people playing on the street, and set up a little drum kit in my garage. I forced my parents later to get me a drum kit, and really dug deep into music after that. Being from Chicago and seeing the artists that come through Chicago really turned me into who I am.
How does the dynamic work between you?
ROBERT HAULDREN: I’ve always been a lot more live-oriented, and put more energy and time into the live show. Freddy has always been a lot more production-oriented. We both do a bunch in both aspects, but we know our strengths within our relationship.
Who has the final say?
FK: We do [laughs].
How important is it to come to L.A. as an up-and-coming artist?
FK: It’s definitely very important for any up-and-coming artist. Just the West Coast in general has a great fan base, who are very interested in the music and get really energetic when they care about something. To not come through and try to start building a fan base on the West Coast would be missing out.
RH: Some people feel like they have to go out to L.A. to “make it in the industry,” but you really don’t have to go out there. We were able to build up a decent name for ourselves just on the internet. Once things started picking up finally, we were like, "All right, there’s a lot of opportunities for us in L.A., we should go out there and pursue those opps." Then it made sense. Some people have this almost twisted perspective of "I need to go to L.A. to make it," but you can build an amazing following from anywhere in the world. When the time’s right and you’re ready to take that next step, there’s a lot of great things happening in L.A.
FK: Yep, that’s the best advice Robbie’s ever said.
You recently dropped your Kids at Play EP. What was the creative process and how long did it take you?
FK: Two of the songs were being worked on for a year or so, but the rest of the songs were made in five to six months. “Better Not” was done really fast, within a week. “Breaking News” wasn’t.
RH: The song that we did with Elohim called “LOVE,” we made that probably a month before the EP even came out. We added it on last second, ’cause we were like, “Whoa, this song we just did with El is amazing, we need to put this out.” The whole concept for Kids at Play really came together naturally. Before starting, we didn’t set out like, “It’s going to be called this, and it’s going to have this theme.” It kind of just fell into place where the song “Interstellar” is treading through this little playground, creating the kids playing on the playground sample. Then we made “Space Jam” a week later, and decided to throw that sample on the end, too.
FK: We had two kids samples. It relates just to kids at times, and makes you feel like a kid on a playground.
RH: It’s nice that it came together real naturally. Nothing felt too forced with it.
“Better Now” is such a vibe. Can you talk about your exact state of mind in creating the record?
RH: We were actually talking about this the other day on the bus. This was one of those songs where the energy in the room, everyone could just feel like, “Whoa, this is something really special, something really cool.” We got together with Wafia and this amazing writer, Wrabel. It may have started off with just that little drumline...
FK: The melody puts people in the mood to write a song like that, with the chord progression.
RH: We all just felt this really positive energy coming from the production that Freddy was building out. We wanted it to feel happy, feel good, give you a warm feeling and match the production that was being built. The song just came together super fast. At the end of the day, we all were dancing around to it and texting each other like, “Oh my God, this song is so fun! I love this song so much.” It’s real special when those moments happen. Everyone can feel that it’s something we’re all proud of.
I know artists tend to have their own personal favorites on the project that aren’t singles. What records mean most to you?
FK: I really love the song “LOVE” with Elohim. I was really excited for people to hear the song “Ohhh Baby,” because it’s just a production ear-candy song. People are wanting that from us, because we’ve been putting out a bunch of more song-y songs.
RH: I love “Save Me From Myself” with NoMBe & Big Gigantic a lot, because we haven’t really had a song with guitar in any of our songs from the past. We’ve been wanting to do a song with Big Gigantic for a really long time. It was so cool to have Dom play sax on that. And we’re huge fans of NoMBe. That one just felt like a real special one.
“Shake Something” featuring Joey Purp is a bop. Talk about working with him, and Chicago artists in general.
RH: We first linked up with another Chicago rapper named Towkio a few years ago, and ended up working with him a little bit. He’s really tight with Joey, Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper. We met some of the other people in the whole Save Money crew and got exposed to all the rap that was starting to come up in Chicago. We really loved Joey’s voice and what he was rapping about, and just what he was putting out. His style felt like something refreshing to the rap world.
FK: He’s also just such a cool guy. I love hanging with him. You say he’s awesome, and he is.
RH: We do care about other Chicago artists, and we want to make music with them. We want to help support other people in our town, especially people who are really talented and deserve to have their music heard. We had a couple days with Joey in L.A. and made a couple songs with him. That one definitely stood out as the one from those few days. He came out on tour with us last year as well. Joey’s just the man, and we love working with people from Chicago.
What’s been your most memorable session thus far?
RH: When we hung with Skrillex for the first time and got to work with him. Just made some things for fun and great creative, that was really cool. It was cool to see how his process is similar to ours, and see what he’s doing and how he works. He’s always been a huge idol of ours, someone that we look up to. Being in the room with him and feeling worthy to be in the room with him was a cool feeling.
FK: I’d agree with that. That’s probably our most memorable session.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
FK: Don’t do what people tell you to do. Listen to people around you when they give you advice but follow your heart and your dreams, and what’s going to make you happy at the end of the day. Remind yourself to feel lucky and grateful for what you have around you. Use it to your benefit and try to be happy. Make everyone around you happy.
RH: Just that you can achieve these crazy goals. Every one of your idols, any person who’s reached these high points of “success,” started off as just a normal person with a dream wanting to accomplish something. We just started off as two kids who wanted to make music for fun. We kept working at it and kept trying to push it, and it’s led to us accomplishing some crazy things. Everyone out there is just a normal person with a dream or a goal. If you want to go out and do something, go do it. Make it happen.
What is your take on the music industry?
FK: There’s so many different sides to every single industry. My take on our side is we’re loving it. Things are great. It’s hard to speak on the industry as a whole.
RH: I guess one thing people should always remember with the music industry is the music comes first. It’s the music industry, the music business. The word music comes first every time. The music and the art behind it is always most important.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
FK: Just want to keep making more things people can connect with, scream at the top of their lungs and feel like they’re alive to. More of those moments. We definitely want to have a few really cool albums ahead of us. Crazier tours with more insane visuals. Cooler theatrics and fun things at the shows.
RH: Just keep pushing what we’re doing to the max, really. See where it all leads us.
How important is social media for your career?
FK: Social media has been the most important thing for our career, whether that was SoundCloud, Instagram or Facebook. Then finding ways to link them all together so that you’re plugged to each of them. But definitely trying to get people to follow for free downloads. “Like our Facebook page to download remixes” — that was a method we used for a long time. From when we had zero followers to probably when we had 50,000 likes on Facebook. Our manager used that method to get people more interested in what we were doing.
RH: Just in general, Freddy and I have grown up in this age of social media. Kids from our generation are so used to knowing so much about everyone, and about publicly displaying themselves. It’s something they look for in an artist now. It’s an exciting thing for people to know more about an artist, know more about who they are as people and not just what they read in an occasional article. They can see what their favorite artists are doing every day and really get a feel for their personality and tastes. People like seeing more than just the surface.
FK: Social media is very important to build a platform to release the art you’re releasing so that you have people out there that will see it when you post something. It’s important as a professional artist.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
FK: Probably be doing some other form of art, movies or computer science. Something to do with editing. I love fun things, so I’d make some sort of fun software for people to use.
FK: Vince Staples and Kid Cudi.
RH: Bon Iver, and Jungle for sure.
What’s been the greatest memory so far on the Dear Sense tour?
FK: The coolest thing so far was this girl who gave us this book. She was wearing one of Robbie’s toughest finds that he’s ever found in a store.
RH: She had this Lollapalooza ’92 shirt that I wear a bunch, that I found at this thrift shop in Japan. She had the exact same USA jacket that I also found somewhere in Japan. The two rarest things I’ve ever found, she happened to have them in her mom’s closet and wore them to the show. She reached out to a bunch of fans and had them write about their experiences with us in this book. She printed out a bunch of photos and left a bunch of awesome notes for us. That’s definitely the coolest thing we’ve ever got from a fan, this book of memories. This book of people’s different connections with us, and her connection with us. That’s the coolest thing ever. And to see people react to the new music. That’s the coolest thing every night, knowing that we have this project out and that people know these songs. Because some songs we’ve been playing throughout the summer, people don’t react to it because they don’t know it. But now that they all know it, everyone’s dancing around and singing all the words. Just to see that even though it’s only been out for just over a month and people know all the words to it, it’s crazy.
Talk about partnering with PLUS 1. What inspires you to give back to your community?
FK: Last year, we partnered with them for just our Chicago show to donate $1 from every ticket sold to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. This year, we were like, “Let’s try to kick it up a notch and donate $1 from every ticket for the entire tour.” So rather than raising $4,500 this year, we’re looking to probably raise hopefully over $50,000. It’s something we feel is very important and can help a lot of people in Chicago. It gives people food and shelter. It’s just very important for us to give back. Especially with the influence that we have, we want to use it in a positive way.
What can we expect from the sold-out L.A. shows at the Shrine?
FK: I bet this show will be the best it can be at that point. It’s the final show. Expect the top of the top, the best we can do.
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RH: I think there’s going to be a certain level of excitement from the fans, too. Both shows are already sold out, so there’s a lot of anticipation and people are going to be really excited. Anytime there’s shows that’ve been sold out for a while, the energy and enthusiasm is on another level.
Is there anything else you want us to know?
FK: We always just want people to know that we really care about what we do. We really do this because we love it and we have a passion for it. We want to make people happy and make them smile, just give them something they can be a part of and believe in. We’re in this for the art of it, and for the good times. We’re just trying to have fun.
Louis the Child perform with Daya, R.Lum.R and Wafia at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Shrine Auditorium.