Since dropping out of art school in 2010 to pursue music full-time, Shlohmo has become an L.A. electronic-music rising star. Born Henry Laufer and raised in the Fairfax District, the lanky 21-year-old producer — a regular performer at beat mecca Low End Theory — combines house and hip-hop with his own hazy ambient style. His first full-length, Bad Vibes, was well-reviewed by Pitchfork and put him on the international map. We talked to him ahead of his first European tour; his new EP, Vacation, is out today.
On your new EP, did you consciously attempt to depart from the ambient sounds on Bad Vibes?
Shlohmo: I think I've been getting back into the electronic sound more, whereas before I was trying to get as far away from that as possible. Bad Vibes is definitely more organic, and this stuff is more danceable and more electronic.
What's your musical background?
My dad's a producer and songwriter, and he has a studio in the back, so there were always musicians coming through the house. He's worked with Fiona Apple and Charlotte Hatherley and plays the Beatles tribute at the Bowl every summer. So I learned piano and guitar at a pretty young age and started making beats that me and my friends would rap over. I was making stuff under the name Henry From Outerspace in my first year of college. I did that for a year, then changed the name to Shlohmo the next summer. Then I made Shlohmoshun and Shlo-Fi and dropped out after the next year.
What effect did Low End Theory have on your sound?
It showed me what was possible, seeing people like Daedelus and Flying Lotus. Everybody was combining the effects of dance music with hip-hop. I had always been interested in ambient music, but I was really introduced to different kinds of textures through people like Matthewdavid.
You have a pretty big fan base in Europe. Are you excited about the tour?
I'm nervous, but I'm just a supernervous cat. I get shook about leaving my house, let alone the country. It's going to be nerve-racking and tiring, but I'm excited about everything. They caught on to it before a lot of people in the States, so I feel like I owe everybody out there.