We landed the interview at the last minute. I knew it would be big, as these are home-town boys (Chicago), recent grads of New Trier High School, on a trajectory that most in the music industry only dream about.
Theirs is a fairytale story. The kind that musicians secretly believe can happen but know never will. Ironically, it's the kind of story that
should happen in the music business if your music catches the ear of an audience who loves it and rushes to tell their friends... Unfortunately it's not common because we swim in a veritable tsunami of new music where even the best gets buried. Fact #1: It's never been easier for artists to get their music out to the world (internet). Fact #2: But because of fact #1 it's never been more difficult to get your music heard (competition). IF the stars align and your music finds an audience - with a bit of luck and a lot of viral - the story might have a very happy ending. Such is the case with Louis the Child.
Our interview was at 1:15 in the Lolla press tent which is located at the extreme south end of the fest (read: far). When I got the text that we landed an interview "in 15 minutes", I was a mile north wrapping up an interview with X Ambassador's keyboardist Casey Harris at their hotel. I packed up and ran in 95 degree heat to that press tent. It's what you do when artists give you a time slot for a direct chat. It's bigger than a backstage pass (with other VIP's hoping to get a glimpse or photo op). Face to face, one on one with the artists is what you hope for. Louis the Child at their hometown fest: you run to that. I met my interview partner Laura Hine (Editor, NS Magazine) in the Lolla press tent, out of breath and sweaty. We got set up and waited.
As a tastemaker and playlist curator, I know the music of Louis the Child and have watched many videos of them on stage. But I'd never seen their live show and it was one of my top picks for Sunday -- I wanted to experience their show first-hand. I've spent the summer listening to my high school & college interns buzz about their music, and even more about the boys. This was intriguing to me; this duo is more than the silhouetted DJ up on stage behind their equipment. To the fan, these are real guys like them. I looked forward to meeting the boys and asking them some "home town" questions. Everyone would be at their stage the next day; the social scene of the weekend. We waited for a few minutes as their publicist apologized -- they'd been granted another last minute interview which was squeezed in before us. They were in high demand to the hungry press.
I don't know why I expected two slick, affected, pompous EDM punks to take their good old time and swagger over to us after a blitzkrieg of interviews.... after all, isn't that what skyrocketing rockstars do? And the answer is: actually, NO.
Freddy and Robby came rushing over to us, apologizing for being a few minutes late, humbly paying attention and catering to us as we did a quick soundcheck and introduction of who we are and why we wanted to meet up with them. The juxtaposition of their cut off jeans, oversized t-shirts, and baseball caps vs. their millions of YouTube views and extensive summer festival plays all over the country - took me a minute to process. But the minute they started talking I very quickly felt like I was talking to my own boys when they were that age. They are super cool (and I can say this cuz' I'm a mom) they are super nice boys :)
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is something that most parents know little about, and if they know, they probably don't get. DJ's up on stage with computers spinning songs (often others' songs) and laying beats around them. They essentially can take any song and turn it into a dance song. Just as parents of past generations didn't really get rock and roll, disco or punk, it's a generational thing and when you're part of it, it's good. And it's more than just the music, it's the scene that goes with it: the vibe, the look, the dress, the dance, the people -- the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. Every music generation has owned one, and to the outsider looking in, it's very obvious: it's a community.
I like a lot of EDM. I love the DJ's, the beats, the rhythm, the mash ups, the mood of it all. I am not an authentic part of this community as I'm simply not of age. It's young, it's loud, it's crowded, it's over-stimulation, I don't know the dance move
s, I don't look the part. And that's ok to me. But as a music insider observing "from the outside" amidst the kids in fest-wear, floral headbands, glitter tattoos, every style of Keds, singing every verse, knowing exactly when the beat will drop, every arm overhead reaching forward in unison along with the music... was a fun community to watch. I recognized that scene from the 70s when I was their age. We were different and the music was very different; we laid on our backs on a blanket on the 50 yd line of the football stadium, gazing at the stars, classic rock booming from the stage, we loved our bands, we loved that community. We shared in a different way sans cell phone or Periscope or Instagram. There was no contact with our parents, no messages from friends, no selfies, no video. I thought a lot about that as kids surrounded me at Louis the Child's entire set at Lolla that day. I was invited in and I took it all in.
Friday July 29th - Press Tent, Lollapalooza
Val: So, we're here with Louis the Child, you guys are playing when and where?
Robby: We're playing Sunday at the Pepsi stage at 4 oclock
Val: I want to get to what you guys might be feeling now, here, at your hometown fest... I'm very curious that you are not playing at the Perry's Dance Stage. I'm actually excited you're not. I think you'll get a lot of "accidental traffic" as people who don't know your music walk by your stage?
Yeah, we're excited to be on the Pepsi Stage -- we feel that the vibe there is a lot more central to, you know, our style and what we're trying to do in this project. Perry's stage may be a lot bigger with crazier screens and stuff but I think the vibe is the most important thing to give the people.
Freddy: Not all EDM has to be at Perry's stage. Electronic music doesn't have to be clumped into the same category, like you could have, you know, pop with electronic music, indie electronic music, or rap electronic music, or just electronic music that goes at Perry's...you know it can fit into a lot of categories.
Val: I totally agree. That's why as a tastemaker I try to encourage adults to try some electronic music even if it's a genre they think they won't like. There are so many different vibes...
Val: Well, and the funny thing is, most of the time when the biggest headliners are down at the huge Samsung stage at the end of the day -the entire festival crowd ends up down there.. This year I have a feeling that the whole festival is gonna end up at YOUR stage because everyone knows you here!
Robby: (laughing) yeah, I hope so. That would be crazy.
Freddy: Weird, there's got to be like 8 years of New Trier kids who are gonna show up.
Robby: (laughing) a lot, yeah
Val: I think it might be the first time that Perry's dance stage is actually empty
LTC: (laughing) We'll see.
Laura: So, when you guys were like in 8th grade, and came here for the first time, did you ever think that someday you would play at Lollapalooza, did that ever occur to you?
Freddy: That was the goal!
Freddy: That was the goal, I mean, I've been going to Lolla since 4th grade. My parents took me cuz under 10 you can get in for free-
Val: Ok, so you had really cool parents to take you to Lollapalooza
Freddy: Yeah, until I was probably 13 they still said I was under 10, so I still got in for free!!
Laura: Oh no!
Val: We won't tell! You weren't shaving yet -ha - but you're shaving now!-
Freddy: (laughing and touching stubble) right, right-
Yeah, shaving's important... I'm an adult -ha
Val: So you guys probably aren't even old enough to get into half of your shows, is that true? That happens with a lot of young artists!
Robby: Yeah, it's wild --a fair amount of them we can't even get into, but you know, they let us in because we're performing, and it's nice.
Freddy: It used to be harder-
'cause we started doing this when we were 14 and 15, so it was definitely tougher to get into those shows... like, a club or bar.
Val: Oh totally, the over-21 clubs, that would be a challenge when you're 15 -ha. So, I have another question. What beds did you sleep in last night: your hometown beds, or are you downtown in a VIP hotel somewhere? lol
Robby: (sarcastically) Uh yeah, we were up in a penthouse (laughing)
Freddy: (sarcastically) What's the difference? (between a penthouse and home?)
Val: Aww! That's a great shout-out to mom!
Laura: (laughing) Yay!
Robby: (sarcastically) ... up in the penthouse of Trump Tower... I'm joking, I'm joking!!
Freddy: (sarcastically) you know, hangin' with Donald Trump and Obama
Robby: (laughing) no, no, cut that part out!
Val: Don't worry, we can edit all this, but uh-
Val: Well, you probably have to get "inside your head" a little bit before your big debut, so I'm sure just sleeping where it's most comfortable is the best..
ell Freddie lives-
Freddy: I live downtown
Robby: -in the city now. I slept in my, you know, childhood bed last night (laughs)
Freddy: (smirking) little race-car bed
Robby: yeah, yeah actually it's a little choo choo train. It's only like 6ft long.
Freddy: Is it like Thomas, or is it one of those other trains?
Robby: (quietly) It's Thomas
Val: Wait, Robby, how tall are you?
Robby: Uh, i'm 6'4''.
Val: Yeah, I figured -- my oldest son is 6'5'', so I know tall. Any pre-show rituals or anything like that?
Freddy: We do this (holds out fist) Scooby?
Robby: (connects hand) Doo. It's just a little-
Freddy: Every time.
Val: Is it doo or dude?
Robby: (smiles) or dude!
Freddy: Yeah, Scooby Dude
Robby: Scooby Dude
Freddy: a new side-- other name
Val: Yeah, don't change it. Whatever you've been doing has been working, so don't mess with it!
Robby: (laughs) yeah. We don't have any crazy, crazy rituals though.
Val: We can't take anymore of your time, but we just wanted to give you a really huge hometown hug especially from us because we represent the families that are behind you-- not just the kids, so go kill it on stage, you guys!
Val: One last thing: a
ny shout-outs to anybody?
shout out to mom!
LTC: (Freddy with thumbs up) hi mom!