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Exclusive Q&A: A Conversation With Theophilus London About Love, Life and Antarctica

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsWhen you look at the hip-hop scene at it stands now, with artists like OFWGKTA and LMFAO on the rise, you can feel the genre shifting a bit both in terms of music and artistic vision. Taking a more wild and eclectic approach to not only music but fashion sense is becoming a running trend. With that in mind, the up-and-coming rapper Theophilus London is riding the wave with his unique blend of influences, that read off like something from an indie rock band, and his eye-catching sense of style. This has led to widespread success with his debut release Timez Are Weird These Days getting significant buzz and landing high-profile performances like at this past year’s Cannes Film Festival. Taking some time out of his busy tour schedule, this budding rap star sat down to chat with us about topics ranging from his Tumblr to listening to actress Milla Jovovich cover Prince.

OS: In the past, you’ve voiced displeasure about mainstream rap. Do you feel it’s something you still try to stay away from?

TL: In a sense of [it] being played out, maybe. But, there’s a lot of mainstream rap.

OS: How would you describe the difference between your approach and a regular hip hop artist?

TL: I work off of references. I idolize producers and try to sit down and work with producers on brand new sound. We talk about favorite artists first and foremost and develop a brand new sound. I really can’t say I’m different from other rappers because I’m not in the studio with them or in their creative process.

OS: You announced on Tumblr today that you got Michael Jackson to DJ some of your shows. How did you find him?

TL: I found him in New Orleans. He was hanging out a window. I asked him if he wanted to tour and he said yes. Really glad he came out to tour with us.

OS: You’ve said you have a goal to write a song in every country you go to and that there were thirteen of them so far. Where is that list at now? Are you a lot closer to that goal?

TL: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been around the world this year. I’ve been writing songs everywhere I go. I haven’t kept a markdown of which places I wrote them, but a lot of them have the cities in the names of the songs.

OS: Ever think about recording a song in Antarctica?

TL: Antarctica? I don’t know any producers or any studios out there. But, if I ever get down there, I’ll see if I can.

OS: One of the biggest shows you had this year was the Cannes Film Festival. Is the crowd there as snobby as everybody thinks?

TL: No, those people are cool, man. That’s one of the best times I’ve had in my life. That’s where I first met Kanye out there. We became friends. So we’ve been there a few times this year.

OS: Did you get a chance to see any of the films at the festival?

TL: No, we didn’t go to any films, but we did hang out with Milla Jovovich. She sang some songs for us. One of her assistants played piano and she did some Prince covers. She, like, bought us room service. I don’t think we’re going to work together. But it was good meeting her.

OS: You collaborate with a lot of indie girl artists like Sara Quinn and Holly Miranda. Do you have one dream girl in particular you’d like to collaborate with?

TL: Yeah, there are a few. I never have just one person, man. I like to keep it spiritually open. It just doesn’t happen like that. It has to happen spiritually.

OS: Dan Carey mixed and produced your last album. Did his past experiences with CSS and MIA blend into the recording at all or was he totally in line with where you wanted to go with it?

TL: I knew what I wanted. He knew what was up. So, we pretty much did our own. We didn’t really discuss any other artists.

OS: You’ve become quite well known, not only for your music, but your sense of style. Do you feel like your sense of style stems from your music?

TL: Yeah, totally. I think music comes with style.

OS: So then, what you wear at shows, do you feel it’s very important part to your live performance?

TL: Very important. It just makes you into [a performer]. I dunno. (laughs) It just means a lot to you, as a performer, because you’re representing yourself on stage.

OS: You just got back from a long stint in Europe and are currently on tour in the US with Friendly Fires. Is it strange to be back in America after spending all that time in Europe?

TL: Yeah, very strange, man, because I was playing 10,000 packed seat rooms. Now, I’m back to playing like 500 rooms now. So it’s kind of weird and different. But, I just gotta get used to it.

OS: Are there any places abroad that you feel that artists should definitely tour that they might not know about?

TL: Paris was fun.

OS: Coming from such a wide and varied musical background, what is your usual approach was for putting together a song with so many influences? Do you start with a beat or do you start with a riff?

TL: Yeah, we start right on the guitar or the piano. We usually come up with the melody first and get it started like that.

OS: What do you feel is the overall message of your music?

TL: Just fantasy and modern love from my point of view. Like Wine and Chocolates, it’s all from my point of view.

You can check out Theophilus London’s official web site/Tumblr for info of how to pick up Timez Are Weird These Days and just general awesomeness.