Theophilus London tells it like it is

John Seiler/Sun Star Reporter
April 30, 2013

Theophilus London performs during soundcheck at the SRC on Sunday, April 28, 2013. The concert was hosted by Concert Board and UAF Traditions. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Theophilus London performs during soundcheck at the SRC on Sunday, April 28, 2013. The concert was hosted by Concert Board and UAF Traditions. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

On the final night of Springfest, New York based hip-hop artist Theophilus London took the stage to an excited crowd of over 400 fans. London’s performance ranged from his own songs, covers and a finale that saw groups of women invited to dance on stage. After the show, I asked London questions about breaking in, performing live and what’s next for him.

The Sun Star: How’s Alaska so far?

Theophilus London: Alaska was great. I like it here. I was trying to get used to the climate, the time zone. I was in Los Angeles doing Coachella, so I told my booking agent “Look, before I go back home to finish the album, I want to do three big universities and you pick them.” She picked Alaska, she picked Minnesota and a university in LA. Now we’re here.

TSS: The name Theophilus London, where does that come form?

TL: It’s my birth given name. I’m named after my great grandfather, so I’m the second officially. Theophilus means “Lover of God” and that’s what that means.

TSS: How did you get started?

TL: I got started because I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to meet tons of sexy women and man whats the best way to do that? Should I be a basketball player, should I be a hockey player, should I be a rapper and singer. I said fuck it, I’m going to write music and I started writing music. I started finding myself and started performing and it just took off for me.

TSS: Being from Trinidad, how did the music scene of Trinidad influence your style?

TL: I didn’t really influence my style at all. I mean I love my homeland and the food is amazing and the women are sexy, man.

TSS: If Trinidad didn’t influence your style, what are some of the people you grew up idolizing or looked up to?

TLL: As a teenager I was lookin up to Morrissey. I was lookin up Jay-Z. I got into a lot of DJs early on like I-Emerge, A-Trak, like Diplo, these guys early on. Glitch mob was the first niggas on the scene and that’s where I got my waffle crisp from.

TSS: How did you get discovered?

TL: I didn’t really get discovered, I just discovered myself in my bedroom. I put out three mix tapes and the first one was called “Jam!” [sic] 2008 and it was a mix of things like Prince craftwork. All these mix of different music and I put out this other mix tape called “This Charming Mix tape”. It was like mix of Elvis Costello, London pop, flirty music, like charming music about sex.

TSS: You’ve collaborated with a lot of different people like A$AP Rocky, what were some of your favorite collaborations?

TL: Some of my favorite collaborations are Mark Ronson. Great British guy, great musician, great family, great guy. I also did a song with Busta Rhymes, like a low key song. You know, it really wasn’t my favorite. Another good colab I’ve had was “Big Spender” was a good one with Rocky. I also did one with Sam Sparro who did black and gold, he’s a sexy guy and that worked really well. Now I’m doing new stuff with Adam Pavao and that’s what the future holds.

TSS: One of the Colabs that I thought was pretty cool was with Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara. They have such a contrasting style to your style, how was it working with her?

TL: First of all were label mates and I got a Tegan and Sara album as soon as I signed to the label, Sire records in 2009. Upon signing I wanted to write an anti-love song for Valentines Day cause I hate Valentines Day. It’s the worst day to make everything serious. Everything should be toned down on Valentines Day, It should be just whiskey, wine, sex, movies, you know that type of stuff. So I made a song with Sara Quin called “Why Even Try” like, why even try to put on makeup, like why even try to be sexy, like don’t try at all. Just be cool, be cute and Sara Quin played a great roll in the song. It’s produced by Ariel and we performed it on David Letterman on Valentines Day with Sara and that was a big highlight of my career.

TSS: About a week ago you played at Coachella and débuted your song Rio, how was it performing their?

TL: Performing at Coachella honestly was too much going on. Too many bands, too much sun. I mean I’m making it sound like a horror story but it really was a lot of preparation, a lot of hoping, I’m just happy its all over. It’s just to hectic in the desert It’s a good festival, but it’s a whole big thing and you know as an artist you have to go with the rules so I’m happy its over and moving on to the next, Lollapalooza in August.

TSS: You also perform a lot overseas, what do you find different about playing overseas to an American crowed?

TL: I mean you just have to create a good vibe and really there is no difference. The only difference is I’m playing for French women or Alaskan Women. And dudes too.

TSS: I noticed you stopped the crowed and songs a couple times to try and get the crowed up and running, do you consider yourself an artist that really feeds off the crowed?

TL: Yeah, I really feed off the crowd, but half the time my eyes are closed on stage. Eighty-five percent of the time my eyes are closed tonight so I was singing and someone touched me and I almost died on stage cause I’m high in my own way on stage and someone touched me on stage and it threw me off. I feed off the crowed energy but most of all, I deliver a calm, somber, solitude to the audience that can get them hyped so I don’t have to scream so much to get them hyped and stuff. It’s the small things that come.

TSS: Is there a planned release date for your début album?

TL: I have a release date but I’m not trying to promote it right now. I have two months to finish the album and I’ve chosen to finish it in Palm Springs. I’ve been working on the album since December in Paris, two months in New York, and I think its time to finish in Palm Springs. Paris and New York are super busy, I’m always distracted, all these people trying to call me, all these emails and shit, these people to hang out with. That’s made some good music though and I’ve made some good stories about that. I now want to go out to the desert were I’m not on anyone’s time and I’m on my own time and I’m barbequing and shit in my boxers and recording next door in my house so that would be great.

TSS: Besides your album and Lollapalooza, do you have any other big plans for 2013?

TL: Yeah, I’m going to shoot a movie at the end of the year. Somebody wrote a script with me in mind and it’s a brilliant script from a brilliant writer/director. I was over at her house last week in LA and you know the script was great. It’s about a story in New York, its about music, and I fall in love with this girl that gets raped and I have a blind son, but that’s all I can say.

TSS: Do you have any final words for say for UAF?

TL: Yeah, I’m totally down with Alaska and let’s come back out here and chill.

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