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[courtesy Louis Logic] Louis Logic Interview
Author: Adam Bernard


It had been a while since Louis Logic wanted to write a hip-hop album, and when he decided it was time to create one again, he had some specific goals in mind.

Louis explains he wanted to make a "classy, personal, record that showed what I've learned over the past seven years." The result is Look on the Blight Side, which was released earlier this month on Fake Four.

This week RapReviews caught up with Louis to find out more about Look on the Blight Side, including what it was like getting so personal on the album. Louis also discussed finding new connections with his audience, his disappointment in the Demigodz, and the time he was offered a deal with Def Jux.


Adam Bernard: You said a number of years ago that you were done rapping. Was this just a Jay Z-like ploy to prepare for a comeback?

Louis Logic: You know what, I don't really remember saying that. I probably did. I'm not questioning it. I mean, I went through a pretty serious crisis of faith. I ended up feeling like there were little to no hip-hop artists, particularly rappers, who cared about the things that I did, musically speaking. I tried to befriend a few folks. Ever since I left the Demigodz group and I started experimenting more, and using rock influences in my records, and what have you, I've felt really lonely. I haven't really had a crew, necessarily. A lot of those guys stuck together, and they all look out for each other, but I've been an odd man out for a very long time, and in more ways than one, not just that I was like a lone wolf, but I was a bit of an oddball, incorporating things into my records that people don't usually put into rap records, and caring about things that rappers don't care about, and I was really feeling like there wasn't much point in me continuing to make rap records. JJ (Brown) and I had parted ways. I lost the genius producer that I had, on amicable terms, but we decided after ten years of making records, and getting as far as we did, and then just watching things kind of plateau, it became a little too painful, particularly for JJ, to have to listen to people at shows every night at these 50-150 person venues saying, "Man, you guys are so good! Why aren't you in an arena?" On good nights, when we'd have 150 people, or 200 people, at the show, they would come up to us and apologize for their town. We couldn't even enjoy our small victories. A lot of other people who started making records around the time that I did, and many who started after me, just kinda rocketed past us to success, and I think it just became a little too painful for JJ because he really believed that I was like the best dude, and I felt the same about his production, so eventually we had to say enough is enough, and it's time to try other things. When that happened I just didn't really feel like there was a place for me in this. I had been learning how to play piano, and to sing, and I think I interviewed with you back during that time period about how I was transitioning into becoming like a singer-songwriter and rapper.

AB: Yes, I remember that.

LL: I was gonna do like a band thing that was like mostly indie pop-ish, but had some hip-hop influence, but it was just me, not like a full band, one of those fake band bands, like LCD Soundsystem, or something. I tried a few times to network with other rap guys that I thought were like me. I hung out with Tonedeff a little bit, who is also a really fantastic singer, and can play some piano, but what I learned is a lot of the guys who have experimented with playing instruments, with learning to sing, and things like that, they weren't trained in any way, and they didn't have any desire to be. In fact, many of them tout their ignorance of music theory, and classical training, and instrumentation, reading music, etc., as some sort of badge of honor, like, "Look what I can do without even knowing anything," and that bothered me. I guess just from the years of being in green rooms at shared space venues where there's like a rock room, and then a hip-hop room going on somewhere else, and having rock band guys being like, "You're playing here tonight, what do you do?" I'd be like, "Well, I rap." They would just give me that look like oh, so you're not a real musician is what you mean. And sound guys looking down on you as a rapper because they just assume you're going to get up there and cuff the mic, and not know how to use your equipment. Things like this really sent me over the edge in pursuit of becoming a proper musician, and the further I drifted in that direction the more lonely I felt, and eventually I just thought, well, warm up to it, you're gonna have to say goodbye to your rap career and try your hand at making indie pop. Then I met Ceschi, and that changed everything.

AB: So meeting Ceschi was the push that got you back into writing hip-hop music?

LL: Yeah, and actually in the beginning I didn't have any intention of doing that. The initial deal that I got offered on Fake Four, after Ceschi and I spent the better part of a year together on tour, and I showed him several songs off of my Kiss Her Stupid indie project, he offered me a Fake Four deal for that record. We were seeking to have Gregory Pepper produce it, because at the time I didn't know enough about fleshing songs out fully, and production technique, but I knew enough to write solid chord arrangements, and melodic lines that would work well with them, harmonic arrangements vocally, and very light instrumentation accompaniment, but mostly in MIDI, because at the time I hadn't really thought about being a producer. We asked Gregory Pepper to listen to one song from the project to see whether or not he was interested in producing it. Ceschi said, and this was the exact discussion we had, "If Gregory Pepper says he'll take over producing your record, the Kiss Her Stupid album, I want to put this out on Fake Four." I was so thrilled because I never thought anybody would take me seriously as a singer-songwriter, and an indie pop guy. It's such a hard thing to do, to go from being a rap guy to being something else. People don't take you seriously. Even now, I've made a whole album that's like a singer-songwriter rapper album, and I'm reading stuff, people writing about the record, and they're saying, "He has this kind of singing thing." It's ridiculous. I wrote stuff that is like a Beatles record, or something. It's like very very complex layered harmonic choral arrangements that I actually learned how to sing over the course of seven years. I feel like I can stand next to almost any indie pop artist as a signer now, but still, because people think of me as a rapper, they try to say that my singing is "kind of singing-ish." Do I have to be like an opera singer to get people to admit I learned how to sing?

AB: As an artist you definitely have to deal with critics on a daily basis. Have you ever actually been hurt by someone's words?

LL: Of course. But what I realized is, I learned this from, of all people, Fiona Apple, she said she doesn't read reviews at all because the truth of the matter is if you're going to listen to the positive things that people say about you, you should really be giving the same kind of gravity to the negative things that they say, otherwise you're jut being unrealistic and selective about it. If you considered your compliments as valid, and valuable, then you need to consider your criticisms the same way, so I've learned to accept the idea that people are going to speak negatively about my records. I don't like it. Obviously when I make a record I painstakingly craft it in the hopes that every person who hears it is going to pick up on that and go, "Wow, that's incredible," but just because I do that doesn't mean that's what's gonna happen. I usually end up having to fend off a little adrenaline rush after I read something negative about me, fan or critic. Then I'm like alright, calm down. If you don't want to see stuff like that, if you can't handle taking it in, then don't release your music publicly, just make records and drive around in your car listening to them. You don't have to share your music with the world, especially if you're not interested in hearing what they have to say about it.

AB: Your new album that you're sharing with the world is Look on the Blight Side. Why did you decide to go with that song as the title of the album?

LL: I actually came up with the album title before I wrote the song of the same name, and then I was working on the arrangement for that song and I was like, I'm gonna write like a Murphy's Law type song, everything that can go wrong is going to go wrong for this particular arrangement, and that's perfect for the album title.

AB: You mentioned earlier the loneliness that you felt when you were moving away from hip-hop, and into the sing-songwriter genre, but I think if someone were to have a regular conversation with you they'd define you as a happy person.

LL: I am a happy person!

AB: It almost sounds as though, when you listen to "Look on the Blight Side," you're kinda suffering from a five minute bout of massive depression.

LL: {laughs} Well, it's not like I haven't experienced that kind of thing before. I think the reason that I'm not a depressed person is that I can make stuff like that, and it gives me an outlet for those feelings. On top of that, you can say that that song is like me compacting everything that's ever gone wrong in my life into five minutes. So sure, a lot of that stuff in that song is genuine, it actually happened to me, and it's personal stuff, but it didn't happen over the course of like the year that I wrote this record in.

AB: It wasn't just the worst week in the world.

LL: No, not at all, man. That's a lifetime of ups and downs, and I just decided to extract all the ups out of that particular five minutes.

AB: Is it tough to perform that song?

LL: No, I love it. I love it. It's so weird. I spent ten-plus years making comedy rap records. Motherfuckers don't want to be happy, man. I don't understand it, but they don't want to be happy. They like miserable, sad music, and I noticed that when I started playing the new songs from the record live. The reaction I was getting from the crowds was so much more intense than when I would give my most spirited, and clever, and funny performances as a comedy rapper. In fact, I've played that song for a crowd that had never heard it before, and by the time the second pass of the chorus came they were singing the chorus. That's never happened to me before, and I've been writing catchy choruses for the better part of my career. It's one of the things that I am better at, if I'm good at anything in this rap thing. So yeah, it's been really wild watching people react to these new songs. I'm getting reactions unlike anything that I've ever had.

AB: The album opens with "A Day Late And A Dollar Short." Why did you want to lead things off with that song?

LL: I didn't think that anything would be more attention grabbing than me dying at the beginning of the album, which is essentially what that song is about. When I wrote it I intended it to be my thoughts after becoming famous posthumously, because I spent my living career partying, and chasing women, and not making records, and being super selfish about my artistic pursuits, and confusing my audience by entering my rap career as a braggadocios drunk, and exiting it as a guy who wanted to convince you that the clown as a soul.

AB: That record, and the whole album, is pretty personal.

LL: It really is. I've never done that before. This is the first time.

AB: What was the most difficult thing for you to reveal?

LL: Parts of "Look on the Blight Side," parts of "A Day Late And A Dollar Short," because I'm facing up to certain truths about my career. I haven't kicked it yet, I'm still here, I'm still alive, and I have a really strange level of success. When people discuss it with me who don't know anything about indie rap, the way that I usually phrase it to them is that I have a certain kind of cult fame where there are times I get spotted by people on the street, and I've had the privilege of touring all over the world, and I've saved up enough tour money to buy a house from making records, in Brooklyn, no less. I've done a lot of really amazing things in my music career, but it's not the kind of career that's allowed me to buy something for someone in my family, or never go back to a job again. (After) every few years of touring non-stop I end up going back and getting a day job for a little while, or if I do something dumb with my house investment-wise, sometimes I have to dig myself out by touring AND having a job. Or if I decide to get married (note: Louis is currently engaged), I don't have the kind of success where I can just be like, no worries, I'll tour for four months and then I'll have $30,000 to throw a wedding. I have a very strange purgatory level of success, and I've had it for a long time, and that's not something that's super easy to admit, and I talk about that in that song. A lot of it is about how I've struggled in the pursuit of greater success over the course of my career, and made a lot of decisions that were boyish. I don't make my decisions, for my art anyway, with business in mind.

AB: If you could go back and change one decision, what would it be?

LL: I would have signed to Def Jux when El-P offered me a deal after Celph (Titled) beat Cage up. I was in a bar in Brooklyn, I think this is the first time ever told this story to a journalist. I was in a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it's no longer in existence, called Red & Black, on North 6th, and I got tapped on the shoulder, and it was Camu Tao, who I didn't really know, but I kinda recognized him. I didn't know his music, but I knew of him. I was like wait, is this that dude? Recently Celph had beaten Cage up, so as soon as I realized it was him I was like, oh boy. He was a really big guy, so I was like, great, I'm gonna get beat up in a bar, this is gonna suck. He asked me what my involvement was in that whole thing, and I was like I don't know if you've been paying attention to the situation, but I am the least involved member out of my whole crew of friends in this. I don't give a shit about this stuff, man. I drink, and make records, and have cheap sex. I'm not that guy. I'm not a fist fighter. I suck at fighting, and I don't care whether or not people know it. I'm not a fuckin boxer, I'm a musician.

El-P was with him and noticed that he was... picking on me, I guess is the simplest way to say it. I thought I was just gonna end up fighting the guy. I was like alright, it's not my first fist fight, I guess I'm gonna get into a fist fight. El-P came over (to Camu) and was like, "Hey man, what are you doing?" He was like, "Go sit down. Leave him alone." I was like, oh, OK, that was weird. Then El-P sat down next to me and was like, "What's going on man, how are you?"

I was like, "I'm OK, what was that all about?"

"He's just mad about that whole shit."

"Well, I don't have anything to do with it."

"I know that. So what's going on, what are you up to musically?"

"I put out an album (Cinematic) that I actually shopped to you before I put it out, years ago."

"I remember. I told you that I was interested in the record, but you didn't want to wait, and you would have to wait a least a year before you could have released it on Def Jux."

"OK, yeah, fine. I didn't want to wait a year. I was exited to get the record out. It was my first album."

"Yeah, actually, I was watching. You did well. I pulled your (Sound)scan numbers. I'm impressed. You did pretty well for a guy who didn't have that much behind him in the way of money and label resources. I was really impressed with how the record did. I just want to know, what are you gonna do with your next album?"

"What do you mean?"

"Where are you going to put it out?"

"Why are you asking me?"

"Because I'm interested in putting it out."

"What?"

"Are you interested in putting out your next album with me?"

"Of course I'm interested in that! Who the fuck would say no to that, but don't you think that would be kind of weird? Your whole crew of friends hates my crew of friends. Don't you think that they'd be really annoyed? Imagine sticking me in a tour van with Camu, or Cage. Don't you think that's kind of a strange idea?"

"Well, I think that you should make decisions based on what's smart for you business-wise, but I had a feeling you that you were gonna say something like that."

So I ended up telling him that I thought it was a bad idea.

He was like, "I knew you were gonna say that, but I really wanted to see where your head was at, because I'm interested."

I was like, "I can't do it. I'm sorry. I want to do it, and I'm actually really mad at Celph, thinking about how this is affecting me and my career." I didn't ask to beat that guy up. I didn't ask Celph to do it. Have I had some bad moments with Cage? Sure, he's not exactly notorious for being a really friendly guy. He had been really rude to me before, but I was like whatever, it doesn't matter, he's not MY friend, so what do I care if he's rude to me?

In the end, if there is anything I could change I would have said yes to it, and just toughed it out through the period where fans and old friends were like, "You're a traitor," and I would have been on a home more fitting for my sense of experimentation, and clearly more fitting for somebody who was hoping for greater success.

AB: And now, ironically, you're not part of the crew you chose to stick with that day.

LL: No, and most of those guys don't talk to me, and they make fun of me behind my back, and tell people nasty things about me, and they call me a faggot, and stuff, which I hate. I don't hate being accused of being gay, I hate the word faggot. Yeah, the guys that I stuck by, a lot of them kind of turned on me, and that's what they say about me now. I know that, and it's fine. I have to live with the decisions that I made. It's not that awesome that the people that I tried to stick by make fun of me, and my clothes, and me learning to play piano, and sing, and that my pants fit too tight, and say that I'm gay. It's pretty un-awesome, but I think if those guys did a little growing up they would realize that I just care a lot about records, and music, and I wanted to be more than just a guy who raps on beats. It was as simple as that.



Check out Louis Logic @LouisDorley and get "Look on the Blight Side" from Amazon!
Follow Adam @AdamsWorldBlog and follow the site @RapReviews.

Originally posted: November 26th, 2013
Source: RapReviews.com

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