Lido Debuts His “Angel” Video And Chats With NYLON
Get to know the Norwegian electronic artist
If you’ve ever heard a song and thought it was flawless, chances are that Lido could still find a way to make it even better. The Norwegian electronic producer/songwriter/vocalist has made a name for himself by remixing tracks in ways that emphasize their hidden potential, most notably with The Life of Peder, his personalized flip of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo (which has remarkably avoided any legal ramifications, much to our delight). That’s not to say he’s incapable of impressive original work; take Chance the Rapper’s “Angels,” Banks’ “Better,” and Halsey’s Badlands, the latter of which he executive-produced, as clear examples of his creativity.
But it’s Lido’s solo projects that truly put his artistry on display, and his debut album, Everything—seemingly named after the amount of emotional input that it required of him—does just that, employing his production, vocal, and songwriting skills to transform the complex emotions of the period after a breakup into sound. What results is a clever, dizzying, and raw exploration of feelings that aren’t easily articulated but still somehow made relatable, with help in part from the likes of Halsey and Jaden Smith.
Since the beginning of November, Lido has taken the album on the road, transforming it into an immersive experience for the Everything Tour. Today, he’s giving us a taste of his live performance with the video for an acoustic version of his single “Angel,” which was shot at Paris' Saint-Eustache, a sprawling church that was built in 1532, at five in the morning. "I got to play the largest organ in France, which dates back to 1855," he says. "It was the biggest musical challenge I've overcome in my life. The performance was done in one take because the service was about to start. I was really honored to get to play my music in such a magically historic place."
Check out the video above, and get to know Lido below.
You put so much into this album, so I can imagine performing it live has been a new experience for you.
It really is. Actually, I was talking to my friend about it this morning; it's kind of one of those situations where it's better if something goes wrong, because if I play the album perfectly live, then it is almost too much emotionally. But if something goes wrong, then I sort of snap out of it for a second, and I keep my sanity. I get my focus back; I'm like, "Alright, I'm here. There are people here. I need to play the right notes and stuff." But if it goes perfectly, then I'm an absolute emotional wreck right after.
Have you been performing it the same way you did at Coachella, from front-to-back, but now with all of the songs?
Yeah, absolutely. We've been playing it front-to-back, but at Coachella, we included a few separate songs in the actual set. Now I'm saving all of the [non-album] songs for the encore, so people get the perfect album experience first, and then we have some extra fun things happening right after. And it's also a kind of extended version of the album, so I'm using a lot of parts that never made it to the album—a few lost rap verses, a few voice chords that didn't make it into interludes, extended versions of certain parts, more orchestral stuff—so it's almost like the director's cut of the album.
Going back to your earlier days as an artist, what was it about music specifically that interested you?
I think I'm one of those cases where I never really had a choice. I started out playing music before I understood what music was. I had my first real drum kit when I was two years old, and my dad is a very musical guy. He ran a choir when I was a kid. So, there was always music in the house—specifically, a lot of gospel music, which I really love. I can't really imagine existing without music anymore because I've always done it. I've never really had a plan B. I've never really wanted to do anything else but music, so it's kind of a tricky question to answer, honestly, because music is such a big part of me and has always been that.
Was the choir that your dad directed a church choir? Is that why there was a lot of gospel that you listened to growing up?
Yeah, it's sort of a complicated situation: They weren't directly a church choir, but they were playing gospel music. That was my bridge into R&B and hip-hop and soul and all of these things, because they were playing just American gospel music. There's still a lot of gospel influences in my music—that's where I get all of my chords from, that's where I get all of my drum chops from, that's a huge part of my music still.
Who are some specific artists that you can recall listening to in your childhood and teenage years that you think have influenced you?
Kanye West's The College Dropout was my introduction to hip-hop, where I realized I could use all these things that I loved and do it in a cool way—you could take soul samples and turn them into hip-hop beats. I remember loving Craig David early on. I loved Usher, Snoop Dogg, listened to a lot of OutKast. Those were artists that I remember I was fighting my parents to play in the car.
Was your friend group in your teenage years into music as well?
Oh, not at all. I grew up in a little fishing town in Norway, so I was very lonely when it came to music for a very long time. I didn't really meet anyone else who was into music until high school. All my friends were listening to very different music than me, and none of them were interested in making music themselves, so it was just me and the internet and whatever music I heard through my family that really influenced me. I think that's the reason why my music is the way that it is today. It's all the elements I loved as a kid being put together, without any rules or any compromise, because I never learned the rules. No one told me the rules. No one around me knew the rules. So it was sort of just me and whatever I wanted to do. So I'm weirdly grateful for being so lonely as a child.
You mentioned the internet being a tool for you, and that's what I love most about this generation of music makers. The internet has completely transformed music in ways that people don't always necessarily realize.
It changed mainstream in a lot of ways. Mainstream music isn't what people are being told to listen to anymore; it's what most people choose to listen to. So there’s such a broad spectrum of genres and different kinds of music that are now considered “pop music.” Back in the day, you would only have whatever was played on the radio, which all sounded exactly the same. That was pop music. Now you have so many different lanes and different sounds that are just popular because they are popular on their own. It's turning into a democracy, sort of; it's turning into real popular music, not dictated music.
What typically compels you to do a remix of a song that's out?
My weakness is potential. Whenever I see potential in anything, regardless of if it's music or in other aspects of life, I always have to explore it and see how far I can take it. Basically, I try to remix songs for the song. If I'm like, “This melody is beautiful but it's hiding in this very flat and simple production; I wish it had more flourishing and big production behind it. I wish it was given more energy,” that's my motivation. Or it could be the opposite: If it's a really powerful song in terms of lyrics, but you can't really hear the lyrics because the production is so loud and messy and all over the place, then I'll take it and just put piano behind it. A good song is a good song, regardless of what you do to it—whether or not it's with an acoustic guitar or if it's with a huge drop or whatever—and I try to see how each song can shine, basically.
It was so interesting to see the choices you made on your remix of The Life of Pablo.
The Kanye remix was one of those situations where I was like, "This is such an incredible album. There are so many cool ideas all over the place. What if I put all the ideas that I really relate to into a very short time span, and try to make them work together?"
Were you nervous about feedback at all? Kanye fans are crazy, so if it didn't go over well, they would’ve said shit about it.
Oh, a million percent, but I didn't really think much of it. I don't pay a huge amount of attention to feedback. I make music for myself. But it's always nerve-racking when you do something without the artist's permission. I'm taking the fact that I haven't been sued yet for that remix as an incredibly good sign.
How was your creative process with Everything different from how you created your previous projects?
In this case, I had a very clear vision for pretty much the entire record because there was a story line I wanted to tell, so with such a specific story line, every single song was imagined before it happened. Usually, when I make music, I leave a lot of it up to inspiration and collaboration and chance. I'm a musician first and foremost, so I like having fun with things and seeing what happens. In this case, everything was incredibly clear to me. You know how sculptors imagine their statue being inside of the rock already and they just carve out all the stuff that's in the way? That's how I was thinking about this album: This album already exists, and I just need to get all of the bullshit out of the way, basically.
So you knew who you wanted to help contribute to the album?
Oh yeah. The features were super weird. I knew that I wanted Jaden to be a very big part of the album before we became friends, and before I really knew the talent that he really possessed when it came to rap. I knew that I needed Towkio on it. I knew that I needed Vic [Mensa] on it. I knew that I needed Astrid on it. It was really clear to me before a lot of these relationships had even happened, honestly. I'm very fortunate that it all fell into place the way that I wanted it to.
You’ve mentioned that it's not so much of a breakup album as it is a post-breakup album. How did you decide for that to be the story line?
For me, that was more interesting. The reason behind the breakup, and even the relationship itself—hell, I'm young, I'm not supposed to dissect every mistake being made in a relationship. What's interesting to me, though, was all the weird stuff that happened in my head after the fact. I wasn't prepared for that. Everyone's going to warn you about relationships, but no one's gonna warn you about all of the weird stuff that happens in your head after the fact. That was the thing that I wanted to explore; I’d be really sad, but also kind of happy that I was sad. I'd be really angry, but it would feel good. And I would be lonely, but there would be so much energy in the loneliness. I had all of these really weird combinations of feelings, so I wanted to explain these weird emotions through music because I didn't know how to explain them in any other way. So I took all of these weird stages and emotions that you go through, and tried to explain them with melodies and with sounds instead of with words.
What was your process like, turning those emotions into sounds?
For me, it has a lot to do with the actual notes, the actual chords, and the actual melodies, so I spend a lot of time in front of pianos trying to find the perfect set of chords or the exact vibe in terms of sound that would explain what I'm feeling, and not try to make it too mathematical. It’s just like, “Which chord resonates with me for some reason right now?”
I read about how you created the song “You Lost Your Keys”—basically staying in a room with a piano for eight hours.
“You Lost Your Keys” was the purest part of the album. That's probably the only part that I didn't imagine being that way because I was planning writing the climax of the album, and it was impossible. I gave up, but through mumbling and giving up I realized that letting go and giving up was the answer. That's the only part of the album that happened so organically, and it was a part of the story that we had to keep it.
It's literal and metaphorical at the same time.
Exactly. It's such a meta song: I'm literally singing about the song that I'm currently writing. That's the dumb shit that I get myself into, always just overthinking everything and making everything way too complicated, it's ridiculous. But people overthink stuff, and I guess that's just another part of this story. Especially after a breakup, you overthink and you dissect every detail of yourself, of the other person, and of everything that happened, so making an album about that process is almost a part of the album itself because there's so much over thinking involved.
Was it cathartic at all to flush all of that out into the album?
Absolutely, because most of the music was made during the stages of the story. So it was definitely cathartic in a way, and even though there's not much of an ending or an answer to it, it was definitely a very important part of the process for me, getting all of these thoughts out of my head and keeping myself from going crazy in the process.
Did having other artists contribute to the album change your perspective on breakups at all? Like Jaden Smith, for example.
A million percent. It's cool that you used the word “perspective” with Jaden because that's sort of his role in the whole thing—he is my perspective on the real world. He plays my outward voice that is connected to the rest of the world, while my own voice is in my head, that's just my emotions talking. At the time we were recording, we had a lot of very fundamental conversations. He is an incredibly intelligent guy, and he was a very important perspective for me at the time. I'm super happy to have him as a close friend now as a result of that process.
A lot of artists, after their debut albums, have so much adrenaline from finishing that they're just ready to go into the second one. Are you working on new material, or did Everything take too much out of you?
To be completely honest with you, I wrote a sequel to this album. It was a lot shorter of a project, but I wrote an entire sequel, and I scrapped it because it became something I don't think ever should be released into the world. There's a fine line between making personal music and making private music. I want to always create honest and relatable music, and music that people can connect to, but it needs to be written in a way where people can still make up their own stories, and they can still put things in their own situation.
Yeah, that's understandable. We usually wrap up with trivia questions, to end on a lighter note—do you have time? I know you’re traveling.
I'm going to be honest with you: I spend like 90 percent of my time locked in a room with a computer by myself, so when someone is down to talk to me about my music, I'm here for it. I'm all in.
Good to know! So what's the first place that someone should visit when they go to Norway?
The thing about Norway that is really beautiful is the nature, so I would say to go to the fjords. Go see the Northern Lights, the beautiful mountains that we have. I don't know if there's a specific place. I would say go out to the middle of nowhere, basically.
What’s the last song you listened to?
I guess I can check that on my Spotify, can't I? The last thing I listened to was... oh yeah, this artist called Mssingno. It's a song called “XE2.” It's one of my absolute favorite songs right now, so I'm bumping to that a lot.
What’s the best movie you've seen in theaters? We could do one from this year, and the best one you’ve ever seen.
I usually don't measure stuff by whether I think it's really good, I measure it by if it inspires me to do something else. I think the most inspiring movie that I've ever seen in theaters is probably Inception. That just made me want to write 15 albums in a row. As for this year, American Honey was really, really good.
Your favorite book?
Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]. It's a French children's book that my mom read to me when I was a kid and that I read again later on in life. I realized that, basically, my entire way of thinking about everything is in that book. It's an incredibly well-written book. I'm very passionate about people and about messages—that book is the perfect way of delivering very healthy and positive ways of thinking about the world to children without being preachy about it. There are so many incredible, philosophical things that it touches on that really impacted me as a kid and later on in life, as well. I'm literally going to get a tattoo for that book because it's that important to my life.
What would you say is your fashion signature?
It's pretty hard to catch me in anything but sneakers. I'm a huge sneakerhead, so you'll usually catch me in some pretty bright, loud sneakers, regardless of whatever outfit I wear.
Finally, what's your personal mantra?
I don't know if I actually have a specific one. I'm sure I do, but I don't know if I can think of it right now. But the most important thing to me—in terms of music, at least—is that it's already there. It already exists. The idea is already there. The vision is already there. It's already existing, you just need to bring it to life. You just need to shape it. As a creative, looking at yourself as a vessel, rather than the origin of something, makes the creative process a lot easier. I guess that's a cool way of looking at life, too. Life is already here, and you're kind of just going through it. Instead of thinking that you're always struggling to create a life, you're just moving through it.