"I want to be making music that people react to in the same way I do to the stuff I listened to when I was younger"
Lil Lotus has just released his debut full-length album 'ERRØR BOY' via Epitaph.
A culmination of years of passion-fueled work and music exploration, the record is one that pays homage to the sounds that Lotus grew up on as well as the sensitive and poetic person that he has become. Irresistibly catchy and brilliantly emotional, it's an album made to be the soundtrack to as many long sunset drives and blurry-eyed parties as existential solo bedroom jams.
To find out how he pieced it all together, we jumped on the phone with the man himself and found out how learning to be alone has helped him to channel the real Lotus...
How do you feel as though your vision for Lil Lotus has shifted over the last few years for us to end up where we are now?
“It feels in a lot of ways like this period has been a breath of fresh air. The thing is, I have always been making exactly what I want to make. You put shit out that’s inspired by your friends, and then you go and do collabs with them and see what happens. The thing is that I have never had an album, so that has been the biggest difference between then and now. It would always be one song than another song that you’re making, which could turn into a little EP or something. But having a whole album where you can ask, ‘Is this what Lotus is right now?’ feels pretty good. To have something cohesive is probably the biggest shift. It’s always just been as and when.”
So, where did the album come into the conversation? From that bedroom producer mindset to working on an entire cohesive piece of work, where did things change?
"That was when I first signed for Epitaph. The contract was two albums. The first of those was split up into three EPs with ‘All My Little Scars’, because I wanted to spread it out. But with that, I wasn’t working with one steady producer at any one time. All of the production is so different across those tracks. So this is where it became us going ‘We’re about to do an actual real life album.’"
So how did you set about bringing it together? How did it develop into the sound that you have now?
"I had already started working on a few of these tracks with some of my homies like Drew Fulk and Zach Jones. I would be asking people to play me stuff and show me what they had been working on with other people, and then I would say, ‘Cool, let’s make something like this then’. That’s usually how any session starts for me.
"Then someone showed John Feldmann a load of my stuff, and he said that we should do something cool together. I don’t think he was ever familiar with my previous work before I stepped foot in his studio, We went in there and wrote two songs off the top of our heads on that first day, and he just then said, ‘Oh, Travis Barker is going to come in today’. Like so casual. So that’s how Travis ending up on ‘No Getting Over This’ and ‘Don’t Fuck This Up’. The thing is, even after that, I was still trying to find our footing.
"During the second session with John, we were looking up references and stuff, and he asked me, ‘What are you actually into?’. I pulled up things like The Starting Line, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, all these bands that I loved that I had grown up on. That’s when we started riffing and building things around those particular ideas.
"I think the pace at which music is moving right now; people were ready to hear an album like this from me. I’ve always done little pop-punk songs here and there, but it felt like the right time to properly unleash the beast."
The scene surrounding you when you started Lil Lotus was very different from what it is now, which has moved so quickly. Did you ever feel like there was a point when you couldn’t indulge in this side of you just because of what was going on at the time?
“I feel as though despite everything, I was still personally releasing stuff that could fit in this world. I’ve always been putting it out there, mainly because the melodies that are involved are very much my strong suit. I had just never sat down and said, “I’m going to sit down and make something that fits together’. It was always just going over to a friend’s house and laying down a few songs, then another’s house and laying down some more songs. Everything was just so sporadic that you just did what was available and in front of you.”
So how did the character of ‘ERRØR BØY’ come to be? It feels like you’ve used this opportunity to show people who the actual Lotus is, so how did that come to be?
“I feel like I’ve never really given these things too much thought until recently. But subconsciously, I knew that I was making the album the way that I was. The thing is that I’m always in some relationship. At this point in my life, I’ve started to realise that I probably never wanted to be in any of them in the first place, and that’s why everything has always gone the way it has. At this point, I’ve started to realise that I’m okay with being alone. All these songs talk about experiences of how, ‘You’re this way, and I’m this way, and that doesn’t work’. Perhaps it’s my fault, perhaps it’s theirs, or maybe I’m just not ready to be in that position. Maybe I don’t want to be here or doing these things. But right now, I know what I want, and I know what I want to do, and I want to just be with me. That is ERRØR BØY. He is someone who has a lot of love to give but has to put himself first.”
When there’s an expectation of you always chasing something or someone, it takes a lot to be honest with yourself that all you need right now is yourself. It’s another thing to inject into your art…
“For me, in my experience, you’re expected to grow up, find somebody, buy a house, get a family, settle down. Nobody talks about actually being on your own and being okay with it. It’s such a rush to hop into something that you think is right to do, and everybody is so focused on doing that. It’s a feeling that is almost programmed into you as well. Like when I used to listen to Secondhand Serenade, and you think that’s how life is supposed to be. But I’ve got to the point in my life where I’m just trying to be happy within myself.”
There must be another thing when people expect a particular thing or feeling from you. You’re starting to feel comfortable being yourself and expressing yourself how you want, but people hope you think or write a certain way…
"It’s that mindset that helps you to make timeless music, though. That’s my goal. I want to be making music that people react to in the same way I do to the stuff I listened to when I was younger. Like, when you go, ‘Do you remember that song? Fuck!’ That’s what I want. I have songs like that, and they all remind me of different relationships, parties, or bad days. Every single one is perfect in its own way, because it meant something to me at that moment. That’s what I want my music to do."
How does it feel to be at this point in your career compared to what you wanted to achieve when you first started making music?
"It feels sick. I’m super appreciative of the progress and of everybody who is rooting for me. I also feel as though if me of right now told me of back then what I’m doing now, he would still just say, ‘Yeah, I know’. Not in a cocky way, but this has always been the goal. I wouldn’t still be doing this if I didn’t want everybody to hear this song I’ve uploaded. It’s not to show your friends you can sing. It’s all about wanting to make timeless music for the rest of your life.”