Lido is one of the most unpredictable and exciting producers around right now. As well as churning out his own expansive, experimental solo work which culminated in last year's brilliant Everything, he's worked with a myriad of artists, each different to the next. From Chance The Rapper to Halsey, he's traversed genre lanes at a rapid pace and gathered a fan base that's happy to come with him on this unpredictable ride.
One of greatest friends and collaborators is Aussie producer Alison Wonderland. The pair are currently touring together as part of her Scarehouse Project which heads to Auckland and Sydney this weekend. As Lido told us ahead of the tour, he's been working with Wonderland on her forthcoming sophomore record and he took us through what a day in the studio with those two looks like. In one word, it sounds "passionate".
We also spoke about using less words to convey more emotion and what's on the horizon for the ever-working producer.
Do you get bored of your own sets quickly?
Yeah. The people around me are usually quite frustrated like halfway through a tour when I've basically changed everything we started with. All my prayers go out to them because I can be a hassle like that. I definitely do get bored and I do like switching it up and challenging myself on stage.
So often when artists are on tour they are locked into a setlist so it must be nice for you to change it up and mould it to the audience?
Exactly. I have the huge advantage of being alone on stage so I'm the only one that gets in trouble if I make a bad decision and nobody can stop me from making bad decisions. I sort of get to play around however I want and I love it like that.
I love being on the Lido journey, as a fan it's always so unpredictable. You had the album that was expansive and emotional and then the THEY. collab was something totally different. Where did that collab come from?
I've written a few songs with them and this was on our third night in the studio. We were like, you know, let's try do something a bit different. All of us are huge fans of New Jack Swing. I'd been listening to a lot of Bobby Brown lately so I wanted to make something that feels exactly like that. We were slowly seeing more and more people in the R&B community and the pop community gravitating towards New Jack Swing but they were all sampling. They were tryna put the 2017 spin on it and have a taste of it. We were like, "what would happen if we tried to write a song as close to it as what would've come out in 1991?" That was the experiment and the song came out really cool and we were like, "man, we have this incredible song but we know for sure no other artist is going to pick this song up because this is a song from 1991." It's not gonna fit on a Lido album, it's not gonna fit on a THEY. album so we had to just put it out otherwise it would've sat on a hard drive. That's been my mentality the whole time which is probably why my journey is so confusing. If I like it then let's just run with it. I tend to be inspired by a lot of different things so as much as I try to make a plan for everything there's always cool little accidents that I don't want to not have see the light of day.
You've built a fan base that's really responsive to that as well. They'd rather you take a chance than not put anything out at all. Is it nice to know you can take experiments in real time?
It's such a blessing. I've been thinking about it these last few days and I am so blessed to have the fanbase that I have because they are open-minded, they are interested, they are curious and they trust me. They go along with all these weird things that I come up with and entertain me at least with it. I think so many artists beat themselves into a pocket that they can't get out of where they have a certain sound and a certain aesthetic. I can literally do what I want and I know my fans will pay attention and be open to it. That's something that I think is pretty rare and I feel very fortunate to have.
The artists you work with share the same opinion on that. For example, Chance The Rapper jumps around genres very swiftly. Do you choose people to collaborate with that you know you'll have the freedom to create whatever feels right?
Absolutely. I've been fortunate to work with some incredible people. Again, I think I generally gravitate to open-minded people who like experimenting and who are down to try something that might be a little bit weird and a little bit different or might bring something fresh to the scene. I've been extremely fortunate to work with people like that. I've also been very fortunate to gain the trust from those people.
That leads us really nicely into your work with Alison Wonderland which again is a left turn musically for you. It must be nice to play her own massive festival down here in Australia?
Absolutely. I'm stoked. She's one of my best friends. She's been like family to me since very early on. The very first time I came to Australia she picked me up from the airport in Sydney. I did not know her at all. We went straight into the studio and wrote a song. She's had my back through so many different times in my life. She's such an interesting artist and such a passionate and curious artist. I've been blessed to work with her a lot on her album which is sounding amazing. She's tight.
You guys both seem to share the same philosophy on making music in that you pour your heart and soul into it. What's a day of collaboration between the two of you look like?
It usually starts with a three or four hour conversation about life. There's definitely a lot of conversation and a lot of hanging out and chilling. We're both very sensitive and emotional people so whenever we do get to hang out and see each other we have a lot to talk about. After a few hours of that we start some crazy stuff and it turns into a lot of...we are both incredibly passionate people so when things are clicking we're both jumping on the couch and all over the place but we do also butt heads a lot because we are very different people. We come from very different backgrounds.
We get very frustrated with each other, we are yelling. It can get intense in the studio but we've both learnt that because of that we usually come up with stuff that's a really interesting mix of both of us and stuff that is at least intended to push the envelope and broaden people's horizons. She has that motivation behind her music like I do. Even though we do fight and we do butt heads, we tend to make some really cool stuff together.
Something that I think is very cool about the both of you is even though you can get quite deep, you both pull back lyrically and let the music say everything. Is that something you had to work at - learning to hold things back and let the music say it?
I think a lot of my favourite artists throughout time have had that ability and have chosen to be picky with the words that they say because they realise the power within letting people shape their own images to the music. You put too many words to it and you're forcing the way people think of your music. I've had conversation with people who have had completely different emotions triggered by songs that I've written than what was my intention. That's a really beautiful thing. I want people to discover it themselves and feel ownership in the music and feel personal more so than just hearing gossip in my life.
I'd much rather have people have a personal experiences within themselves with the music. I'm an enormous James Blake fan, for example, and he has that as well even though it's vocal driven. I still get to interpret his lyrics and I still get to create my own stories. Even with D'Angelo, who I've been listening to a lot lately, you can fill in the gaps yourself. You can listen if you want to or you can tune out if you want to and create your own thing. I really like that. As much as it is tempting to pour in details about how mad you are or how in love you are, it's always more powerful to me with less words and more emotion from the music.
What's on the horizon for you? Have you got an album in your sites or are you taking it one step at a time?
I'm just experimenting right now. I'm collaborating with a lot of people right now. More like executive production and creative direction and stuff like that. I've been involved with artists on more of a macro level. I'm working with people I have a lot of faith in and really cool, completely unknown artists. And a few bigger artists as well. That's been my focus this year while I'm experimenting and trying to figure out what the next unpredictable step is going to be in the Lido story. There's a lot in the incubator right now. I'm trying to let in marinate and see what it turns into.
Lido will play the Scarehouse Project in Auckland and Sydney this weekend alongside Alison Wonderland, A$AP Ferg, Lunice and more. Details here.
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