A conversation with Louis The Child
Louis The Child, a Chicago-based electronic music duo comprised of Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren, is a dominant force in today’s EDM arena. Since the explosion of their trademark single, “It’s Strange,” the young producers have been on a steady trajectory to the top of the modern music world, delivering an eclectic sound that has put them in the conversation with major acts like Flume and ODESZA. The Daily was able to converse with these rising stars at their show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple, and what I thought would be a ten-minute, live-action questionnaire turned out to be a forty-minute, symbiotic and complementary conversation about music and the responsibilities of the influential.
Growing up, I was exposed to the foundations of electronic music production: I had friends who installed DAWs (i.e. Logic Pro & Pro Tools), bought MIDI controllers and began experimenting with music made within a computer. When asked about their origins, the members of Louis The Child revealed they essentially followed this same track.
“We both kinda just picked up different types of music and creation on our own,” Kennett said. “We were just kids messing around.”
Kennett went on to explain that as time went on, so improved his understanding and appreciation for music.
“I had a bunch of friends in jazz band who kinda taught me the basics of [music] theory and what chord inversions were.”
Reflecting on this appreciation, Kennett also revealed what he soon came to value most as a young musician, claiming that “drums and piano are the main instruments that go into production,” and “having a good understanding of rhythm and melody was definitely a helpful thing to add on to the interest of getting the DAW [and the] added knowledge of theory.”
From just these few details about the group’s origins, the roots of the Louis The Child’s uniquely comprehensive sound are evident — the members’ solid foundation and early appreciation for music made way for sounds that are not necessarily characteristic of a single genre, but rather a marriage of influences united on the simple grounds of good music.
Regarding influences, the two producers shared what non-electronic artists have supremely impacted them and contributed most to their wide-ranging sound. For Kennett, indie music was a major influence, while Hauldren, coming from a classic rock background, said, “Jimi Hendrix is my fucking dude.”
Altogether, the two acknowledged that their broad influences are rock and hip hop, citing Kanye West and Kid Cudi as major contributors to their sound. In the end, though, the producers explained that they connected over electronic music when they first met (at a Madeon concert), which explains why EDM is the driving force behind their music.
Cultivating the interest in early electronic music was not easy for both members of Louis The Child. While Kennett had been into experimental EDM like London dubstep early on, Hauldren was not so intrigued.
“When I first heard electronic music, I was like, ‘Fuck this. Fuck these people. They don’t do anything. They sit on a laptop, they press a button, and [the music] happens for them.”
But eventually, Hauldren decided that as a lover of music, he owed it to himself and the art to “actually listen” to electronic music, and he resonated strongly with early EDM artists like Deadmau5 and Skrillex. Soon after, he’d join Kennett to work toward their shared dream of making it in the music world.
I, too, was strongly opposed to early EDM for the same reasons as Hauldren, and it was not until I heard Louis The Child’s remix of Oh Wonder’s “Body Gold” that I realized the potential in electronic music, a potential revealed to me by the group’s unique subordination of experimental electricity (think: obnoxious dubstep screeches) to actual music. The jazzy chords and tight, nuanced rhythms in this track — products of the members’ aforementioned solid musical foundation — are seriously special, and any disgruntled, anti-EDM music reactionary owes it to themselves to listen, as did Hauldren and as did I. Louis The Child’s projects gravitate toward the melodic and engaging, and as Kennett stated, “that’s where [the rest of] electronic music is going.”
Louis The Child aims to take this step toward well-rounded musicality even further, hinting at a 2018 album release that will “blend all genres into one album,” in Kennett’s words. Motivated by the producers’ desire to play truly live sets, with breakdowns and arrangements that vary from studio recordings, this album will hopefully enable Louis The Child to include more musicianship into their performances. As Hauldren frankly put it: “My expectation for a Louis The Child show is way more actual instrumentation.”
The members of Louis The Child obviously care deeply about their music, putting six hours of work into production every day before any semblance of success, but they also care deeply about their fans. The group has an incredible back-and-forth with their fan base on Twitter, acknowledging fans’ tweets more than most artists today. When asked how important this artist-to-fan relationship is, the producers had some compelling insight.
“I think it’s the most important thing,” Kennett said. “If you really care about what you’re doing, and you really care about the people who care about what you’re doing, then they should be the most important people to you.”
Hauldren continued, stating: “They’re the ones who let you do this. They’re the ones who listen. They’re the ones who buy tickets to the shows. They’re the ones who let us do what we love, and if you don’t treat them with respect and show them that you care, then you’re not gonna be able to keep doing this.”
This unique level of compassion manifests in Louis The Child’s larger, charity-based projects that cater to fans and non-fans alike. On Friday, November 24, Louis The Child is hosting their first annual Friendsgiving, a charity event in their hometown of Chicago that partners with the Chicago Greater Food Depository and SocialWorks. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to these foundations, and items like canned goods, gloves and jackets will be accepted for entry into special EDM-based pop ups.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” said Hauldren. “If we have the ability to get over 4,000 people into a room because we do music, why not also help other people who are not as fortunate?”
Given that Louis The Child is heralded for creating positive music (see: “Love is Alive” and “The Weekend”), it is fitting that the members seek to extrapolate this impact to less-fortunate communities.
To wrap up the interview, I asked Kennett and Hauldren a classic icebreaker: If you were stranded on an island, what album, book and movie would you choose to bring?
Hauldren’s choices were Jimi Hendrix’s Axys: Bold As Love, “an encyclopedia or something interesting that had tons of shit in it” and “Hot Rod.” Freddy decided on Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon 1 (which he claimed was superior to Kanye’s Graduation), some sort of meditation book, and “Midnight in Paris.”
Just when I thought the interview had come to a close, Kennett asked, “Do you know Robert Glasper?” As Robert Glasper is one of my favorite artists and neo-soul is my favorite genre, this question kicked off an entirely new conversation about great music. I played “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.),” a classic Robert Glasper tune from his album, Black Radio, and to my surprise, Hauldren and Kennett began rapping Childish Gambino’s “Bonfire” over the beat. The tracks mixed perfectly. The two then introduced me to awesome artists like Tom Misch and Hiatus Kaiyote, and I played them a band called Moonchild as we snapped and hummed the various groovy rhythms and melodies.
After the interview, a few things were certain: These guys are the real deal, and they really like music. To add even more to their musical credibility, their live show is fantastically energetic; when Robby first hops on top of the DJ table, one can’t help but emulate his lanky and contagious dance moves. They create an environment that is as musically rich as their origins and as positive as their intentions — the future of electronic music is in good hands with Louis The Child at the wheel.