Born and thriving in Los Angeles, Lostboycrow is a free-spirited soul telling his story through song. Rare Candy recently sat down with Lostboycrow (LBC) in LA -- over shawarma and churro waffles -- to talk about making albums in the modern music world and how the river runs.
Rare Candy: Why did you choose a three part debut as opposed to one longer release?
Lostboycrow: Going into this year, right as I was deciding to make the album, I listened to Blonde by Frank Ocean so much. That album is kind of what did it for me. I’ve always wanted to do an album. I think a lot of artists probably feel that way too, because you can get to know someone from an album. As a listener, I get to know an artist, and I get to know myself. I thought, “Wow I don’t listen to albums anymore,” mostly because people aren’t making them. So I knew I wanted to make an album, and then when I heard Blonde I was like, “Enough is enough, I have to make an album. This is such a lost art.” So, I decided to do a three part album, three Legends, so that I could treat each release as an EP with singles and videos.
Most everything I’ve been able to do I’ve been able to do a lot because of Spotify which is a playlist world, a singles world, a streaming world. I want to be conscious of that. I love putting out singles because they can have an individual life of their own on Spotify. I’m still putting out quite a few singles; I’m just tying them all together with the project -- the narrative, as well as lyrically and visually. Essentially, I’m just releasing singles like always except now there’s a story, now there’s something for people to actually cling onto to get to know me and get to know themselves, and see my progression as a musician and a singer rather than just: “Oh cool, another single!," "Oh this is a different direction.”
RC: You’re constantly releasing new music and new singles. What is the planning process for that like? Especially with the Legends, were the songs written together, or did things connect as you went along? A noticeable connection is how in Traveler: the First Legend you threw in the lyric, “spin the globe” on the title track, and the single for the Second Legend is called “Spin the Globe.”
LBC: Thank you for noticing! It was a little of both. I’ve been able to write and record so much music that I have everything planned out, so by the time you’re hearing a song I’ve had it done for a year or so. I had some songs done a while ago, like early 2016, and then, when I decided to make the album, I realized this was a whole project. As I was able to finish these songs and color them in, I knew exactly where I was going and could make the lyrical connections. That was something that I would want as a listener, and that was something I wanted to give as an artist. With the singles, I wanted to make everything cohesive so that I could do everything to make people see that this is a whole journey, a whole progression. It’s not just me releasing singles. The next Legend, the second one, is a bigger jump musically. It’s little weirder, a little more hip hop influenced at times. Lyrically, it’s a lot more nostalgic.
RC: Since the Legends are three pieces of one story, do you think each chapter reflects a different part of you or a different part of your life?
LBC: Absolutely. Originally, I wasn’t quite sure. I didn’t know how much I wanted to base it off of my personal life, so each one is kind of different. It’s partly a story I created, but a lot of it is coming from real places. Each chapter, each Legend, is me exploring a different part of something I’ve learned. I keep an open mind, and I’ve waited to finish the third Legend until closer to when I’ll put it out, even though I have a lot of the songs. I don’t want to know where it’s all going yet.
Each Legend has a caption underneath. The first one was “split the road, spin the globe.” The second one is “somewhere with no one,” and the third one is “the river runs free.” I keep saying that lyrically, and I’ll keep referencing the river. Also, each Legend has a symbol with it. The First Legend has trees, wind, and fire. The Second Legend has mountains, representing the tough part of the journey, looking backwards and forwards, and finding perspective. The Third Legend has the river. The river runs downstream, and you learn from it. You learn from where you’ve been, what’s coming at you, and then the river takes you somewhere. It’s very fluid, but it also has a purpose, and it’s moving somewhere specific.
I decided to make the First Legend about a lot of what I went through right before and right after I moved down to LA. It’s full of excitement. I reference Romeo and Juliet a lot, because that is what it reminded me of, especially the Danes and DiCaprio version, because it was very, “let’s take on the world for no reason except for the one we make.” It’s this us against the world theme, while also asking, “Who am I?” There is a lot of blind pursuit in love and music. Looking at “Real Name,” “Verona,” and “Traveler,” the First Legend is very much in love with the idea of things and people. The Second Legend is very introspective and retrospective and romanticizes the past. It’s a little sad, but it’s also continuing on the adventure, it’s almost the cynical sort of nostalgic, romanticizing people and the past.
The Third Legend represents what I feel I’ve learned the most this year, which is that everything is free and fluid, you don’t own people, you can’t be married to people or ideas or things, and you have to keep an open mind. It’s very experimental with sounds and has some new producers that I teamed up with.
Rare Candy: The way you live your life is very much geared towards what you love. You’re very free spirited, but you’re also guided by your passions. How have you been able to maintain this laid-back yet focused mindset?
LBC: Observing my own struggles, small victories, and friendships, the biggest thing I’ve learned this year, especially with the idea of “the river runs free,” is that everything I’ve been interested or passionate about in my life hasn’t been in vain, it’s revealed itself slowly. It’s been interesting to see how I can do music, but I still incorporate so many pieces of what I love. I think that when you are honest with yourself and follow what the universe gives you and gifts you, whether it be a talent or an interest or both, hopefully the universe will be good to you in return. The universe will help you use those gifts. I think I have to believe that just because that’s what I’ve seen in my own life.
RC: Knowing you personally, I wanted to ask about a side of you that doesn’t always come through in interviews: your love for theater and film.
LBC: Theater and film are so powerful. I know for me, it inspires me more than music. I can’t even put into words why, but there’s something very powerful about someone making a play or a film. You can capture things in such a way. It’s like real life, active, shoved in your face, a really good opportunity to actually see and understand. I’m a visual learner, so for me it’s huge to be able to watch a scene unfold.
Another thing that you can do with theater and film is teach. If I go out on the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura and hold a sign that says NO DAPL and shout and get angry, that’s great, people should do that, but no one is going to learn anything. If I make a film that has some of those characters and some of those issues in it, but that’s not what the film is about, that’s just real life. People are going to be touched by that, and they’re going to learn. Even more so than from a song, because a song can be really preachy too. So much of acting and film is not saying anything; it has a chance to be even more powerful.
A lot of my inspiration for songs does come from theater, but it’s really coming from human experience which you see all the time. However, in a film you can watch it again and again, you can see it up close, and you can really read someone’s facial expression. I am moved by films more than anything, and I think my next album after this one will be pretty heavily influenced by film, as well as Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and Kendrick Lamar.
RC: Going back to your new album, how do you think the process of making Traveler: The First Legend has been different from your past work?
LBC: A lot of the songs on Traveler were gathered from the past year and a half. “Nobody Knows” was written almost three years ago. The songs all ended up working together, and I think that’s also why I felt like tying them together lyrically and visually. I feel like that’s how music is made nowadays, because everything is a session with somebody new. I’ve been fortunate enough to have three people, sometimes four, that I work and vibe with. So every Lostboycrow song is going to be with one or multiple of those people, and I love that.
It’s intentional. We live in a world of singles, and there are even people who aren’t just dropping singles, they’re dropping albums, a collection of songs with a myriad of producers over years. I’ve done that, but the lost art is me and Real Miilk, Dylan William, of flor, Maro, and my buddy Jimmy going into a studio, a physical space, for two weeks and taking all the sketches that we have, ideas that I have, and coloring them in in the same place, the same environment, an environment that affects the sounds you’re making. To intentionally, kind of quickly, force ourselves to make an album is something I get excited about. I’ve tried to bring people together as much as I can. A few of the songs on the next couple of Legends are with Maro and Real Miilk and me. I love that. I did one with Zach Grace, of flor and Dylan William, of flor, and that was really awesome, kind of a cross-pollination of my favorite few people. That’s the lost art that I get really excited about.
RC: It sounds like you’ve developed a great system and a great environment for yourself.
LBC: Yeah totally. I know people that write every day, or make a goal to write every day. I don’t feel that at all. I’ll still probably write more songs this year than I’ve ever written because I have my people. I feel that freedom to just gather an idea from something, anything, and then, when it comes time, with the help of others, I know I’ll have something to go off of, and we’ll be able to make a song and color it in.
RC: You get asked about your move to LA pretty frequently, but it sounds like you’re truly at home here and that it’s opened doors for you.
LBC: I’m living all my dreams, truly. I got to become who I always was when I moved down here. I cannot describe to you how much it feels like that, how perfect it is. What I try to do, what I try to stress with songs like “Real Name” or “Spin the Globe” is exactly that. All I can speak about is my experience. I know I have a very easy life right now, compared to a lot of people, like I can go to Whole Foods and get a snack. That’s insane. I feel like physically moving here allowed me to create that space and that new home, with no pretext, no pretense. Lostboycrow was birthed anew, but I am who I always was, and I had those experiences that all those songs are about. I feel like I lived a totally different life. I hope people feel empowered to do the same, whether it’s a physical journey or just a mental one, to not being afraid to start over and find your people wherever they may be. Those people will help cultivate your passions, and that’s how you’ll know that they’re your people and vice versa. That’s how Lostboycrow started: it was Dylan and I in this house with our friends. That’s what cultivated me, and I feel so blessed to be able to live whatever fairytale reality I’m living right now. It’s real, and it’s so cool.
Flor Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/florsounds/
Maro’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/maromakesmusic