story / Koko Ntuen. photography / Jonathan Mannion.
Theophilus London, needs no coaching. The honey-voiced artist, with an affinity for Hasidic top hats, masterfully crafted the fulllength album Timez Are Weird These Days. It’s destined to be “hearted” by many. London has already conjured quite a buzz; The masses picked up on his underground popularity stemming from both This Charming Mixtape (2009), inspired by every hipster’s favorite band – The Smiths, and his widely acclaimed EP, Lovers Holiday. MTV featured London as their PUSH Artist and gave him stage time in NYC. London also grabbed the attention of hip hop’s love-him-or-hate-him prince of hip-hop Kanye West.
West has been noted as one of London’s inspirations, and much like West, who included the vocals of indie artist Bon Iver on the smash recording “Monster,” London is no stranger to enlisting the vocal stylings of indie artists. On Timez Are Weird These Days London rhymes with label mate Sara Quinn of Tegan and Sara on the soothing track, “Why Even Try.” Quite simply, Theophilus London is a presence as unheard of as his name. He comfortably dons his persona as effortlessly as his rhymes vacillate between rugged and sumptuous sensuality. This sensuality has not gone unnoticed by his female fan base. In a recent stage performance of “Flying Overseas,” London assuredly saunters over to a girl on stage. With one twirl she is immediately whisked into the London storm and remains entranced through the performance.
London is not only well known for his music, he has also gained a signature for original style, which has brought him collaborative opportunities with the brands Cole Haan and Gucci. London has expressed his interest in creating limited edition lines for the luxury brands Lanvin and Chanel, (slightly mirroring West who interned with Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and the Gap).
Expect to be ultimately wooed by London’s debut LP. If the music doesn’t sway you, his remarkable swagger definitely will. Ladygunn spent a lovely afternoon chatting on the phone with Theophilounus London while periodically putting down the phone and muffling screams through a pillow. (Yes, he is really freaking hot, even over the phone). He charmed us with his love of music and discussed his crushes.
What does your name mean and how long has it been in your family?
My name means Love of God or you know also God of Love. It could be the God of all Love in general, or it could just be Love of God. The name came from my great-grandfather.
Your name is so cool.
I love my name and I want to live up to this name and make it an amazing name and a brand. I want people to learn how to pronounce my name very strongly. I want it to be like Michael Jordan’s name, as much as a name as his is. I’m working on that right now.
When people ask you to describe your sound, how do you describe it?
I say go get a mix tape or go get my EP.
What are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to Waka Flocka. I just got Janet Jackson’s first record from the 80s, that’s pretty good shit.
How do you approach a project when you collaborate?
Well you know you got to work with different personalities, sometimes it’s hard. I learn about myself a lot when I collaborate with other people, because it’s not like I’m sheltered or just in my own thoughts. It’s my thoughts with your thoughts mixed with other people’s thoughts, and like more ideas. But you know, when you collaborate there are always different elements, and I learn about myself, about other people that I’m working with. It’s cool man, I don’t collab too much, you know. I’m not really into the formal collaborating that often, but when I do it it’s very special to me and like I do it for a purpose. I never collab for like to get somebody’s audience or shit like that, man. I always do it ‘cause it’s got to be worth it to the music. Any other collab I’ve
done so far has been genuine to that, so I’m sticking by that.
Who would you collaborate with in the future if you could? Living or dead?
Definitely Pharrell, I’m looking forward to working with him, also Albert Einstein. He’s a smart motherfucker.
What was the premise for the song and the video, “Why Even Try?”
Ah, the song really came from like an argument I had with one chick once and I was like ‘Man, why am I even trying to fucking argue?’ about like, you know, living up to my name and the people who want to see my music out. You know, I can’t be in a bad mood when I’m performing for them. It’s not their fault that I just had this argument with someone, you know, I always gotta be like happy and just performing the songs the way they want to hear it, the way they downloaded it illegally or bought it, you know. So that’s what I was thinking about when I was writing “Why Even Try?” like a relationship between someone, sometimes shit happens. And the video is just like, I wanted to show people kind of a like fake view of my life, but you know, my life’s probably not like that, but I always wanted to kind of live that type of life. It was fun to have that paparazzi chase me that shit
I think it’s hilarious. (Laughs).
Well how does it feel to be getting more famous? Can you tell the difference?
Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely one of the upsides of why I make music. Sometimes it weirds me out. When I started getting stopped at airports I thought shit was serious. People use to stop me on trains, you know, and that was great and I have huge billboards in New York City and like billboards all over the train stations. So people are recognizing my image and they really like the music. Every time I go to festivals like far away from my home people are singing the lyrics, and that kinda weirds me out to see people singing my lyrics back to me, and singing and dancing and going crazy. I have a bigger responsibility and I can accept that people might like it or not like it. I’m passed that part.
Have you heard any feedback from Kat Stacks about “GirlsGirls $”
No, I wish?
Would you want her to be in any of your music videos?
No. Not really.
What was the hardest song for you to do on Lovers Holiday?
There were two, maybe two, but the easiest song was “Girls Girls $.” The hardest songs were “Strange Love” and “Why Even Try?” My friend Tess was living next door to the studio where I was recording and she just hear me singing “Strange Love” like 90 times.
Is it harder putting out something more independently or with more backing? Like, This Charming Mix Tape vs. Lovers Holiday?
That’s a good question. That’s actually the best question I have ever been asked so far. You know it was definitely
an early time when the pot boils over so it was exciting putting that together with two people, having to do own
art, finish the songs in a week, setting deadlines for myself no real professional help. It was like a hot piece of pot that everyone wants to smoke. Lovers Holiday was a more polished thing, finally entering music the right way and not putting out over saturated music on the Internet. I wanna fucking win Grammies and make regatones and shit.
How supportive is your family? Are they really excited about your career?
They are very excited and very supportive. They are the most supportive people in my life right now. I never want
to be far away from my family. That’s how my dad is. That’s how I’m going to be with my kids.
Do you have any crushes right now on people or places?
I had a crush on Lindsey Lohan.
Did anything ever happen with that?
What about places?
France. I just played on a boat with thousands of people and no one would speak to me in English but would sing all my songs in English.
Do you have any plans for acting in the future?
I direct all my videos. I can act in those videos, and I am definitely thinking directing will come to the future. Acting scouts come to my shows, but I’m not trying to hear that shit. I’m concentrating on my music right now.
What are you most excited about this upcoming fall?
I’m most excited about touring for this record. I’m looking forward to the shoe I’m putting out with Cole Haan. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting my fans all across the seas, and like thanking them personally for like supporting my shit.
Do you consider yourself to be a heartthrob since you started blowing up and your image started being like placed everywhere and people started talking more and more about you? Do you get a lot of fans that are just like ‘I love you!’ and doing freaky stuff like trying to meet you?
It’s crazy, they can talk to me, like I’m really accessible online, so they tell me how much they love me and anything they want to do in their dirty minds, how they show my shit to their moms and dads, how their families are digging it, like mad personal shit.
++The soundtrack for “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” drops this week with Theophilus’ “Neighbors” included on the mix.
++Pick up the Fall issue of Ladygunn at a Barnes and Nobles near you to tear out the pages with Theo in them and tape them to your wall!
++Listen to this song and fall in love!