His fluid flow and energy is laced with vast influences from James Brown to The Smiths.
it’s safe to say he’s a different breed of rapper.
Theo took a few minutes to have an e-mail interview with me,
where he shares his love of Hootie and the Blowfish, water,
and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (the videogame, that is).
Told you he was different.
(This interview is unedited 'cause I keeps it real)
1. What was school like for you?
In the early stages school was amazing. My teachers thought I was a genius. I loved writing short stories and reading goosebump books in grade school. I loved show and tell. The teacher would make me go last because my show was always to closer. (Laughs) no one would ever want to go after me. I just love being in front of people and entertaining. I learned what made people cry, laugh, all sorts of reactions. My Name wasn't all that cool tho. I got teased up until 7th grade. People just started to accept it because I started becoming popular lol. At the end I won like every superlative, was super cool with my teachers and peers.
2. How did you know that not necessarily rap, but music was for you?
I had a habit of always writing things down. Weather it was words, Pigs, thoughts or whatever. It all started in middle school when like 60 kids was screaming go the in the lunch room as I beat the table and rap nonsense at the Sam e time. Every thing was in slow motion, peoples reactions, peoples movements etc. I'm thinking to myself like man I have to learn how to control this and maybe ill have 70,000 people reacting to what I'm doing. I never stopped.
3. Your music sounds like the coolest 80's action movie soundtrack with beats over it. Where do you get your consistently unique sound from?
I love dancing. The 80s was a great period to enjoy dancing, so was the 70s. The music had more life and character. It made you feel good about yourself. I hooked up with Machine drum my producer who comes from an ellectro and industrial back ground. He uses drum and bass a lot as well. I just feed him my current moods and vision and he brings it to light. I Love ryhtms there's nothing greater.
4. What (or who) inspires you as a person?
Water inspires me
My life experience inspires me
Traveling to different cities and counties and being apart of diff. Cultures in inspires me.
The Stage inspires me.
Beauty inspires me
The End inspires me most of all.
Because you don't know anything about it.
5. The first line of Star Scream ("It's obvious, you know it's Theophilus") has been spinning around in my head for literally weeks now. Is there any formula/technique to your flow that you follow, or do you just listen and go with it?
I like for my voice and flow to fit the musical pockets of the beat. I'm not just tryna be an obnoxious rapper and boast about blah blah. I use voice and breathing techniques to bring my flow and the beat together. It all starts off as a hum to me.
6. You actually made a wish of mine come true. I first heard the song "Sabali" a few months ago and Damon Albarn's production was so addictive I thought it would be perfect for a rapper. The second track from This Charming Mixtape you kind of re-imagine "Computer Love" by Kraftwerk, where do you get such a vast range of taste from, and is it a conscious effort to go against the norms as a rapper? Not many hip hop artists would even know of a song like Sabali, or any krautrock group for that matter.
Well growing up my Mom never allowed me to listen to rap because of the mood and mind state of the music. She played only Kiss FM in the house. Soul, dance, Jazz etc. I got into Rap later on. Also growing up I listened to the pop station KTU, so I always heard Seal, Hootie and the blowfish, Ace of base etc. So when I got older and understood Hip hop and lived it for many years, I wanted to go back to my roots. Plus all my friends have great music taste and they put me on to what they love. Every Sundays I gather with special friends and we do ipod music trade offs. Every now and then I come across artist for the first time. I research them, enjoy the sound and it inspires me to create more.
7. What's with the sort of revival of the 80's in rap and rock lately? I never would've expected a call-back from that decade specifically, but rappers like The Cool Kids and countless indie rockers are going for that sound now. Why the 80's, and why now?
Well the 80s was pure, it was fast, exciting, bright, new, energy etc. Music has lost that. Now we are gaining it back. We are just picking up where the 80's left off. Its a new sound in the air. People have new attitudes and moods flowing. New creative ideas. I love it. Its great to be apart of it.
8. How do you feel about the rappers who get to the top and then no longer want to rap - or at least, want to do anything besides it for a while (*cough* kanyewestlilwayne *cough*). Can we expect a rock album from you any time soon?
Hahahaha Never. I'm never gonna do Art for a marketing scheme or because of some business suit comes along and feels like it will make me rich. Its sad. These guys have so much talent but settle for so little. They forgot who they really were, and let the fame and fortune take over. You have to keep sane and stay true. Everyone is tryna focus on a new sound but not really focusing on themselves. Shouts to everybody tho. You got to love it, The music industry is finally exciting again. I'd rather a lil wayne rock album instead of hearing young joc or lil jon on the radio ever again.
9. You've got a wicked fashion sense, do you get inspiration for it from anyone/anywhere?
The inspiration comes from studying and living through Eras and genres. My style is called a lil bit of everything. I'm into classic, one off pieces. I do a lot of thrift shopping. My look for now is Charming. And the best thing about it is that can mean anything you want it to mean. Old white or black guys have killer steez. I learn from them.
10. I've heard you mention Sega a few times, are you still into games very much? What's a classic one to you?
I'm actually playing the Wii now. Me and a couple friends love playing Wii Golf. Its helps stimulate the mind. And surrounds your focus on a goal.
I love the sonic days and Michael Jackson's moonwalker.
11. What are some favorite movies of yours?
Crooklyn, Purple Rain, Shaft, City of Gods, Slum Dog Mill., Taken
12. What are you looking forward to this year in your life?
I'm looking forward to touring the world. Meeting and connecting with people through powerful music.
13. Any achievements you are excited to fulfill some day soon?
Performing live under water.
A huge thanks to Theophilus London for taking the time
out of his hectic schedule to answer these questions (via Blackberry!)
Click these links to download Theophilus' mixtapes: