Grateful Web Interview with Looshuss

Before Looshuss’ Austin show this month, GW’s Caitlin St. Pierre sat down with the promising new artist.  If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will soon.  In the past couple years, he’s dropped his debut, self-titled album, won Best Electronic Dance Song at the Independent Music Awards, is gaining traction with fans and listeners, and is currently working on his second record.  If you’re in the Austin area you should drop by the next time he plays and buy him a beer, and if you’re not, you can buy his album on iTunes—but be warned:  Looshuss is addicting. 

GW: As an artist, you’ve worn a lot of different hats.  Most of your career you’ve played with groups, and now you’re fusing electric guitar with electronic sound.  How does writing and performing alone stack up?

Looshuss: Well, it’s a lot easier in a lot of ways, and it’s a lot harder in many other ways.  On one hand, you don’t have to deal with the drama of other people, and be married to the other four guys in your band.  Dealing with their schedules, problems, and personalities can be difficult, but then being up there by yourself is also really difficult because if you mess up it’s all on you.  It’s a lot more pressure, I guess.  Because for me, I’ve never been in the spotlight like that, I’ve never been a singer, guitar player, and producer simultaneously.  So there are a lot of challenges but it pushes me to become better.

GW: So performing is harder but writing is easier?

Looshuss: Writing is still really new for me.  I used to just write guitar parts and help out with lyrics here and there but I wasn’t involved in the writing process.  Now, when I write, I need to be completely alone.  Even knowing there is someone else in the house will throw me off. 

GW: At least you know what works for you.  You’re currently working on your second album, following your debut album, Looshuss, which came out in 2012.  How would you describe the album?  What will set the two apart?

Looshuss: The Looshuss album was kind of an all-encompassing work… it spanned 3 ½ years of work while I was developing my style, it’s kind of my take on electronic music and as you can tell throughout the album it is pretty eclectic. The next album will be that, but probably more cohesive.  My thought at the time was just, get the stuff I have out there, you know?  The second album will probably also sound better, I have learned a lot about the technical side of things since then.  Creatively, I think it will be more dance-oriented.  It will be more uptempo, something people can move to.  I want people to have a good time.  As far as live performances go, getting people moving, that’s the most fun.

GW: For Grateful Web readers that can hear you on Spotify, or buy your album, what are they missing by not seeing you live?

Looshuss: Thats a good question.  There’s more energy and of course, a laser light show!  It's just me up there, and I don't ever have a lot of light directly on me. So, the attention is more focused on creating an experience.  That is one of the things I have always loved about electronic shows, you feel a connection because you are just enveloped by the music, people dancing together, and the lights. You get lost in it.  So that is what I try and accomplish with my live shows.

GW: What song got the best response from the Looshuss album?

Looshuss: Not Myself.  It's more dance-oriented, I think that has something to do with it.  It's also the song I won the IMA’s for Best Electronica/Dance Song for 2012.  I probably spent the most time on this song and it was one of the last songs I wrote on the album.  It is my favorite to play as well.

GW: Congratulations!

Looshuss: Thanks, it was really cool to receive some recognition. 

GW: When writing, how do you draw inspiration?  What’s your process?

Looshuss: I draw inspiration from anything I can haha.  Sometimes it can come from the weirdest places, and other times it comes from just listening to my favorite artist.  My creative process is solitary, absolutely.  So I can get completely lost in whatever idea that starts to form.  It’s still something I struggle with because the process is different every time.  Usually, though, I start with a beat, and then I work around that.  After the beat, I get some kind of chord structure in there, maybe throw in some bass, and then I’ll loop a section of the song and then start messing around with the melody lines.  

GW: Do you start thematically and then work out the technicalities of the song?  Or do you work in reverse?

Looshuss: I start small and grow big.  As far as the idea of the song, I can hear it in my head the way I want it to sound… then I’m able to create that by adding different instruments, effects, whatever.  For lyrics, I won’t have any idea what I’m going to write about, but once I have the melody line words will kind of start coming to me and fitting into the song, that’s usually how it works.  Every time I start from scratch, I don’t have a recipe that works for every song.  But creatively, I think that’s what keeps my songs sounding fresh.  It’s harder, it takes me a lot longer to write songs.  I’ll go weeks without drawing inspiration, but then an idea starts to snowball, and I lose myself in it. 

GW: You grew up in the Live Music Capital of the World, home to some of the best musicians in history.  Did this exposure affect your becoming a musician?

Looshuss: Absolutely.  Two of my biggest influences are Stevie Ray Vaughn and Ghostland Observatory and they’re both from Austin.  It’s affected me… completely.  SRV was the reason I started playing guitar, and I’m a blues-oriented player because of that.  Ghostland was what made me start creating electronic music.  I listen to everything and have many different influences, but these two artist have invoked the most dramatic musical transformation in my life.

GW: What would you be if you weren’t doing this?  What’s the Plan B career?

Looshuss: That’s a really good question… I guess I’d still be connected to music, somehow. I really like the lights and production side of music.  So, if i wasn't writing music/performing I would either be mixing/mastering other peoples music, or being a light designer.  Luckily, I haven’t really had to think about it.  Music has worked out so far.  It is weird to think of my life without music in it.

GW: The electronic music scene, not just in Austin, but everywhere, is exploding.  How have you witnessed it change?

Looshuss: I guess I got into it about 5-6 years ago.  Ghostland was my first electronic show.  They were kind of hitting the scene (at least, in Austin) before it blew up.  Then I got into dubstep when Bassnectar came around.  The first electronic music festival (Future fest) I went to, the "dubstep stage" was the smallest one.  It was so small that there wasn't even security, we were just walking right on stage when Datsik was playing his set, with him offering us "pulls" out of his vodka bottle.  I hadn't even heard of him at the time haha.  Then, 3 years later, the same artists are playing some of the biggest stage's in the world.  It’s been really crazy to witness how fast and much it’s grown.

GW: Do you think the boundaries are being tested and reinvented?

Looshuss: There have been so many sub-genres that have emerged already, I am really interested to see where it is going next.  Some people say dubstep is dead, I don’t think that’s true.  But there’s a lot of room for growth.  New sounds are being created everyday.  That’s the cool thing about electronic music, you have infinite sounds to manipulate and create, you’re not held back by anything, except your imagination.  I think electronic music definitely pushes the boundaries, it is the new frontier.  Although, I think with its great popularity now,  that a lot of  the new producer/dj's are just trying to sound like other people and sticking to formulas too much.  Artists like Tipper are really pushing the boundaries, in my opinion. 

GW: Being an artist is not an easy life.  You choose it knowing there will be many months of scraping for rent, early mornings, late nights.  Nothing is guaranteed.  What makes it worth it?

Looshuss: Being able to create music.  That’s it, for me.  I haven’t gained a lot of success yet, but I feel successful.  I am able to create something that other people listen to.  The most rewarding thing has been finishing the album, that was a huge thing for me.  It was difficult gathering all the songs I thought would make the album as good as it could be.  There are still all these half-finished songs, ideas I didn’t use.  But I set the goal for the album, and I met it.  And the coolest moment was meeting Aaron Behrens {Ghostland Observatory} backstage three years later, after I’d finished my album, and I got to tell him and Thomas Turner that they were the inspiration for my album.  Long story short, my brother-in-law gave Aaron my album and the very next day I saw them for the annual summer Ghostland show at White Water Amphitheater.  This was the first place I had seen them play, so it was full circle for me being backstage talking with Aaron about my album and him saying "It's in my car cd player right now!".  That was pretty much the highlight of my career, and made it all worth it right there!

GW: What do the next 5 years hold for Looshuss?

Looshuss: Just creating as much as I can, pushing myself harder and harder to get better at my craft. 

GW: Is Austin the place for you?

Looshuss: For now, it is.  Moving would definitely spark some new creativity.  Meeting different people, going to different shows.  I would like to move at some point.  Colorado’s pretty high on the list.

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