The Weekly interview: Rapper Theophilus London

Theophilus London brings his room party to the Cosmo’s Boulevard Pool Thursday night.
Amy Sussman, Invision

There are a handful of reasons why up and coming hip-hop artist Theophilus London should be the next guy on your radar, if he isn’t on it already. His debut LP, Timez Are Weird These Days, is sprinkled with synthy ’80s accents and features artists like Sara Quin (of Tegan and Sara) and Holly Miranda. He likes The Smiths so much so he named one of his earliest mixtapes This Charming Mixtape. And in 2013, he played Coachella—a feat reserved only for acts that have more or less, made it. Yet the Trinidadian-born, Brooklyn-raised rapper appears to be less focused on what’s popular and more concerned with how to make his inspirations relevant to everyone else. London talked to the Weekly about partying in Vegas and how an uncanny marriage of country and electronic music is influencing his next album.

Timez Are Weird These Days came out in 2011. When can we expect the next album?

I just rented a sick house out [in California] and built a studio inside the living room. Today’s the first meeting, organizing all the songs that I’ve written. It’ll be done in the fall, but I’m really excited to release it top of the year.

Will we get a sneak peek of any new material at the Cosmopolitan show?

I’ll definitely play a bunch of new songs. It helps us learn early on how they work live. I’ll also play my last album and some of my mixtape stuff.

I read that you’ve been digging the latest Vampire Weekend and Daft Punk albums. What else is influencing you right now?

[Kanye West’s] Yeezus. And a lot of things from the past. I’m mostly into listening to my retro collection right now. I listen to a lot of really old western and country music. There’s a lot of cool stuff in there … all the heartbreak of the country darkness. I’m trying to make it relatable to what I’m doing.

Does that mean there’s more heartbreak on this album?

I have so many points to get across on this album. I’ll be heartbroken for two songs, but not the whole album.

Is that pretty typical for you? Heartbroken for one moment, fine the next?

My mind moves very fast. I go through a lot of moods and emotions. So the album should show that. Mostly, the album is progressive and electronic with funk beats. It’s influenced by rap, too. I worked with Brodinski [who co-produced “Send It Up” and “Black Skinhead” on Yeezus], and I went to Germany and worked on a really cool poppy, island jam with Peter Fox. It’s a good vibe.

I’m assuming you’ve been to Vegas before. What’s a typical night here look like for you?

Me in my hotel room. I might be in the hot tub (laughs), some friends watching TV, watching the Knick game. That’s my typical night. I don’t favor going out in the streets where all these drunk people are. There’s a lot of crazy people in casinos.

So you save the party for your shows?

Yeah, I party in a different atmosphere. I’ll stay up all night and party, but in my room, not in a big club. Sometimes I’ll have guilty nights where I want that type of stuff, but it always ends up with me super tired, walking home faded.

I wandered into a bar in Chicago two years ago and you just happened to be performing. What is it like going from smaller venues, where people may hear you for the first time, to larger ones, like the Cosmopolitan?

I think it’s more interesting to play a place where no one really knows you, but I think touring is also great. I’m not in touring mode [right now], so it’s mostly like a party, you know? I feed off the crowd, and they make me do cool things—it’s just a mesh of feeling better together.

Theophilus London July 25, 8 p.m., $20. Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool, 698-7000.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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