Studio Session: How Lido Went From the Gospel Choir to a Festival Stage
Producer Lido's path was a very extraordinary one. His father was the conductor of a gospel choir, which was the only gospel choir in his country. The family connection to music was strong considering Lido was the drummer of the choir. He had the opportunity to travel the world and through this experience, he was introduced to different kinds of music. However, Lido discovered hip-hop after a friend from the States moved to Norway and played Kanye West's The College Dropout for him. The influence of gospel in Kanye's music blew Lido's mind. Years later, the producer would remix Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo into a an amazing project he dubbed The Life of Peder.
Since Lido lived in a small city in the mountains, when he discovered his love for music he began to hone his skills and expand his sound out of necessity. There wasn't anyone around him to make music with so he made it himself, learning how to sing, play the piano and produce on several music platforms.
Through the years, Lido has grown into one of the most exciting young musicians today, performing at last year's Coachella, where he premiered his entire debut album, Everything. He's also been working closely with his best friend Jaden Smith, rising newcomer MadeinTYO and Chance, who he called his favorite rapper right now. Lido produced the Chicago rapper's track "Angels," off his Coloring Book tape.
“[Chance] is my favorite rapper in the world right now, I say that to him,” he tells XXL while in New York. “He’s a genius, he’s so intuitive, he’s so freestyle-based with everything that he does.”
XXL spoke to Lido about growing up in a gospel choir, Kanye West's impact, why he sticks to using Cubix and who he's most excited to work with next.
XXL: You were born in Norway?
Lido: Correct, yes.
So what’s the music scene out there?
Music scene, in general, there’s a lot of indie music, there’s a lot of jazz. It’s a really big jazz scene and also very strong heavy metal scene. It’s not a lot of hip-hop, not a lot of R&B, not a lot of electronic music when I was coming up. I grew up in a very small city up in the mountains. I just grew up on whatever I found on the Internet, honestly. The main influence for me musically earlier on was my dad.
He was the conductor of a gospel choir when I was a kid and pretty much the only gospel choir there is in the country. So that was like my early influence. I grew up playing drums in the church basically. I think the combination of that and probably being the only kid in the country who grew up in gospel music in the middle of nowhere, no real community of music around me, created this very weird background for me to make what I’m making today.
Wow. How big were the services? Did your father travel a lot?
Honestly, the choir was an independent choir; it wasn’t a part of a church. They would tour around to different churches here and there because there aren’t no Baptist churches in the country. So they would just tour church to church. So yeah, he performed at small services where people didn’t really understand it much. But what they did a lot was tour the U.S.
So when I was a kid pretty much every summer I would go with my dad and his choir. Mostly they would be touring the South, not too much the coast. It is like a super weird, exotic thing. It’s an all-blonde, 30-person choir from Norway singing gospel music. It was the weirdest shit they ever saw.
You play a ton of instruments. How did you branch out from playing the drums?
I started off with drums because it’s a very instinctual instrument. It’s a very easy instrument to get into and a very easy instrument to understand when I was a kid. But I still had a lot of love for songwriting. I think because of drums I grew up kind of jamming and shit and being really more of a listener. You don’t need to worry so much about the theory, you don’t need to worry about scales and music theory playing drums.
So I listened to super complicated music and cool music and got to a point that I wanted to write it. So I started learning how to play the piano to learn how to write it from there. Those are the two instruments that I really know how to play. I dabble in most instruments but you can put me in pretty much any situation with a drum kit or a piano and I’ll be comfortable. That’s how I got into keys after a while.
What’s your earliest memory of hip-hop?
I was in the fifth grade and because of the fact that I‘ve been to the U.S. a bunch with my dad’s choir, there’s a kid from Chicago that moved away to my little city in Norway -- his name is Cody; he introduced me to hip-hop. He was the first person to play me Eminem, Big Tymers, Kanye West. And I was the only person in school who spoke English well enough to be his friend.
So I kind of had to be his friend. I was kind of forced by the teachers like, “You need to be his friend.” [Laughs] It was cool we still keep in touch. He lives in Houston now. I remember being in his mom’s car and he’s playing The College Dropout and being like, “Woah, this is crazy.” I never heard gospel music done in a cool way. That was my segue into hip-hop. I remember him playing me “Slow Jams” by Kanye, Twista and Jamie Foxx and thinking, “Man, I get it, I know what this is. This is gospel done in such a cool way.”
How did you get into making music yourself?
Kind of randomly, I just wanted to really make music I guess. I found like Garage Band or some kind of similar, really shitty program on my dad's laptop when I was 11, 12 and started making beats with out knowing I was. I just wanted to make music. Then everything kind of evolved out of necessity. I was in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t have any friends that sing.
So I was like, Someone should sing on these beats. Cool, I’ll sing myself. So I started to learn how to the sing. [Then it evolved to] these drums are cool but I need to have keys and cool things on top of it. So I started to learn how to play the piano. So I kind of just became a one-man band from there, out of necessity. I just wanted to make music.
What equipment were you using then and what are you using now?
The funny thing is, a lot of it is the same. I started out on a very shitty program then I started working on a program called Cubix and very strange that I picked up that one. I’m sure the music store had a sale on that and I picked it up. I stuck with it and nobody else uses it for the shit that I do. It’s mostly used by people who score music.
But I actually do the whole creative process on Cubix. I stuck with it. A lot of people say, “Man, get into Ableton or Pro Tools” but they are just tools. It doesn’t really matter as far as what you’re in. I stuck with that because that’s where I’m comfortable and I’ve been using it for almost 12, 13 years.
Your Coachella set was incredible. You performed all new music. How nerve-racking was that?
I’ve been working on the album for so long and it was almost done and I hadn’t put out music in so long. I didn’t want to play music that’s a year old. That feels weird. I didn’t want to play remixes of people’s music. So I said, Fuck it. I’m going to play this album. I started created a set, like a festival set, and it felt so weird splitting the album up because it created a story.
So I said, Let me play the whole thing front to back. It was absolutely nerve-racking. Most people cater to the crowd. It’s a festival crowd and they came to party. But I said, I’m going to play 90 percent unheard music; I’m going to see what happens. It was cool because it kind’ve turned into a listening party. People just stood there and experienced it.
My mentality behind it was there’s so many DJs and so many incredible electronic musicians playing Coachella, I’m not going to be able to compete with them playing bangers. I’m not going to be able to compete with them with their pyro and crazy production. I might as well do something people will remember me for. So that was that, I gave them an emotional experience instead. It’s crazy to think about it now because it took six months after that to actually put the album out.
Seems like you’re a Kanye fan. What makes you a Kanye fan and how would you rank his albums?
I fuck with Kanye because he doesn’t compromise, never. It does not matter what it is, the current sound is, what topic he is, what bar he’s spitting, he just does whatever he wants at all times. The cool thing about that is that he redefined what hip-hop sounds like several times. People weren’t sampling soul records when he dropped The College Dropout. All of a sudden it was back.
A couple albums go and out of nowhere he dropped 808s & Heartbreak and paves a lane for emotional rappers for the first time. You never heard emotional rap music before that. You never heard a vulnerable rapper like that. And also, rappers singing were very unheard of at the time. So that paved a lane for the Travis Scott’s and the Drake’s and all the melodic rappers. We don’t credit that album enough with that at all.
So for me 808s & Heartbreak is the first one. That’s my favorite Kanye album. After that it might be My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, after that The College Dropout, after that Late Registration. I was never a huge Graduation guy, I was never a huge Yeezus guy and The Life of Pablo is still a bit too fresh for me to find a place for it. 808s & Heartbreak is for sure the most important one in my mind. It was so different from everything else happening at the time.
How do you see the concept of sampling in hip-hop evolving in the future?
I don’t know. I think it’s been such an important piece of hip-hop up until now. I don’t think it’s going to die. I think producers are going to keep doing it but I think it probably turn more and more into interpolations. That’s obviously happening everywhere as well. But it’s a difficult time to sample stuff right now. It’s a difficult time to do remixes because the music industry in general is sort of fighting a war on it.
It’s tough but for me I think it’s really inspiring. It forces rappers and producers to be creative. A lot of the hip-hop that I really love I go back and I realize this sample was 90 percent of what I loved about it. The sample was so important for the entire thing and if you take that away, how much of the song do I really love anymore? So it sort of forces rappers to be songwriters and producers to be composers. It’s demanded. I don’t think it’s going to disappear but I think it’s an interesting time to make music in general.
You worked with Jaden Smith before, he’s so underrated.
He’s about to prove everyone wrong with his album. We’re very deep in his album right now and it’s incredible. He’s being melodic; he’s breaking boundaries on what a song needs to be. He’s a really inspiring individual to work with because he doesn’t see limits at all. And the boy can spit. He actually got bars, which is rare for a lot of the new guys coming up.
Are you working with some hip-hop artists in the future? Who do you want to work with?
There’s a bunch, in terms of stuff that I’m inspired to do right now. Jaden and MadeinTYO’s projects are the ones that I’m really heavily involved in. I really like that new kid Aminé; I’m supposed to work with him. And I really like this guy out of Florida name Twelve’Len who’s doing some really cool stuff. I’m huge fan of NAV. I’ve been listening to him for a while; I really want to work with him. And there are obviously the ones, like I want to work with Young Thug, Kid Cudi, all of these incredible musicians. Right now I’m focusing on making music for myself and diving into a few projects that I’m really passionate about. So yeah, we’ll see what happens
See 133 Rapper-Launched Record Labels From the Past and Present