Theophilus London will turn heads for more than one reason when he plays Johnny Brenda’s today, Feb. 7.
Armed with a genre-defying sound and conversation starting style, London is gaining positive attention from music critiques and fashion connoisseurs alike.
Following a series of mix-tapes, his first EP “Lovers Holiday” dropped in February 2011. In July 2011, his full-length debut “Timez are Weird These Days” introduced the world to an unfamiliar sound – urban electro-pop. Equal parts Kid Cudi and dance party, London is tapping into a new kind of music with the potential to appeal to a wide demographic.
London also proves himself to be a strong collaborator on his first full-length. The soft and futuristic “Why Even Try” features Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara. Her gentle falsetto is a dream complement to London’s masculine rasp. The duo performed the song together on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Valentine’s Day last year.
Blazers, glasses and gold chains comprise much of London’s wardrobe, creating a look that’s nearly as genre-challenging as his music. Frequently Tweeting his daily choices in footwear and accessories, London is clearly putting effort into his appearance – an effort that is not going unnoticed. GQ profiled him in June 2011, describing the singer as “fearless.” Nylon magazine, a popular outlet for the trendy, also featured him. In the piece, Nylon gave mention to London’s fashion collaborations with designers, including a pair of shoes for Cole Haan.
Born in Trinidad and raised in Brooklyn, London himself is a mixture of cultures – perhaps destining him to mix things up, whether music or fashion, from the start.
TTN: What influenced you to start making music?
Theophilus London: I like to travel and meet amazing people.
TTN: “Rolling Stone” described your music as “hipster rap.” Would you agree with that label?
TL: No, I don’t agree with that label, ‘cause I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what hipster rap is.
TTN: Do you have a better label to describe your music? Or do you want to put a label on it at all?
TL: Yeah, I don’t want to put a label on it.
TTN: You’ve received a lot of attention as of late for your notable clothing style. Have you always been into fashion?
TL: I try to always stay on top of things. I try to always, you know, stay ahead of the curves. I’m always trying to develop what’s next instead of worrying what’s now.
TTN: Where do you get most of your clothing?
TL: I shop in boutiques a lot, and I like to travel in Paris. I got some special T-shirts from Chanel.
TTN: Will this be your first time performing in Philadelphia?
TL: Nah, I’ve been in Philly a bunch of times. It’s cool. I’ve got some friends who live in Philly.
TTN: Having nearly 60,000 followers on Twitter, you’ve definitely been gaining some online attention. What do you like about Twitter?
TL: I kind of don’t like Twitter, really. It’s kind of lame to me. It’s a lot of info, a lot of superfluous things that aren’t true. There are a lot of people who try to make a Tweet into an actual thing.
TTN: In your song “All Around the World,” you sing, “The stupid interviews/questions make us so all laugh.” I hope I didn’t ask any of those questions.
TL: No, you’re actually cool. I like it when people just ask normal stuff. You [can] get me on the phone, then ask me something interesting that you really want to know, or just make it seem like it’s something that’s just for the magazine, like what’s my favorite color or something.
Jenelle Janci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.