Over the years, doing this blog has given me the opportunity to talk to many of the artists I grew up listening to and enjoying. Even some of my personal all-time favorites such as J-Zone, Milk D, and J-Ro have popped up on here as write ups, which in turn have lead to interviews. I have to say, it’s always exciting talking to artists that you consider among your personal favorites. That happen again recently, as Louis Logic, now known as Louis Dorley contacted me about his new project, Spork Kills.
I’ve been a long time Lou fan, from the first time I heard “Logistics 101″, to the alcoholic ode, “Factotum”, which if I remember right, I first heard on either UGHH.com or HipHopSite.com back in the day. I then found them on AudioGalaxy or Napster, whatever file sharing network I was using at the time, and thus, my years of being a Louis Logic fan began. Over the years, I’ve matured (somewhat), and Lou’s music has matured right along with me. His early stuff was straight up battle rhymes, punchlines, with the main topic being booze, women, and sucker MCs. Being in my mid twenties myself at that time, that’s all I really wanted to hear out of my hip hop artists. His homemade release, Music To Drink By and Debacle in a Bottle were easily some of my favorite music to get drunk to.
As time went on and his first official release, Sin-A-Matic dropped, there was a noticeable change in some of his subject matter and music in general. I too was also going through some changes. The music was more mature, and so was I. No longer was my main concern on where I was drinking at that weekend. I had other things on my plate, other things that I needed to worry about. It was on Sin-A-Matic that Lou drops one of the best George W. Bush related songs in “The Ugly Truth”. My lack of love for Dubya is something I’ve mentioned numerous times and also marks my interest in politics for the first time in my life.
Lou’s next album, Misery Loves Comedy, was an even bigger departure from his earlier sound. The album dealt more with realtionships and other topics, more stuff that I myself always seem to be going through. For me, in my older age, it’s important for me to find music that I can relate to, so while Lou’s music and Lou himself was changing over the years, so was I. It’s that reason why I still check for anything that Louis Dorley aka Louis Logic puts out. It’s also why he was always on my short list of artists I’d like to speak to.
That’s what we did, we had a chance to talk to Lou about so many things in this three part interview that will be going up this week. We’ll start here, with part one, which Lou covers some of his earlier career.
WYDU: What’s good Lou? It is Lou still, isn’t? I’ve seen numerous incarnations of your name as of late, what’s the official moniker?
Louis Dorely: King Dorley, usually. Also sir, master, great one, I use all varieties of those.
W: Oh mighty great one?
LD: That works, you can improvise. Originally, my initial intention in choosing a moniker was to make it so no one had to call me by a moniker, hence working my given government name into my rap name. It just never worked out, of course everyone was bent on calling me “Logic”, and I was like, “Oh God.”
When this whole band thing happened, I was like, “This is nice, a band. I can take some of the ego out of this and make it a little more Marxist. I’ll just be Louis Dorely.” So far, I’ve almost no luck with that. Everyone has been fairly insistent on saying, “Have you heard the new Louis Logic project, Spork Kills?”….
W: (Laughing) Yeah, I’ve read that more than a few times.
LD: I’m not Diddy, I don’t get away with changing my name every six months by doing a simple press release. I’ve got do this by cramming it down people’s throats and not answering to Louis Logic if I want people to take it seriously. It really isn’t a name change, it’s more of a return to my real name that I’ve been going to slowly. I don’t know if it will really ever stick, but I’ll keep doing it. Maybe it’ll become some kind of a joke at some time and that will work to my advantage, who knows?
W: So is Louis Logic dead then?
LD: I wouldn’t say that he’s dead. He’s 34, he pays his own bills, he is fixing his credit, and he doesn’t wake up with two hours of sleep after a night of drinking and feel revived anymore…
W: Yeah, I know that feeling…
LD: So yeah, he became Louis Dorley. He didn’t die, he just changed.
W: I’ve listened to your music since “Factotum” and “Logistics 101″ days, and I’m not sure I’ve seen an artist take the path of maturity that you have. From those early days to what you are now, I can’t really think of anyone, that we as fans, have seen change so openly….
LD: span>I can’t explain this. I think I’m getting a good sense of what you want to know. I think when we were talking off the record about the nature of the interview and that there would be some questions about my past and how it lead to the present and what’s happening now, I think that little off the record discussion is exactly what we’re getting at here. I can fill in the blanks with some of the puzzle pieces that lead me here, where I’m at today. There are a few key influences that inspired me to make some of the changes that I have and to grow as I have, although not all of my fans of my earliest work will consider it growth. That’s just something you have to deal with an artist though, so I don’t worry about that part.
W: Understandable…. I think to get a good grasp of what you are doing now, listeners and the readers have to know the path you took to get to where you are now…….
LD: Even from my beginnings with hip hop, I was always coming to it with the knowledge of a whole other world. It wasn’t that I had hip hop pumped into me from the umbilical cord into the womb. It wasn’t at all like that at all. In my house, it was very classic rock and 80′s metal oriented. My older brothers were two Italian guys from Long Island (Lou was adopted). They weren’t all that into hip hop back then in the 70′s. I knew a lot more about Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Iron Maiden than I did rap music as a kid. My first ever hip hop record was “Roxanne, Roxanne” by UTFO. That record wasn’t about the rapping or the beats, it was about the breaking for me. This isn’t something I usually talk about when I’m asked about this kind of thing. When I was really young, I wanted to break dance for a living. I thought you could be a professional break dancer. I don’t even know if there were people who made a living at breaking at the time, but I just loved it. I would to competitions and that kind of stuff. UTFO was just some stuff I liked to break to. Then I got a 45 of Newcleus’ “Jam On It”, some Fat Boys records, I just kept it moving. By the time I got into the 7th grade, I had spent three or four years being a hardcore breaker and hip hop head. Which is a lot different from the years as a little kid, all on a sugar high, trying to sing the lyrics to Queen songs.
I got really into skateboarding around this time. I had been skating for awhile already, probably about the time I was ten or so. By the time I was 13, I got good enough that I started making that my main priority. Skateboarding introduced me to punk and the stuff that birthed to what we know now as electronica, emo, and stuff like Erasure, The Cure, Depeche Mode and stuff like that. There was a three year chunk that I didn’t listen to any hip hop at all. I listened to stuff that skateboarders typically listened to, and that wasn’t hip hop.
From there, I ran into a skater who was a hip hop head and that was the first time that ever happened. By that point I was 16 or 17 and hip hop just over took me. From that point, from the time I was 17 to 25, I was just a maniac hip hop head. I didn’t want to listen to anything else, I pretty much slammed the door on all other forms of music.
W: So going back to your somewhat gradual change over the years, was their any specific event or person that helped set the transformation in motion?
LD: I started rapping pretty seriously around the age of 19, by 24 I was recording demos and by the time I was 25, my first record came out, the “Logistics 101″ record. And kudos to you for knowing about that. For me that is the start, that is step one. I spent years at being a hard beats, hard rhymes, punchline type of rapper. I would mix in some drunken stuff, some character type of stuff, but it was very traditional. I had meet JJ Brown, by this time and he was trying to break me out of my shell and get me to be more than just a punchline type of rapper. By that time I had made three or four singles. Around this time, Vinnie Paz introduced me to my first “hipster”, Max Lawrence, also known as King Honey. He produced a few tracks off of Viktor Vaughn’s first album. His family was a wealthy Midwestern family from Ohio. His dad was a brain surgeon and his mom was a lawyer. He was a Jewish kid, who was part owner of an art gallery. He was just a big time hipster. But he was just super cool. He seemed to know something about everything. He could make beats, he could play piano, he could do hip hop, electronica, he could do video editing, graphic design, painting, and he was good at all of them.
So Vinnie Paz introduced me to this kid. I used to hangout with him in his art gallery in Philadelphia, Space 1026. Max told me straight up to my face, “You need to stop listening to Eminem records, you are starting to sound too much like him.” By this point I had written a lot of the Sin-A-Matic album stuff, but I hadn’t recorded most of it. Max basically said to me, “Look, I like a lot of that stuff too, but when you go to art school, one of the things they teach you is that you got to hide your references better. Or you have to draw from references that are so far outside of your own medium, which it doesn’t seem strange if their influence on your music is apparent. So why don’t you put your Eminem records away and start listening to some other stuff. And put your Big L records away while you’re at it and your Lord Finesse stuff, cause you are bent on that.”
W: I can see where this is going. Sin-A-Matic had some subtle changes from your earlier stuff, obviously, but Misery Loves Comedy was a lot more musical……
LD: Yeah, exactly. So that’s what I did, I went back to my roots. I started listening to classic rock, singer/song writers and I never really looked back. That was probably around 2001, when I started to listen to other stuff and by 2003, that was it. I don’t even remember the last time I bought a hip hop record after that. In the beginning, it was with function and purpose in mind. I just wanted to make great art, without sounding like the music of those who I listened to. Then it became something else. Then it was about trying to experiment in styles that I wasn’t comfortable, and master them in a public setting while people were watching. I started taking voice listens and learning to sing. Then I became curious how music was written, and felt like charlatan for making money off of music when so many musicians had dedicated their lives to it, playing some instrument, going to school for it that were working in offices, being high school teachers. Here I am this guy, who knows nothing about music theory at all, and I wasn’t getting rich or anything, but I was traveling all over the world and at least supplementing and scrapping by a living with music. It made me feel guilty. So I started taking piano. I always thought it would be cool to play piano and
rap. Whether I could make it work, I wasn’t really sure, but I thought it would be really cool.
My ex-girlfriend, who ended up becoming one of my best friends, she bought me voice and piano lessons for my 30th birthday. I got really, really, really serious about the piano. The voice lessons I took for like a year or so. I used that basically as a means to do vocal exercises, warm up and project so that I wouldn’t hurt myself while I was touring. I didn’t use that as specifically to improve my singing. I think it has improved a lot, people that listen to my records have noticed that I’ve gotten a lot better at it, but that’s come more from studying famous singer/song writers and practicing. Piano on the other hand, I went to lessons for maybe a year to a year and a half. I would go twice a month and studied three to five hours a day. I’m probably down to an hour to two hours a day now, but I’ve stayed pretty dedicated to it and intent on perfecting as much as I could with the piano.
I think those things lead me in the direction that I took. You saw me make records that were just about beer and punchline rap. Then you saw me make a concept album that incorporated that kind of humor and character into themes. Then I took it back a little bit and made a super over the top, beer and battle rhymes record. Then I made a really grown up record about the really silly stuff in relationships. From there, since that time, I’ve been working that the next rap record I make demonstrates what I spent all this time learning while still being fun, catchy and innovative.
LD: Yes that’s how the Spork Kills record really happen. It’s the end of my ten years of learning about rapping, performing live, singing, performing piano and music theory. I met the guys in Denmark and we started making this record. I remember looking back at it and thinking “Wow, this really does use everything I’ve learned over the last few years.” So it’s been an exciting time. It’s really the first time I’ve ever made something that is a focused product of all these years of experimentation.
W: How do you feel about how some people will, and have, taken this change and evolution? Obviously, the core audience that came up with you ten years ago might not be hipped to this, or they could be like me and have grown and matured along with you. I mean it’s like you said, you’re an artist and you can’t make everyone happy. Do you just kinda of move on and not let it affect you?
LD: Not always, it gets to me a little bit. I wish I could show them that there is something else out there besides people with cool voices being smart asses on beats. There is more to music than that. If you just open you’re mind and your heart to hearing it and being a part of it. It’s just so hard to break a first impression. A lot who won’t follow me on this wacky journey that I’ve taken, aren’t really into other types of music to begin with. Or its that they into other types, but their whole thing is: “Be true to your origins.” They don’t like it that I’ve changed so much or they think that I’m desperate, that I’m trying any last ditch effort to be heard. The thing is with this record, it is being made with a higher principle in mind of trying everything that I’ve been afraid to try and making a more musical rap record. Something based in the principals of music theory, not just a cool loop that someone else spent all their time learning all that stuff, playing and then me rapping on it. Maybe you’ve noticed, I don’t know. The Spork Kills record is not even a sample record…
W: I’m not always up on my sample history, but nothing caught my ear as being a sample, so yeah I noticed.
LD: There are reasons for all of that. I wish I could make those kids understand that, or make that matter to them. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter, there is a sentimentality of what it is about an artist that you ended up liking in their first form that you discovered them in. I think Sin-A-Matic was the introduction to most people. Even the kids that were into me before the Sin-A-Matic album came out, there wasn’t really a formed opinion out there, there wasn’t really a formed collection of my music. You couldn’t really say, “this is Louis’ sound.” All there really was at that point before Sin-A-Matic was two self-made CDs that pooled together all the guest appearance work that I had done over the five or six years that I was developing. They didn’t really project a particular sound or style. It was tracks of me drunk battle rapping next to other MCs. Then when the Sin-A-Matic album came out, it was like, “Here he is. He has a personality and a style and a back story.”
Once I changed from that, people were like “Don’t do that! Where is Sin-A-Matic 2?” But I don’t do that, I’ve never been about that. When I look up to an hip hop artist, it’s usually someone like Outkast, who every time they make a record, they completely reinvent themselves. You are either with it or you are not. Me, I respect their boldness and how well they pull of each reincarnation of themselves. I didn’t even really like the last one that they tried, Idlewild. I thought it was pretty unexciting and not a far enough stretch from the previous record. Or maybe even a regression. I still respect them for not just doing the same thing. They could have done another Love Below/Speakerboxxx thing, but together. That would have been a little different than what they done before. But they didn’t do that. They wanted to do a bluesy, rag-time, musical type of thing, and I was like, “What are these guys thinking? This is crazy!” (laughing). But I like that about them.
W: So do you have any regrets in your career, with the way you’ve done things are handled them?
LD: Yes, I do actually, and it’s a business regret. Maybe some people know about this, but most don’t cause I don’t talk about it too much. When the whole feud was going on between Weathermen and the Demigodz, I was trying to pull myself out of it. First of all, I thought it was stupid and I’m not a tough guy and I never claimed to be. I don’t CARE what other people think of that. It doesn’t matter if people think I’m a good fighter. I don’t care if people want to call me a bitch or a faggot, I just don’t care. I’m a grown man and I’m making music, I don’t care if I don’t fit into what you think from an ego stand point, I could give a shit about that.
So I wanted out of it. I tried to remove myself by not participating while they were all battling and try to punch each other an
d all of that. This one night, I was at a bar in Brooklyn and El-P came up to me with Camu Tao, who I’m sure everyone knows ended up passing away not too long ago. That makes this an even more particularly weird thing for me. Camu got really aggressive and in my face about the whole thing. I tried to talk my way out of it and saying to him, “Maybe you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on, but I’m the least involved member of my crew in this whole thing, cause I don’t care. If it really bothers you so much, you should really go and talk to Celph about this.” In part, I said that cause it’s really how I felt and in part I really didn’t want to get into a fist fight cause I hate fighting and I suck at it and he was like three times my size. I wasn’t stupid and just wanted to talk my way out of it.
El-P is more like me in that aspect. We’re grown men, we’re musicians. He was like, “Camu, go sit down and relax. He is fine, he doesn’t want any trouble.” El-P and I sat down and started talking. He asked me what I was up to these days, and told me he had been watching what I was doing and really liked the Sin-A-Matic record and how successful it had been. And I had shopped that album to Def Jux, while it was still in its early stages. He told me then he was interested in it, but I could be waiting for a very long time cause he had his release schedule set for a year in advance. I was so hungry then and major labels were scouting me pretty hard, so I said “No”.
This particular night, he is asking all these questions. I say to him, “Why are you asking me all of this?” And he says, “Because I want to know what you are going to do with your next record.” Immediately, I asked him, “Are you trying to offer me a record deal on Def Jux?” He said, “So what would you say if I was?” I was like, “I can’t talk to about this, and you know that. All my friends will say that I’m a trader and that I have no loyalty. They would make fun of me, I mean they call you guys nerds and all that. I just don’t want to get in the middle of all that mess. I really want to though, I like your label. I think what you are doing is brave and your artists are experimental. That’s more me. I don’t even fit in with my own crew, I fit in way better at your place. But I just feel it’s wrong.” He said he figured I would say that, but he had to ask.
Looking back at it now, it was stupid of me. I should have made a grown man decision and just said yes to the offer. I should have made a business decision with my mind, instead of a boy decision with my heart. It’s 2009 and none of the Demigodz talks to me anymore. Celph, Ap, and all the Army of the Pharaohs guys, none of them talks to me anymore. They think I’m a weirdo and a faggot and whatever. It’s fine, I’m not mad about it, I don’t even feel really bitter about it. It’s just sad that that’s why I said “no” to something that would have put me into Spin and Rolling Stone magazine. I feel like a fool for saying no to that. I never really talk about this when people ask me about it. This might actually be the first time I’ve spoke about it in an interview. I’m a fairly candid guy and open, but I usually skipped over this if anyone asked me something that might lead to that story…….(sound of dogs parking in the background)
W: Sorry man, one second……(screams “SHUT UP” at the dogs)
LD: (Laughing) Well played, sir!
W: Sorry about that man…
LD: No problem man, I got three dogs, so I understand. I thought you might find that interesting. That’s my regret. And there are two reasons. One, it would have exposed me on a much bigger scale to an audience of people who would have appreciated the changes I have gone through. I’m sure you are no stranger to the concept that the Def Jux audience is way more hybrid and mixed than most hip hop label’s audiences. There is a lot of punk kids and indie rock kids and hip hop kids that love it, which is a WAAAAY better fit for me.
W: Yeah that would have been a nice fit…
LD: Yeah, it would have been a much better fit than where I am now. That’s why I regret that decision cause it would have changed things. It may not have been a cure all, but it certainly would have changed things a bit for me, if I had said “yes” to El-P’s offer. Then there is the fact that the people I said “no” for, they don’t even really talk to me. There is only one of them that doesn’t talk to me because he just doesn’t like me and that’s Apathy. Celph and I are still friendly. We talk on the phone maybe once a year and he’s excited to talk to me. It’s more about friendship though with Celph, we have no reason to talk about music. We drifted so far apart musically, there is just nothing to talk about. Esoteric doesn’t return my phone calls or emails. I’ve called him with business opportunities before, “Hey someone wants to book both of us. We’ll get a bunch of money and a free trip, wanna come?”, and he won’t even return my call. I know he’s not mad at me and I’m not mad at him, but that’s the crowd of people I defended. It just sucks.
TO BE CONTINUED…….