Louis the Child Is Growing Up Right Before Our Eyes

Louis the Child Is Growing Up Right Before Our Eyes

The fast-rising electronic duo talks about their new single "Dear Sense", how they keep crowds pumped, and Tupac's possible reincarnation (hint: it's one of them).

The fast-rising electronic duo talks about their new single "Dear Sense", how they keep crowds pumped, and Tupac's possible reincarnation (hint: it's one of them).

Text: Jake Viswanath

Louis the Child is a misnomer. The name sounds like a kid who went viral after doing an adorably careless stunt caught on camera for the world to laugh at. Really, it’s the name of one of the newest and most sought after electronic acts of today. Robert Hauldren and Fredric Kennett attended the same Chicago high school, but it was a competition held by the Spring Awakening festival that brought them together and made them realize their mutual passion for electronic music.

Their partnership as Louis the Child has brought a distinct versatility and brightness to the EDM scene, choosing to expand their electronic music with refreshing optimism and sprinklings of other genres, whether it's straight-up pop or a little bit of soul, as heard on their peppy new single "Dear Sense" with MAX. Having amassed over 70 millions streams with their hit "Better Not" alone and playing at major festivals like Coachella,  the duo is on their way to true EDM stardom. But their hearts remain at home in Chicago.

On their upcoming Dear Sense Tour, the boys are donating one dollar from every ticket sale to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to help end hunger in the community, a widespread problem in their hometown. Robert and Fredric opened up to VMAN about the initiative, their contagious positivity, and speculation about Tupac's reincarnated form. Yes, it's just as bizarre as it sounds. 

Your new single is a really good song, and I wanted to know how that song came about.

FK We wrote it a long time ago with our friend John Ryan. We had two days with him and we wrote two or three songs. This one was really interesting because it was speaking to sense as if it were a person and making you feel like the song is to a person, but it’s actually to your sense. It just seemed really witty and fun. It ended up being great for MAX. He ended up sounding like Michael Jackson and killing the song. I think it’s really interesting writing, talking to sense as if it’s a person, and kind of humanizing things [laughs], and I think MAX sounds really good on it. It mixes future-bass-y sounds with some classic pop-ish, Michael Jackson-type production. I like the groove of it and I think it’s a really cool forward direction for us and for music. 

Totally. What made you want MAX to be on this song?

FK We’ve wanted to do a song with MAX for a long time and we’ll probably do more. We’re close with him and I feel like he just nailed the vibe of this song specifically. It just fell into place naturally. 

RH We’d been talking with MAX for a while about wanting to do a song together, and then the song just felt like something he would sound really good on. His vocal range is insane. We knew he could hit all these crazy notes and stuff if he wanted to.

For sure. I love that concept of humanizing something that doesn’t have a physical form, if that makes sense.

RH Exactly. It’s interesting. I think a lot of writing that does that is really interesting and digs deep.

It totally does. And you guys are going on tour. Whenever you perform live, especially at your own shows where people know you and they come to hear your music, what’s your goal onstage? What do you want to leave behind for the audience?

RH I think we definitely want to take the whole crowd on a journey throughout the show and have them experience different emotions and a lot of highs and lows. I think we just want to connect with them as much as we can and give them something interesting that they can’t just hear when they’re listening to our Spotify. We like to remix our own songs or mash up songs together. We want to create a space and an atmosphere of happiness and joy and positivity. I like to think that every night we accomplish that and that we leave people feeling really happy and feeling stress-free and relieved of their problems.

Completely. I feel like that’s a common goal in all of music, to be an escape. 

FK Totally. Or to make you realize that it’s real. It’s not just an escape, but it’s a real part of life, these shows and just the togetherness of music. Because it is an escape, technically, but it’s an amazing part of real life [laughs]. It’s not just an idea. 

I feel like, especially, you get that whenever you play a festival where maybe not a lot of people know your music. They’re just checking you out for the first time, but you’re being connected either way. How do you guys plan for, or look at, a festival set?

RH For sure, we’re aware of the fact that our set is typically shorter when we’re playing a festival. At our headline shows, we usually play 90 minutes, and a lot of festivals are 60 minutes or less. We have to condense a lot of the set and take out certain songs, sadly. I think we’re also aware of the fact that when you’re playing a festival, there’s three other stages with music playing and at any point, someone could say, “Eh, I want to go to this other stage” or “This is getting boring,” versus when you’re playing your headline shows, people bought a ticket to go see the entire show and they have a little more patience and you can take them into more interesting, weird spaces. I think we’re just aware that we need to make it as exciting as possible and definitely cater it towards what we think the crowd at that festival will like, whether we’re playing an electronic festival or a festival out of the country or a festival that’s got multiple genres. I think we’re just aware of the atmosphere and try to cater towards that. 

For sure. How do you feel that the crowds have been reacting?

RH They’ve been reacting really great for most of the shows. You never know with certain crowds. Sometimes, you think they’re gonna be a certain way and they’re not, or you don’t think that they’re gonna react to something and then they do. But I think for the most part, we feel like we’ve got it pretty figured out, what our fans want to hear at our shows and what they like. 

What are your favorite songs to bring out and surprise people with?

RH We have a really cool little edit of our song “Love Is Alive” that’s always really fun to play.

FK The new “Love Lies” remix is really fun to play.

RH Yeah. I don’t want to give away too much because they should all be surprises for people when they come to the shows. [Kennett laughs]

FK We have a few new mixes of some songs that we put out in the past that are gonna be really fun to play and kind of switch up the old sound a little bit. 

Whenever you guys do original music, walk me through your creative process.

FK It’s always just one inspiration to the next, whether we start with a drum beat or a synth line or a chord progression or start with some vocal chops or unnatural vocals. Let’s say we take a vocal piece, we’ll write chords to it and then maybe, if we have a rhythm for the drums that feels natural, that’s next, or we’ll throw some airy melody stuff on top of it to get closer to the vibe that we’re moving towards. It’s just slowly adding things and taking things away until we get it closer to the idea or the goal emotion or feeling while listening to it.

RH I feel like there’s a great deal of discovery when we make music, discovering new sounds. We can totally be in one kind of world with a certain soundscape and then you stumble upon something else and you’re like, “Wait, hold on. Take that out, take that out, and let’s put this here.” We keep pushing ideas as far as we can and adding a bunch of stuff and trying to mess with shit as much as possible and then go back and simpliy. 

FK It’s cool to see where things start and where they end. It takes us through a whole world of change throughout the whole thing, unless the idea’s super obvious to us right away and it just comes out in an hour and a half. Sometimes that happens. 

Do you feel the same way when it comes to remixes? What makes a song pop or makes it special enough for you guys to want to remix it?

FK It’s always been half the arrangement, how well all the things tie together and feels like it can be turned into its own big thing, and then also melodies and the emotion of the song. Usually, in our remixes that we’ve done in the past, it will end up sounding totally different from the original sound, so if we feel the emotion that the singer is giving, it’s something we can build around and turn into something new. Remixes will start with just the vocals and then build chord progressions or figure out a sonic soundscape and build from there. I’ve always loved a more alternative vocal top line, like some Bon Iver type of stuff, Zella Day, pretty happy, indie music. Same with “Body Gold.” I love music like that. It’s fun to research that.

Is there a song that you’re most proud of writing or remixing?

FK Probably “Love Is Alive.” That’s just a message I want to be spreading into the world, no matter how small or how big the ripple is. It’s something that we stand for and believe in. I feel like “Love Is Alive” just hits the nail on the head for what I want to do in the world with music and what I want to add to the world, as much love and positivity as we can. You get a short amount of time in life to be alive. I’m happy that while we’re here, we’re able to at least try our best to push that mindset.

Totally. Can you tell me a little bit more about “Better Not”?

RH Yeah, that one, we’d wanted to work with Wafia for a while and luckily got in a room with her one day, and I think the song just came together super, super fast. We made pretty much the entire thing in that one day with her and I think the perspective we wrote from was really interesting. It’s kind of from the perspective of a person talking to their friend and trying to tell their friend, “Hey, you have a really great thing going, don’t mess up this amazing relationship that you have. I know you’re doubting yourself, but trust me, it’s awesome, you’re doing great.” I think that was just a really fun perspective to write from and I think production-wise, it just feels like a refreshed version of our classic Louis The Child synth-y sound. I’m really happy with how that one turned out, how well it’s doing, and how people are connecting with it. 

For sure. What can you tell us about your upcoming project?

RH [To Kennett] How much can we say? 

FK [Laughs] I mean, we have a few instrumentals and a few songs [Both laugh]. What else can we say?  We’re very excited about every single song that’s gonna be on the EP. 

RH It’s gonna be a mixture of some instrumental songs and some songs with cool features. 

Do you have a specific goal or message with this EP?

RH I think, mostly, it’s supposed to just be really inspiring modern music. I think there will be a larger message at some point with one of our projects or with multiple projects, but I think this is just supposed to be some inspiring, cool Louis The Child music. 

For your tour, you guys are giving back to your hometown by donating a dollar from every ticket sold back to a food depository. Why is this important to you?

RH I feel like people having an adequate meal and people being fed, it feels like a very basic human right. And I think it’s such an easy thing for us to do to make a really big impact on a lot of people. Especially growing up in Chicago, our schools always had canned food drives and stuff, and I think it just felt right that as we grow in popularity and as our influence continues to grow, that we use that power for good and give back. Last year, we did it just for our Chicago shows, but I’m excited that we’re gonna be able to do it for the entire tour and hopefully make a really big impact on some people back in Chicago.

Absolutely you will. You guys have already worked with some impressive people. Who are your dream collaborators?

FK For me, I would say Bon Iver, Kanye West, and James Blake.

RH Kid Cudi, definitely.

FK And Kid Cudi, yeah. Vince Staples is amazing, Valee, he's amazing. I really like his style.

RH There’s this guy RY X who’s really awesome.

Kanye because of the Chicago connection, or is there more?

FK I mean, I’m sure it has to do with Chicago. For me, I don’t know why, he’s always been a hero of mine, especially because of Chicago and seeing him at Lollapalooza in 2009, when I was really young. I think he’s also a big reason why I got into making music, just seeing videos of him chopping up soul samples and hip-hop beats inspired me as a kid to be interested in the process of making music.

Have you had any funny or memorable moments in the studio?

RH These questions are so tough because you can probably think of a few, but then you’re like, “Wait, there’s probably a better one than that.” [Laughs]

And it’ll come to you after the fact. I know that feeling.

RH Yeah, exactly. I’ll hang up and be like, “Oh, should have mentioned that.”

FK In the studio…Oh, I mean, we were in a session the day Donald Trump got elected and it was the worst session we’ve ever had [both laugh]. No one was happy. We try to make music about happiness, but no one was able to even pull out a little bit of happiness from within themselves. We were all just…sad [laughs].

You and the rest of the country. 

FK I mean, every day me and Robby are joking around and doing funny things. We have our inside jokes, we make new ones every single day [both laugh]. We’ve had a lot of great jam sessions too. We have a fun time creating. 

That got me curious, how did you guys meet and decide to start working together?

FK I found out about Robby making music through an online competition for an electronic music festival in Chicago called Spring Awakening. That set up a way for us to meet. Robby was DJing and I was making electronic music on Ableton and Logic Pro. There weren’t a lot of kids doing electronic music at our school and me and Robby were both just super hardworking and dedicated to doing something that we love, and not just following the route of not knowing what you’re doing but paying a bunch of money to go to college and figure it out [laughs]. We were both just super into electronic music and we just worked at it every single day throughout high school and just pushed until it worked.We ended up playing some shows at our high school for the community center just because we wanted to throw shows and play a DJ set, and then we just decided it was time to start focusing on making music and trying to get it to blow up on the Internet. Basically, two high school kids who loved electronic music and just kept pushing at it until today, and probably will never stop until we die.

RH [Mock deep voice] ’Til we die.

I love people that never retire. Those are my favorites.

FK Yeah, no, I’m gonna reincarnate and keep doing this [laughs]. 

I’m fully convinced Madonna will do the same. 

FK I think reincarnation might be a thing. 

RH Me too. Anything is possible. All I’m saying is—I’m not saying I’m Tupac’s reincarnation, but Tupac was shot the day that I was born, so….

FK Is that a true fact, Rob?

RH That is true. The exact day I was born, Tupac was shot. But he didn’t die until a little later. Anything can happen, man!

FK “Robby of Louis The Child, confirmed reincarnation of Tupac” [both laugh].

What are your long-term goals?

FK We just want to stay inspired and stay trying to do something new and making something that means something to people. I try not to be too goal-driven, I’m kind of journey-driven, focusing on just enjoying doing what I do and trying to do it a new way each time. We, of course, have goals to expand and play really big shows, but I think to just keep making things that people connect with and that make people happy. If I could spend a lifetime trying to make the world happy, I’ll be happy with my intentions [laughs]. 

RH I think an overall goal for us has always been to, as corny as it sounds, even if there’s just one person out there that we can inspire and connect with in the same way that Kanye’s and our idols have inspired us, as long as we can do that and inspire someone else to go chase a dream or put their life into something they care about, that will make me happy. 

Credits: Photo: Cameron Postforoosh

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