2020 Grammys

Producer Lido Explains the Genre-Defying Guest List on Halsey's 'Manic'

Michael Drummond 
Lido

There's a certain amount of pride Norwegians have about their exports, whether cultural or otherwise. Today, 27-year-old songwriter, producer and artist Peder Losnegård, otherwise known as Lido, is extolling the virtues of seafood. Specifically of the raw variety.

"I'm about to devour some Norwegian sushi, so I'm quite happy in this moment," he says to Billboard from the country's capital of Oslo. "You know, Norwegians originally introduced the Japanese to the concept of salmon sushi way long ago," he proudly explains, noting that since then, any Japanese restaurant worth their rice, er, salt, uses specifically Norwegian salmon. "It's the best fish in the world."

If there's someone who knows full-well the impact of his culture's heritage on the world, it's Lido. A native of the southwestern coastal community of Tysvær, his music has ricocheted across the pop and hip-hop landscape, whether through his own solo work, vast catalog of remixes (including two EPs devoted to Kanye West) or notable collaborations with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Jaden Smith and Banks.

This month, Lido's musical influence on mainstream music grows even larger with the release of his latest collection of tracks with perhaps his most frequent musical partner, Halsey. After producing and cowriting multiple cuts on the pop singer-songwriter's past two albums, the two reunite for her third, Manic, on which Lido is credited with working on six tracks. "The whole point of collaboration for me is the energy that comes out of mixing two things together," he explains of his ongoing work with Halsey, for whom he produced past tracks ranging from "Castle" to "New Americana."

"The synergy can be absolutely endless (every time we work together), because we'll both have a new set of influences and experiences every time we meet," he says. For Manic, that freshness resulted in inventive interludes titled after the wide range of Manic guest artists, from BTS member Suga to Alanis Morissette and Dominic Fike (Fike's track is dubbed "Dominic's Interlude," for example). "We are huge fans of all of them and we wanted to give these guys a bit of a spotlight for a moment," Lido says of the idea. "These artists are very important to us, so we just want to have a moment where we give them complete focus, so you can understand how they've influenced us, how they've inspired us and just how incredible they are."

When it comes to his creative process with Halsey, Lido explains his overarching approach to working with the star is to put himself in a fan's position. "I'll think, 'What's the dopest thing a fan can hear from someone like Halsey?' And then we just start exploring and try to see how far we can take things. I've been fortunate enough to build trust with some incredible collaborators who let me push them and let me challenge in terms of trying new things. Once you have that trust, the possibilities are endless."

Growing up in Norway, he was fully aware of regional heroes like the production powerhouse duo Stargate ("they were the first people who I ever saw contribute something to the music scene in the United States, and once they did, it was like, we can too!"), but it was gospel artists that made the biggest impact on his sonic foundation. "My first love was gospel, because I think my dad was one of the few people in the country playing American-influenced gospel music when I was growing up," he says laughing, recalling how the sounds of legendary gospel acts like Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond would permeate the family home. "Gospel was pretty much my favorite music in the world and I absolutely got lost in it and studied it. Through that, I discovered hip-hop music when I became a teenager and then through that, discovered electronic."

First picking up the drums before transitioning to the piano, by the time Lido was 10, he realized he wanted to write music. "For a long time, I actually thought I wanted to be a jazz drummer as a career path," he says. "But then I started writing." Jumping off a foundation of gospel and jazz, Lido threw himself into melody-heavy pop songwriting and became part of an ongoing phenomena of Nordic countries impacting top 40 radio globally. (Recent pop music makers including Kygo, Astrid S, Sigrid and Dagny are all from Norway alone.)

"It could be because since we have a good understanding of English language, but we're not so deep into it, that we focus more on melody than lyrics," he surmises as to why such a small part of the world is making a large impact on popular music. "I think one of the clues is our focus on melody; it's a very simple approach to songwriting and it became a trademark here in Scandinavia." Of course, the frigid weather and lack of sunshine is also a factor. "At least where I grew up, I felt very isolated as the weather was absolutely horrific. You kind of just sit inside and work on whatever your craft is. If it's music, you just write songs all day and eventually you'll hopefully get good and then the outside world likes it."

His eclectic background has also made him prime collaborative fodder for a disparate group of artists, including Chance the Rapper, whose affinity for gospel music made a collaboration with Lido a natural fit. "He was the first person where I was like, 'Oh, I have all of these gospel-influenced rap beats that nobody in the world wants to rap on but they're perfect for Chance,'" he says of the Chicago rapper, whom he first linked up with via SoundCloud, with the two later collaborating on his Coloring Book standout "Same Drugs." "We connected immediately and saw an outlet in each other. It was like, 'Oh, you have something that makes a lot of sense for something I offer (and vice versa).'"

Lido enjoyed another instant connection with Jaden Smith, whom he calls "like family," and contributed four tracks to his 2019 sophomore effort Erys. "The first thing that comes to mind is that Jaden just has no limit. He has no boundaries, no box. He is down to do whatever. He once approached me with a tiny little piano thing, and we spun out of control and wound up with a mega 20-minute super song we had to break up into four parts."

That unique confluence of influences will soon manifest in his debut album as an artist, dubbed Peder after his real name. A concept work based around the idea of a boy on a spaceship who has never heard music before, he says it's a salute to everything that's shaped him to this point. "It contains all of the inspirations I've had, the people that I've worked with and the genres I've been involved with," he notes, explaining that it will have plenty of features to boot.

"I've tried approaching it with a very, very equal priority between all of them and tried to make something that reflects just how much they all have in common, and the cool ways you can combine them." In addition to the album (which is tentatively scheduled to drop by year's end, perhaps even by this coming spring), he's also plotting out an entire world seen through his vision that consists of music videos and additional musical projects.

"My main thing about music is curiosity," he says, finishing that aforementioned roll of bona fide Norwegian sushi. "I guess I always try to combine things that have never been combined before."


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