LP Giobbi is busy as hell. After opening for her musical besties Sofi Tukker in Mexico City, playing a Coachella pool party and then the festival itself in the span of three days, it’s reasonable she’d be tired.
And another big week is looming. Before her Coachella weekend two set she’ll open for Yaeji in L.A. and play two shows in Denver. After Coachella, she’ll trek to rave mecca Ibiza to open for Bedouin and speak at the IMS conference, immediately after which she’ll circle back across the globe to Guatemala for Empire Music Festival.
Despite this insanely busy life on the road — she hasn’t been back to her home in Austin, Texas since January — LP is bright-eyed and enthusiastic. Her presence is both energizing and grounding, reflective of who she is as an artist: joyful, optimistic, supportive, inclusive, self-assured and driven. Despite having just over an hour before she’s due onstage at L.A.’s Novo theater, she takes her time while sitting down with Billboard to discuss her new album.
Over the past few years, as she picked up steam with a string of euphoric singles (including “Sinner” with Bklava, “Somebody To Love” with Ben Kim, “Say A Little Prayer” with Amazonian Rockstar, “Carry Us” with Kaleena Zanders), she had over 13 labels reach out to her, eventually finding a home with Ninja Tune’s Counter Records. All the while — on trains and planes and in stolen moments in airports, hotels and rented studio space — she was writing her debut album Light Places, out this past Friday, May 12.
The album is a kaleidoscopic sonic tapestry of synths, percussion, LP’s signature piano riffs and a chorus of uplifting female vocalists including Sofi Tukker, Caroline Byrne, Little Jet and Monogem. There’s a strong undercurrent of joy throughout, yet many of the tracks showcase a different side of LP’s sound, particularly the stripped-down beauty of opener “If Love Is A Skill” with her longtime champion Sofi Tukker, along with the psychedelic sun-soaked vibe of “All In A Dream” with DJ Tennis and Joseph Ashworth and the sweet melancholy of “All I Need.”
Currently working its way across the U.S., the All In An Airstream Tour is seeing LP and DJ Tennis travel in an Airstream to locations including Joshua Tree, Berkeley, Big Sur, Asheville and New Orleans for pop-up performances. LP’s 2023 tour schedule also includes big festival sets at Lighting in a Bottle, Tomorrowland, Defected Croatia and Ibiza, along with a stage takeover of her Femme House brand at Elements Music & Arts Festival.
Beyond additional dates in Ibiza and Brazil, a residency at Superstition in Austin and multiple treks across North America, she’ll also be serving up her Grateful Dead-inspired Dead House shows for official Dead & Company afterparties — which, as the daughter of Deadheads, is something she’s still freaking out about. Jerry Garcia’s estate also recently tapped her to remix his 1972 debut solo album via Garcia (Remixed), a trippy marriage of LP’s love of jam bands, psych rock and dance music.
It’s all wonderful — and a lot to unpack. Below, the producer breaks it down.
Did having the format of the album and the pressure of it being your first help you hone in on your sound or the way that you worked on the songs?
Up until now, I’ve been a singles artist. The best thing about this process for me was that it allowed me to write B-sides [lets out sigh of relief], tracks that didn’t need to be hugely successful on Spotify or have a vocal hook in the first 10 seconds.
I wrote most of the album on planes, trains and in hotels. Then I flew to Paris and got in the studio with [DJ] Tennis and [Joseph] Ashworth and [Michael] Cheever. We took all the MIDI parts and rerouted them through vintage synths; we were in this amazing studio that had every vintage synth possible. We put everything into the same world sonically. We also recorded live drummers and layered that with electronic drums.
This album isn’t necessarily for the club, it’s more of a musical journey. I actually ended up making club edits for pretty much all of the tracks, which are the versions I play out, but the album itself got to stand alone and fueled me in a different musical way.
You talked about being in motion with a lot of the album, but where did you start and how did you know when you were done?
Well, you never know. You know you’re done when the label’s like, “We need the f—ing album.” When I signed this deal, I really took my time. I had 13 label offers. I picked the label thinking, “How do I want this music to identify? Who do I want this music to identify with? How do I want it to be seen or shaped?” So, when I landed on Ninja Tune, I had an idea of how deep I wanted to go with the album versus a more mainstream dance label.
I had hundreds of bits of songs and maybe 50 tracks. And I started road testing some of them to see what’s working for the dance floor, and maybe what’s not; I wanted to balance both. Along the listening process, the album told me what it needed. I just had to listen.
The album sounds like you sat down and spent time with it.
Oh, my God, I wish. I’m always writing and always touring. I’m hearing more artists all over the world and I’m deeply influenced by what I’ve heard and where I am. The music I’m writing now is very much for the club, I don’t want any vocals on it. It’s sort of the opposite direction [of the album]. It’s been fun to see where this body of music takes me.
I wanted to talk about “All I Need” and its interlude with the sweet voicemail — is that your grandma?
It’s actually [my tour manager] Xander’s grandma. We had just played this amazing gay music festival, Utopia, in Isla Mujeres. The day after, the promoter took us out on a boat, and Sophie was there and we were having drinks. It was one of those “life is good” moments. Xander’s grandma Shirley called him the next day and [left a voicemail saying], “I hope you got a good tour, I saw you sitting on a boat with a drink in your hand, looking like a millionaire.”
Light Places is named after your dad’s favorite Grateful Dead lyrics.
It’s from the song “Scarlet Begonias”: “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” I was in Australia and was feeling extremely ungrounded and untethered. When I’m home, my dad and I pass a notebook back and forth to write a poem together. I called him and asked if we could do that when I’m on the road. Now, we write a poem before every show I play. It brings me back home. On his 70th birthday, I made it into a book for him, and it’s now a merch item. It’s my favorite thing that I do.
That’s so great.
I was like, “Dad, I need a name for my album. What are some of your favorite Grateful Dead lyrics?” He sent me this huge email where he broke down all of his favorite lyrics to different songs. I had just finished a gig in Ibiza, it was four in the morning, and I’m reading his email. I was deliriously tired and read that line and “light places” danced in front of me. I realized, “that’s LP.” It’s so funny how language can give meaning to us. I realized that’s what I want to do, create emotionally light places for people.
When I first started pursuing music, I didn’t know if it was a worthy enough endeavor. I was in school and did a lot of women’s empowerment studies and wanted to be an activist. My mom said, “The Grateful Dead shows that me and your father went to would hold me through and are what gave me so much joy in my life. If that’s what you do, that’s enough.” That is what I want people to feel when they leave my show.
How have your parents inspired you?
I dedicated the album to them. “Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places when you look at it right” is kind of an ethos of how they raised us. We’d come home from school like, “This thing happened and it sucked,” and my dad would always tell us [the tale of] a guy and he breaks his leg in the summertime, but then there’s a war and everybody but him gets drafted.
They also really instilled the importance of live music in me at a very young age. There was always music playing in the house and we were always going to shows. That was kind of our church, standing in a community of people, being part of something greater than yourself. Also, they’re front row for everything. Every iteration of everything that I’ve done, they’ve been there cheering me on.
I played with Dead & Company and there’s a great video that somebody took where my mom is wearing my merch, riding the rail and as the song drops, she just starts head banging and smacks the person next to her.
What was it like playing with Dead & Company?
It was crazy. It’s Dead & Company’s last tour, and I’m doing their after parties in some key markets. I got to introduce my parents to Bob Weir, their hero. My mom said to him, “Thank you so much for all the joy you’ve given my family over so many years.” And he put his hand to his heart and said “The pleasure is all mine” with the most sincerity in the world. Deadheads are f—ing crazy; that fan base is so intense. To have toured and done this for 60 years and to have heard that and still “hand-to-heart” feel that way was mind-blowing. It was such an inspirational moment to me.
And you remixed one of Jerry’s albums. How did you get connected with them?
I became a female producer and in order to be taken seriously, I started wearing baggy clothes. It’s really f—ed up. My parents gave me their vintage Grateful Dead shirts, so I started wearing those, and children of Deadheads started connecting with me. In fact, DJ Tennis and I became friends because I went to one of his shows and he was wearing a Grateful Dead shirt.
A friend was working in a studio and saw that I was wearing these shirts and sent me some of their stems. When I was livestreaming and wanted to make it interesting for myself, I took their guitars and reworked and re-pitched them and started sampling them in my sequencer and layering them over different things. I would take Jerry’s voice and warp it and start playing around with that over other tracks.
I did a livestream that Bob Weir was also on, and his manager saw my set and called him. The Garcia estate — his daughter, Trixie Garcia — reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do an official remix for the 50th anniversary of his first solo album, which was crazy.
Jerry’s voice is like my uncle. It’s the voice that I heard the most in my house growing up. It was overwhelming, and an honor. Then they asked me to play at their festival and do these after parties for the last tour.
When you got asked to do the remix album, were you worried about messing with it?
For sure, the pressure was so intense and so real. There are some old school Deadheads that f—ing hate what I did, and they were not afraid to let me know. At first, that made me really sad [because] I’m just trying to bring this music to my community. But I had a few amazing moments that made that not matter to me.
I played my first Dead House show in Eugene, where I’m from, and this father and son flew in from L.A. and New York to come to the show. Afterwards, the dad pulled me aside and was like, “We’re a dysfunctional family. My son and I do not get along, and we hate each other’s music. I’m a Deadhead and he’s a raver. This was the first two hours that we’ve been in a room and shared happiness, affection and joy together. Thank you so much for providing that.”
You occupy this psychedelic space in dance music that is very fresh and inviting. Is that intentional or just a product of who you are, and the music that you were raised on?
It’s intentional in the way that I had to work hard to find myself and be okay with myself. Once I let go of needing to be cool, or following other people’s [ideas of] what’s cool in dance music right now, it [became] so natural to me. I grew up a jam band kid. Once I finally was like “this is who I am,” it started flowing more naturally and was way more fun.
Can you speak to your creative relationship and friendship with Sofi Tukker?
I owe a lot to them. The biggest currency you can be gifted is belief. And they did that from the very beginning. They saw me play a horrible DJ set, I didn’t even know how to DJ yet, and I was opening up for them at an afterparty at a festival. I was in a band at the time. They were like, “We loved your energy, we want you to go on tour with us.” They were doing their first tour and had just released “Drinkee.”
I literally learned how to DJ in front of their loving audience. I was so f—ing bad, and they gave me so much love and support. I’d get offstage and Tucker would give me some tips and talk me through the set. They literally built stages for me and started a label [Animal Talk] for me to release music. They have supported me every single step of the way. Their friendship and support have meant the world to me. Seeing the power that artists can have on another artist’s career was a huge influence for me to start Femme House and pay that forward.
What’s the next era of Femme House? Where are you taking it? It’s grown so much.
That’s a really good question and also overwhelming. My co-founder Lauren Spaulding and I have tried to do dream sessions, but I couldn’t even dream that this was possible. I’m hoping it naturally reveals itself. I’ve sort of spent my whole life driving and grinding, and now I’m really hoping that I’m in a phase where I can lean into the more knowing feminine energy and wait for it to come to me.
One day, I’d love to have a [Femme House] festival and all that stuff. Education is an important part of why there are so few female producers, as is visual representation. So, we’ve done a lot of stage takeovers and live activations, that’s been a big focus for us the last few years. We want to meet more cool people who believe in this mission and work with them.
What has helped you the most in getting to this point? Did getting the right team impact where you’re at?
I always say I won the lottery twice. Once when I was born to my parents, and then again when I got my piano teacher. That has continued to happen, via the people I met in my life who have supported and encouraged me and shown up and given me opportunities. That’s mostly why I’m here. I do work my ass off, but it takes so much more than that.
I have a really, really good team now. My day-to-day Julie is a beast. I’m gonna give a ton of credit to Xander. I would not be here without him, on an emotional and physical level. He does what I do, except his job is way worse. He has to be the first one up and the last one to bed and always shows up with a smile.
Do you dream of a Billboard hit?
No, I really don’t. Fame is a funny thing. The tiny bit that I’ve experienced of it, I’m like, “no.” At the end of the day, I want to be on my deathbed really proud of my art.