About 45 minutes before his opening set for English band Friendly Fires at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia on Oct. 16, genre-bending rapper Theophilus London lounged with some Warner Bros. Records executives on the patio of sushi restaurant Katsuya, located just a few steps away from the venue in downtown’s L.A. Live entertainment complex.
Warner Bros. Records senior director of marketing Brant Weil was seen chatting with London about the artist’s ongoing tour and travels. “He’s going to cities that he’s never been to before, so we’re trying to maximize that and get as many promo opportunities as we can in each city, even though some of the drives are just insane,” Weil tells Billboard.biz. “He moves around a lot.”
Weil also notes that London works very closely with WBR on the marketing and promotion of his music. “He’s very involved. So we talk a lot, on the phone and emailing back and forth. Not just me, but a lot of people here,” Weil says. “He has such a well defined vision of who he is and what he wants to do. A lot of stuff starts with him. But it’s very collaborative between us and Theophilus.”
Beyond London’s tour, which ends in early November, WBR plans to keep the rapper in the public’s eye with new music videos and song remixes. “We really want to keep fresh stuff out there, whether it’s videos or remixes,” Weil explains. “He never sits still, so we’re always trying to keep moving with new stuff and give fans something new every few weeks.”
Minutes before his set, London sat down with Billboard.biz outside of Club Nokia to answer a few questions about the promotion of his debut album, “Timez Are Weird These Days” (Reprise/Warner Bros. Records), his upcoming remix album and other projects in the works.
BILLBOARD.BIZ: Your debut album, “Timez Are Weird These Days,” was released about four months ago. how has the touring and promotion been so far?
THEOPHILUS LONDON: It’s been great to see how people have received my first album. I’m excited that I made a big pop record to play at venues and festivals. One of my greatest memories of this year was going out to Paris maybe a month ago and playing seven nights on TV, headlining a big festival in Marseille (Festival Marsatac Marseille), and headlining a show at Moulin Rouge. There were standing ovations after each song. These kids love it, and look at me as this pop icon and cultural kid who fuses all these ideas together. I just want to keep merging on that level.
It’s tough for some hip-hop artists to translate their recorded music into a live performance setting. How have you developed your live show?
I never really liked hip-hop with a band — with drums, bass and guitar without a backing track. I feel like it takes it out of the element. I like the element that it was recorded. So I have a backup track, an electric guitar player, a bass player and a DJ. For TV I have backup singers. But right now I just like the four-piece, straight to the point — and spiritually connecting with the people in the audience.
Your club tour ends in November. What are your plans for the remainder of the year and 2012?
After that we’re going to put out a remix album of “Timez Are Weird These Days” — it’s going to be called “Timez Are Still Weird These Days.” We’ve got Scream on there so far. There’s a bunch of cool shit. I’ve got this other new record called “Big Spender,” which I’m going to play tonight. It’s a big one. I’ve only been playing it live; I haven’t put it out yet. There are some radio rips of it, but I can’t wait to put it out. I’m going to put it out on the remix album. I feel like it’s my biggest record to date. I’ll also be doing another EP and album at the top of the year.
Who else is part of the upcoming remix album?
So far we’ve got Scream, we’ve got one from Gigamesh and a bunch cool, lo-fi DJ/producers. I know [Warner Bros. Records co-president/CEO Todd Moscowitz] wants to get some more big names on it, like Dr. Luke and a couple other dudes. But I like the boutique DJs. They come up with some cool shit on their laptops alone at night and send it back to me. I’m just excited that kids want to remix this shit.
I’m excited about all the synchs that we got. We got one for the new “Twilight” movie. I‘m excited that my music is a soundtrack for people. It’s always played on “Basketball Wives” — like chicks breaking up with their boyfriend while “I Stand Alone” is playing. I like to sit down and be a songwriter so it can live outside of my realm and the studio — and be on shows like “90210.” Another thing I’m doing is designing; I designed a shoe for Nike. And people keep hitting me up to do collections, like Stetson and Nike. So I’m excited about that.