Since making their breakthrough with the 2015 hit “It’s Strange” ft. K.Flay, Louis the Child have constantly shifted genres, exploring everything from hip-hop to psychedelia with equal parts passion and precision. One of the most relentlessly inventive acts in the electronic-pop world today, the Chicago-bred duo (21-year-old Robby Hauldren and 20-year-old Freddy Kennett) aspires to only continue expanding their sound as their worldwide following grows.
“Our vision is always changing,” says Hauldren. “We’re always getting inspired by different things, or making some move in a new direction that we hadn’t considered before. The only consistent thing is the art in making the songs, and creating music because we just genuinely love and enjoy it.”
Now at work on their full-length debut, Louis the Child have recently released a series of singles that match their sonic unpredictability with sophisticated songcraft and sharp melodic instincts. For their first single of 2018, the L.A.-based producers teamed up with rapper Joey Purp (a fellow Chicago native and member of Savemoney, the hip-hop collective featuring artists like Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper). The result: “Shake Something,” a moody slow-burner that seamlessly introduces heavy drops and hypnotic synth lines into the hip-hop landscape.
For the follow-up to “Shake Something,” Louis the Child released “Better Not” ft. Wafia—an indie-pop-inspired, harmony-laced track built on steel drum tones, marimba rhythms, and brightly textured beats. The duo’s first collaboration with Wafia, the song finds the Australian singer/songwriter threading her ethereal vocals through sweetly hopeful lyrics. “We approached the song from the standpoint of someone talking to a friend and saying they’re thinking of breaking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but they’re feeling unsure about it,” says Hauldren. “And the friend’s saying back to them, ‘You’ve got something really good going, you’re happier than you’ve ever been—hold onto that.’ It’s a very positive outlook, and it fits into our whole thing of trying to make music that makes people happy.”
Despite their endless genre-bending, certain elements have emerged as signature to the Louis the Child sound, such as their finely crafted melodies and synth-driven rhythms. Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, the duo first began honing that sound after meeting at a Madeon concert when Hauldren was 16 and Kennett was 15. By that point, both had already been pursuing their musical passions for years: Hauldren had taken up piano, drums, and guitar and played in several bands (in addition to DJ-ing under the name Haul Pass), while Kennett had studied jazz drumming through Chicago’s Midwest Young Artists program and begun producing electronic music under the name Fatboy. “I remember being like 10-years-old and watching videos of Kanye chopping up soul samples to make hip-hop beats, which was one of the first thing that inspired me to start producing,” he recalls.
While Kennett and Hauldren started performing at small local venues soon after getting together, they mostly concentrated on producing tracks and making remixes. “No one wanted to bring a 15- and 16-year-old into a club, especially since we weren’t going to bring people in, so we couldn’t get shows,” says Hauldren. “We figured ‘Let’s focus on releasing music on the internet and get the whole world to see us, and build the demand there.’” With their early work including experiments in sub-genres like nu disco and moombahton, Louis the Child steadily gained a word-of-mouth following through their SoundCloud page. That following multiplied after the release of “It’s Strange,” which won the adoration of major artists like Taylor Swift and Lorde, in addition to appearing on the FIFA 16 video game soundtrack.
Also earning widespread praise for their remix work—including Chance The Rapper’s “All Night,” Miike Snow’s “Genghis Khan,” and Ty Dolla Sign’s “Blasé”—Louis the Child soon made the decision to infuse a more personal element into their music. “At some point it became important to us to have a bigger part in writing the lyrics and melodies,” says Hauldren. “We’ve started to share more of ourselves in the writing, and I think that’s really been a really valuable addition to the whole process.”
In finishing up their full-length debut, Louis the Child are intent on instilling that sense of spontaneity into each new track they create. “We’re trying to make music where every single thing we release surprises people and is new and fresh in its own way,” says Kennett. “Whenever we’re able to capture that feeling of surprise, that’s when I feel really strongly about a song.” And as Hauldren points out, that approach amply fulfills Louis the Child’s two main missions as artists and musicians. “We just want to make music that makes people feel good, and have a good time doing it,” he says. “If you’re always messing around and trying new things, instead of doing the same exact thing over and over, you’ll never get sick of the process—it’ll always be fun.”