Lou Phelps discusses 001: Experiments & why Montreal isn’t ready to have its own sound yet
Montreal, QC – Earlier this month, Montreal artist Lou Phelps released his debut solo project titled 001: Experiments.
The eight-track project marks the beginning of Lou’s solo endeavours, as well as a phase of experimentation and finding himself (hence the title 001: Experiments, obviously).
Lou Phelps was formerly one half of The Celestics duo alongside his brother Kaytranada. And while the brothers’ Supreme Laziness album made some major waves, Lou felt that the project represented him trying to keep pace with Kaytranada, instead of exploring his own sound. Eventually Lou and Kaytranada realized that they were making two completely different styles of music. So Kaytranada went and pursued his own solo route, and Lou decided to finally fully commit himself to his own brand of music.
001: Experiments was executive produced by Kaytranada, with additional production courtesy of Tek.Lun on the opening track “Tell Me.” The project also includes features from Kallitechnis, CJ Flemings, Innanet James, and Bishop Nehru.
Photo by @goodgyaljj
“If you think about it, there isn’t really a “Montreal sound”. The moment Montreal has a sound that they can own, will be the moment when Montreal will have exposure.”
– Lou Phelps
If you’re familiar with Lou’s work as a part of The Celestics, prepare yourself for a completely different sonic experience. While Lou’s not convinced that Montreal actually has its own “Montreal sound” yet, this project definitely has a Montreal sound. Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s just a Lou Phelps kind of sound. Either way, the Kaytranada production coupled with the appearances from CJ Flemings and Kallitechnis makes for a distinctly genuine, experimental, Lou Phelps sound.
The track listing features a range of listening, including the Innanet James assisted “What Time Is It”, which was actually the brain child of Lou’s father. The track features a Haitian sample that Lou’s father encouraged him to use as inspiration. The track ended up being Lou’s favourite song on the entire project.
Take in 001: Experiments below, and check out our in-depth interview with Lou about this debut project, finding himself, and why Montreal isn’t ready to have its own sound yet.
Q&A: Lou Phelps
Photo courtesy Instagram
HipHopCanada: Start off by talking to me about what this project means to you on a personal level.
Lou Phelps: 001 is an accomplishment. I’ve got a big sense of relief after releasing this project. I see it as the first step into my solo career.
HipHopCanada: Talk to me about the significance of the title 001: Experiments and how that “experimental” factor ties into where you’re at in life right now.
Lou Phelps: The 001 is to explain the number of the project. So the other projects will follow as 002, 003, etc. These numbers won’t necessarily be music related. So it’s technically the start of something. The title Experiments part was – at first – me experimenting different producers [and] different types of music… not only hip-hop. It just turned out that each track of the project blended perfectly in the project. It is also me experimenting things as a human [and] finding myself.
HipHopCanada: I feel like you’re in this uncomfortable situation where you can’t get posted on a blog without someone trying to make the article about your brother… What’s it like trying to come up as a solo artist when everyone is so set on making you an extension of Kaytranada?
Lou Phelps: At first when I was trying to make The Celestics project work, it was really annoying. I felt like people didn’t take me or my music seriously. It was a rough patch because me and Kay came up together, but obviously he took off before me and I couldn’t understand the situation. But after four years of observing and realizing things, I understood that we were doing two different styles of music. It’s sort of cringe-worthy when I see blogs posting my music with a title like “Kaytranada’s little brother raps!” But I dont sweat it. In the end, if you make good music, the people will like it.
HipHopCanada: On that note… it’s been really interesting to watch your progression from being in the Celestics to being a solo rapper. You came up rapping over these synth-y, bass-heavy beats. But you challenged yourself to make new sounds on this project and go in on different styles of beats. Even your flow on “What We Been Thru” was a flow I don’t think I’ve ever heard from you before. Talk to me about the progression of your sound.
Lou Phelps: I went through phases with my music. Supreme Laziness times were basically me trying to keep up with the up-and-coming Kaytranada; thinking I could ride his wave and the mixtape came out. But I quickly realized that it didn’t go the way I thought it would. The sound that haven’t made the project was more “pop-ish”. It’s because I was thirsty for fame and I was trying to prove something to the people around me. But I’ve grown and decided to stay true to myself and do what I think is the dopest shit. Even if I hear it five years from now.
HipHopCanada: Tell me the story behind your cover art.
Lou Phelps: It’s inspired by the Roberta Flack Bustin’ Loose album cover. I wanted to have a cover that would look sick on vinyl (if ever we do some).
HipHopCanada: Which song on this project is most significant to you, and why?
Lou Phelps: I would say “What Time Is It” with Innanet James. The reason why is because its a Haitian sample. And the idea came from my dad. He told me: “Pipo, you should do a song with a chorus like this.” I did and it turned out to be the most popping song of the project.
HipHopCanada: How did you choose your collaborators for this project and how did those collaborations come about?
Lou Phelps: Kallitechnis – I met her through Planet Giza. They litterally told me, “Yo she’s dope! You should work with her!” And thats exactly what i did. Same thing for Innanet James. Bishop Nehru was through my manager. He knew Bishop’s manager also and we linked like that. And I think CJ Flemings is one of the best rappers coming from Montreal so I reached out and we linked up to work on a couple of tracks.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of collaborators… I love that you chose to work with Montreal artists like CJ and Kallitechnis because I feel like the “Montreal sound” doesn’t get its proper recognition within Canada, and amongst Canadian listeners. Talk to me about that.
Lou Phelps: To my eyes, I feel like Montreal isn’t ready yet to have attention. If you think about it, there isn’t really a “Montreal sound”. The moment Montreal has a sound that they can own will be the moment when Montreal will have exposure. The local scene is so focused on sounding like someone else (Travis Scott, Future, Chief Keef, or whatever) that they don’t realize that they don’t have their proper sound. I wanna be the one to tell my fellow artists that we gotta be original, and have some stats to prove that being original works.
Interview conducted by Sarah Jay for HipHopCanada