If any musician could really make you feel like the world is ending, it’s Los Angeles artist Shlohmo (AKA Henry Laufer) and his latest release, the hauntingly dystopian EP Heaven Inc. is a testament to that statement. After almost 10 years in the game, Shlohmo has delivered another project that experiments with genres and incorporates his atmospheric mastery.
Beyond his rich catalogue of personal music, Shlohmo stays busy with his collective Wedidit, consisting of artists like D33J, RL Grime, Deb Never and more—plus an accompanying a clothing line and a monthly NTS radio which has been running for the past four years. On top of all of this, Henry has produced for an impressive roster of artists including Lil Yachty, Post Malone, Yung Lean and Joji. Not only has Shlohmo been able to keep up with a constant creative schedule and enviable output, but he’s also carved out a memorable and well-loved aesthetic, and is considered a major influence on his surrounding culture.
Speaking to Henry, Heaven Inc reveals itself as a project he is uniquely proud of. On a Zoom call between Brisbane and Los Angeles, Shlohmo elaborated on the uncommon processes that took place during the pandemic, and how it brought the right creatives together to produce the unusual, yet unforgettable project.
Some people have said that Heaven Inc is an extension of The End. Some say if Dark Red is your favourite Shlohmo album then Heaven Inc is IT for you. Others are saying that they’ve caught Bad Vibes moods from it. Obviously, it’s always going to have a consistency of your unknown-to-mankind genre, but were you going for any reminiscent factors from any of those earlier projects?
I don’t think I try to do anything. It always just feels like a continuation, just making stuff. So it would make sense that it has reminiscent factors, that would definitely make sense to me.
Your ability to bend genres and create unique atmospheres within your music is something that I know astonishes people. If I suggest your music to someone, they’re like “what genre is that?” And for the love of me I cannot figure out where to start. Can you give us a description in a few words of your genre so that this can be settled in a way that does you justice?
Somebody said to me the other day a perfect genre combination that doesn’t exist yet and I cannot remember it—oh my god. Sad electronic music would do it justice. If I say dance music it just confuses people.
You always have carefully selected aesthetics to match your releases, it shows that it’s something you really care for—the visuals on this release have been something else, too. The visualiser for your track ‘Nice & Shiny’ is almost exactly what I would describe to others when they ask me what your music is like. How was it to work with Actual Objects and David Von Bar for Heaven Inc, was it difficult because of COVID to organise back and forth?
David Von Bar is a painter from Sweden, and we had previously spoken about doing some kind of artwork for me, and me selecting pieces of his artworks, deciding if I wanted a piece that was already made or a new one—that was kind of in the works for the past year with him.
The Actual Objects thing actually happened kind of recently, we had just started talking and I had found out that they are really old fans of mine and who actually met at a show of mine at their High School 10 years ago. They knew my entire everything. When we finally got to work together it was like the easiest thing in the world because they knew 100% of my aesthetic, and the whole time I was like “you are correct”. It was the least amount of back and forth to be stylistically understood, they just so get me.
The titles of your tracks like ‘Trapped In A Burning House’, ‘Emerge from Smoke’, ‘By Myself’ all represent an obvious feeling that you get from listening to the music, can you tell me about the title choices behind ‘Heaven Inc’, ‘Looking At Plants’, ‘Misanthrope’ and ‘Nice & Shiny’?
The titles are actually just random things I think of, I’ve got a page in my phone of just words and it’ll just come to me sometimes and I’m like “that’s a song name!” Every few years a song I make will fit and then I’m like “that’s it.” Either that or I’ll just sit with an untitled track for a really long time and I’ll keep listening to it while I keep thinking of words, ‘Misanthrope’ was like that. I kept listening to it over and over and over and then I was like, this song sounds like hating the world so Misanthrope it is. ‘Nice & Shiny’ was named during the process, I was making it and I was sampling a bunch of ASMR videos on youtube. And there’s this one, of a woman cleaning a set of windchimes, whispering as she’s cleaning them and she talks about them being nice and shiny.
At the other end of the The-World-Is-Ending spectrum of things, you also released a very stay-at-home, very-chill project with Jay Worthy this year. What was it like working with him?
Worthy is awesome. We’ve been working on and off for the past two-two and a half years. We were introduced to each other through A$AP Nast at a party he was like “you two should link up!”. I was like “I’m such a big fan of yours” and he was like “no way!” and we probably made like 10 or 11 songs the first time we hung out. Then the rest of the year was us trying to figure out when was the best time in both of our calendars to release it and it just so happened to work out during the pandemic.
The project was like your YouTube DJ tapes/visualizers FOR THE SUMMER but we actually had access to the music from you on Spotify etc.
Both of those projects like the music I make in FOR THE SUMMERS and the tracks I did for Worthy come from the same realm of like an outlet for my sampling side. Takes me back to high school days when I tried to just make beats from sampling stuff and didn’t have synthesizers. I won’t usually sample in my original music, it’s kind of a different creative process for me, it’s more of a hobby for me, kind of more like being a DJ than a producer for me.
How is Wedidt?
D33J is working really hard. We’ve got some singles coming from new artists soon, we’ve got one that I can talk about, it’s a kid called Jaxxon Silva from England who is a good friend of ours, D33J and I worked on that. New stuff coming out all the time, new clothes, you know! We’re definitely leaking shit on the Wedidit NTS. Deb Never somehow made it over to the UK, it makes no sense to me but she’s doing a lot of work over there.
I don’t know if you know our President—his name is Flume. Every day I wake up and imagine if Flume & Friends actually happened this year. That lineup was crazy. Cashmere Cat, yourself, Mura Masa, Clams Casino, SOPHIE and Toro, could you imagine?! Have you spent much time with Flume?
That was meant to happen 3 months ago. We didn’t even get a chance to even think it was doable. The whole world was cancelled. I don’t talk to anyone much but he did come out to our party the last time we had one! That was the last time I ever saw anyone actually!
Follow Shlohmo here for more, and stream his new EP Heaven Inc. below.