Producer and artist Lil Lofi creates ambient soundscapes from his home studio in Dubai. After a string of recent releases that have already amassed impressive streaming numbers online, we caught an interview with the creative to find out more about the music, his journey so far, and his plans for the future. Here’s how it went.
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Hey, great to chat with you – thanks for your time! For those new to your work, how would you describe the Lil Lofi approach to creativity?
I feel like whenever I start on a project, there always has to be something new – whether it be a small improvement or a completely different sound. I am the type of artist to always try something new to improve the sound that I have been making.
What first inspired or prompted you to start making original music?
Many factors led me to start making music but, the main ones would be that during the lockdown season in Dubai, I had a bunch of free time and two of my friends were already making music on Soundcloud in which I felt like I could follow their steps and try and learn how to make music.
I would start just making those “slowed and reverb” remixes you’d see on youtube, however I would start to love making Lofi music after being introduced to a song by a friend (the song being from the lofi artist “Ambulo”). That song I had listened to crafted that love for Lofi music I have today, the song felt calm and relaxing, and to create something that can help relax people would be an achievement for someone like me.
Your name effectively suggests the vibe of your sound, though there’s an ambient, melodic journey to be appreciated in every case – individual threads that build identity. How do you craft your tracks, what comes first – idea, melody, mood – and is there organic musicianship involved, away from the desk?
When creating a new album or project I always focus on the overall meaning first, every album has its meaning and I try to present that meaning in as many ways possible – whether it be the cover art or the song names.
To give an example, one of my albums Tallinn was focused on a city that I have always dreamed of going to, however I also tried to create this love story where a person has recently lost the person that they loved, in which the song names start from a person being in denial by calling their past a “boring love story” to then slowly feeling better at the end. I do focus heavily on melodies and the overall mood of the song, however I would like to prefer focusing on the meaning of a project.
How do you know when a piece is ready to be released?
For every project I produce there are always many steps I use to ensure that what I make is to the best of its quality. There are many last-minute changes I’ve had to make over the years. For that piece to be ready to make public I always think to myself if that piece has a clear meaning and a calming or relaxing sound.
Nostalgic is superb, a personal favourite that seems to lean towards the trip-hop legends of a simpler era. How did this one come about?
The making of the track Nostalgic was more focused on if I and my friend “m0skito” should try and create a new lofi sound. We both knew that the song needed to have a Nostalgic feel, thus we did everything we could to make it sound that way whether it be the jazz-focused melody or the background vocals. It was something new at the time for both of us.
You’ve amassed some impressive streaming numbers for an underground producer, what have been the main steps you’ve taken that have helped you reach a broader audience?
Focusing on how to market or promote a project has helped with reaching out to a broader audience. Focusing promotion on specific areas that have the most amount of lofi listeners is vital for reaching out to an audience.
Learning how to market yourself is another step I found valuable, you may have the best music talent in the world but if you don’t know how to market yourself to other people/companies you won’t be as famous as you would have thought. I have had many opportunities to work with different people which has helped me grow as a musician.
What have been some of the best moments for you in your recent years as an artist?
I think that the best moment that happened to me is my overall growth as a musician, from being a Soundcloud failure to then growing into an artist I never thought I would be and thankfully there are many years still to come in the future, so who knows what lies ahead.
Conversely, what’s been the hardest obstacle to overcome, and do you have any advice you could offer to new starters, based on what you’ve learned?
I know this may sound cliche but the hardest obstacle is being told almost all the time by different people that you’ll never make it in this industry or you’re a failure in music. Over time it does take a toll on your willingness to make music and if I had to give advice to any newcomers to this industry it is that you are better off ignoring the people who try to bring you down; take criticism as a way to improve your music.
Do your personal experiences pour through in your music, and if so, is this a therapeutic process?
For every album I make, I tend to pour as much of my personal experience in as possible because it helps calm me down for whenever I go through certain events that happen in my life. So to answer your question, I do find my music to be a therapeutic process.
What’s the music scene like in Dubai for this kind of sound?
From my personal experience, I can say that there aren’t any lofi musicians here in Dubai other than me. The music scene in Dubai is completely different from others. To describe the music scene in Dubai it’s either you are a singer that gets shadowed by singers in other places or you are a Travis Scott wannabe (basically your generic SoundCloud rapper). The other musicians who don’t fit in those two categories are barely recognized – hopefully I change that categorization to give a more level playing field to other musicians.
What’s a live show from Lil Lofi set to be like, and how does it feel to perform these tracks live when compared to the more intimate process of writing and recording in private?
I don’t really see myself ever performing my songs, I see it more as music that is listened to privately for others to help relax.
Can you tell us something that fans might be surprised to hear about you?
A couple of months ago, I was part of a pop-punk band for a couple of weeks as I would always want to create a band, unfortunately, that band project would die down as a result of most of the members not caring about it.
I’ve been looking to create another band since however, this has been a challenge due to the lack of musicians who would like to be in a band. I also had a brief career as a rapper in the alternative punk lofi hip-hop genre.
If you could sit down for a chat with anyone at all, past or present, whom would you choose, and what would you ask them about?
Billie Joe Armstrong from the band “Green Day” and I would talk about how his experiences in the music industry have led him to be one of the most well-known musicians.
What’s next for you?
Focus on developing other albums and my music skills overall. also focusing on marketing my up-and-coming album Memories From The Past.
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Check out Lil Lofi on Instagram.