Setting the Vibe with LOHM
Welcome to the 13th edition of the IMF Artist Profile, a series dedicated to the Indie Music Feedback community. The goal of this series is to take a look at the personal lives of some of IMF’s biggest contributors, giving you a peek into who they are as human beings. We’ll pull back the curtain as far as our guests allow and hopefully we will all walk away with a better understanding of the music these individuals are creating as we learn more about them.
Mixmaster and beatmaker LOHM was born in Decatur, Georgia. A town just 5 miles from downtown Atlanta, itself being one of the most prolific areas of origin for modern hip hop artists. Thomas, the man behind LOHM, moved to Hollywood, Florida where he now lives with his girlfriend Kristi, their black lab Kurt and his bunny Kira. In between his full-time job of managing restaurant technology for NCR, Thomas also keeps himself educated on new technology as both a hobby and in his music production. His passion for production is matched by his interest in videography and creating his own content. Something you might not know about Thomas, his face is hidden on thousands of fast-food computers across the nation.
LOHM’s expertise on the backend of music production is some of the absolute best I have seen in IMF. His collaborations and remixes give me chills and his original beats are unique and nuanced. “Unforgettable featuring Flora Linn” is one of my favorite tracks from LOHM’s library because it emphasizes his ability to accentuate Flora’s already phenomenal vocals with every beat and bop of this track. His use of space lends so well to the style Flora naturally sings with. You can clearly hear that he’s crafted something to suit her style, instead of shoehorning a vocalist into a beat he created. Each track in his library works in a similar way, they all have their own identity. Today we’re going to learn more about LOHM’s remix process, his thoughts on videography, as well as how he puts himself into the creative mindset.
Now onto the questions:
Baaz: As a huge fan of your music myself, I find that my absolute favorite projects that I’ve seen/heard you create come from remixes or collaborations. I think you have an uncanny talent for pulling the best out of other people in one way or another. Does that resonate with you? Do you prefer creating something with or for someone else as opposed to starting from scratch on your own?
LOHM: Firstly, Thank you for listening! In one of the bands I was in, way back in the day, I shrugged the title “rhythm guitarist/backup vocals” and instead, insisted I was the “song assistant”. I wanted to play anything I could in service to the song. That could mean guitar, or it could mean synth, or may even just mean playing the triangle. Whatever the song needed. Songwriting has never been a strength of mine, but once an idea for a song exists, I can start hanging all my ideas on that, and that’s usually when my ideas flow the most easily. In both remixes and collabs, I get a chance to not worry about “what comes after this section” and instead get to focus on what production wizardry might help highlight the emotion of the song.
Baaz: Can you offer some advice or tips to anyone looking to get started with remixes? Can you describe how you get started or how do you break down the original?
LOHM: I don’t think you need to have an idea of what the outcome will be going into it. I usually will go in with few (if any) ideas, and will start by turning on just the vocals (if there are any) and play with different drum or synth ideas against that. Once you can get a direction for the remix, the rest of the parts will usually come easily.
Baaz: Listening to your library of music, there are so many variations in style and genre that you’ve covered. If you had to pin yourself to a specific style of music what would you want to produce? What is the most difficult genre to produce that you enjoy dabbling in?
LOHM: I’ve struggled with that question for years. “What is the Lohm sound?”. The best I’ve been able to narrow down to is “Big and Dark”. It could have elements of hip hop, rock, and EDM, but it would always need to sound huge and intimidating. As far as difficult genres, I’ve tried a few times to write dubstep tracks, but between the crazy amount of sound design it takes to make top-notch basses, and the hyper-paced cuts and edits, I’ve learned that I’ll just leave it to the pros.
Baaz: You’ve mentioned a passion for videography. Are you currently working on any music videos? What are some of your favorite music videos?
LOHM: I haven’t been focusing as much on the video side of things as much recently, mostly due to how busy IMF has kept me with making music. I’m still sitting on a large collection of random video footage I captured when I was traveling for work almost every week. I’m still hoping to use them all for a full-length album/mixtape that has been mostly sitting dormant while I find vocalists for all the songs. The idea for that came from a “mixtape visualizer” by Flume that I have been obsessed with since it came out. The way it seems less about following a subject and more just playing with different visual styles really inspired me. Fair warning, it’s an album long video.
Another favorite of mine is “Ratchet” by Bloc Party, which was assembled by Cyriak Harris using previous music videos from the band. The way he bends them all into something new is mesmerizing. It’s like a video remix/mashup.
Check out LOHM’s own video creations here!
Baaz: Some people change the lighting in the room, or set a vibe for themselves to get into the music mindset…When you create, what are some things you do to prepare yourself mentally?
LOHM: Aside from changing the color of the lights (usually to blue), the most effective trick for me is to do some cleaning beforehand. Most importantly, you are cleaning for the space you are working in, but also just cleaning in general. In the same way that walking is good for creativity because your brain likes an easy task to do while it thinks of bigger things, cleaning gets your blood flowing at least more than it will be when you sit down in front of your computer to create. Go put on a banger and do the dishes!
Baaz: If you find yourself stuck on a track, what are some of the best ways to get you past the block?
LOHM: Mute what you think are the most important parts. I had an epiphany a few years back when working on a song with a friend. I had heard him sing the song with just an acoustic guitar for a few years at that point, and we were finally recording it. I started building all my sounds around his guitar and vocals, but eventually, the song felt totally uninspired. The big breakthrough came when I muted that acoustic guitar and listened to everything else. It’s really easy to get stuck in thinking certain parts of a song are set in stone, but hearing what things sound like without them might help take things in a new direction.
Baaz: What is Hollywood, Florida like? Describe your best Florida Man story.
LOHM: I love it here. The city has gone through a bunch of dramatic changes. It started as a spot for the wealthy, and over the years has had plenty of economic shifts, but at some point, it became kind of a hub for the arts community. In a 30 min bike ride, you can pass by million dollar mansion, junk car lots, and a park with free glass blowing lessons.
One of my favorite stories happened a few months after I moved away in 2000. An older gentleman had been picked up in an ambulance and taken to the hospital. When they arrived, he hopped out of the back and proceeded to stab a paramedic with a plastic spoon. I like to imagine that he ran away screaming “Not today, ya bastards” before disappearing back to his hiding spot.