RAC alum Lofsky is making the most out of lockdown with a rapid-fire string of new releases and a brand new collab with DillanPonders. Expect fresh tracks every three weeks until the end of the year from the up-and-coming Toronto rapper.
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Lofsky 101: Cheat Sheet
Your role in the creation of your music is…
Artist, producer, engineer, writer
One piece of gear you can’t live without is…
My Apollo Twin
Favourite food from your hometown…
Can’t go wrong with a bento box from Otaru Sushi
Three favourite albums are…
Frank Ocean:Channel ORANGE, Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Future: DS2
Least favourite song by your favourite artist is…
One of my favourite artists, A$AP Rocky, doesn’t even like “Wild For the Night”- that’s my least favourite track by him
Describe your music in three words…
Different, multi-genre, experimental
“Genre-defying” is a term that gets tossed around fast and loose in music circles. I am only minutes into my pre-interview research on Toronto hip hop up-and-comer and producer Lofsky, and already I feel myself reaching for the chronically over-used phrase. The truth is, if one thing is clear from just a few minutes of streaming Lofsky’s musical output, it’s that some sort of genre-“disobeying” is definitely at play here. Lofsky’s music blends hip hop, hyper pop, R&B, and EDM elements (just to name a few) to create a diverse sound that owes as much to his early love of Led Zep as it does to more contemporary on-brand influences like Mac Miller.
Since breaking onto the scene in 2017, Lofsky–whose father is none other than jazz legend Lorne Lofsky–has wasted no time turning heads and making some high-profile associations through his music. His debut EP, 27 Club, was immediately noticed and reposted by controversial American rapper XXXTENTACION. His 2018 single “Trust Nobody”, and 2019’s full-length LP Selfish have seen the young artist work with Chicago underground stars LUCKI and Mick Jenkins and have earned him features on HotNewHipHop, Elevator and Canadian Dope.
With 2021 barely four months old, Lofsky has been keeping busy, serving up some early-career high-points with new single “Strikers” and an accompanying mixtape All or Nothing. On April 23rd, the Newmarket native drops yet another collab, “100Ways”, this time with DillanPonders. I find the prolific RAC alum just days before the “100 Ways” release for a socially distanced chat about his creative process, next steps and giving back through music.
RAC: Your music seems to draw on a wide range of genres and influences, sometimes within the same song. Tell us a bit about those influences and how they’ve changed over the years.
LOFSKY: My earliest influences were Tyler, The Creator and the rest of Odd Future, Mac Miller, and Frank Ocean. I started making music in high school and grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Green Day, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Bill Evans and The Beatles. Over the years, I’ve expanded and now listen to pretty much everything for inspiration and to experiment with genre and song structure. I have my own sound now and don’t try to sound like anybody else, but I pull influences from everywhere. It could be a scene I really dug in Ozark, a flip I liked in a Travis Scott song, or a conversation that opens up doors for me and makes me reflect on personal moments in my life.
RAC: Can you give us a few examples of how the stuff you listen to now might affect your work.
LOFSKY: It depends on my mood. Sometimes I need to listen to pop songs to get ideas for beats, or I’ll play some indie to come up with different chord progressions or dig for samples to rip. I make music every day, and a lot of what I do is freestyling with heavy auto-tune, which allows me to test if a beat fits and find melodies I like, and I go from there. I love bringing dance music into a more modern take on alternative trap. But it really depends on the session and how the person I’m working with is feeling that day. Whatever we create, I want it to be something we’re all proud of and contributed to.
RAC: When did you first realize that music was something that you wanted to pursue?
LOFSKY: I’ve known since high school, but while I was pursuing music and finishing up at RAC, I got pressured into going back to university. I was doing a journalism degree while still trying to put out high-quality content regularly. In my last two years of the degree, I knew that my heart just wasn’t in journalism at all, and I never wanted to have a regular life. From there, I’ve just been levelling up. My roommate and best friend, bowzy, has helped me so much over the years by pushing me harder and helping me fix my branding. I started taking music seriously in 2018, and from last year to now, I’ve put tons of videos and recorded hundreds of songs, and I refuse to slow down.
RAC: What is it about hip hop that attracts you to it? What do you feel you bring to the genre?
LOFSKY: I like how flexible hip hop is. I sometimes struggle to label the tracks I have coming out because they’ve got rap, hyper pop elements, EDM elements, R&B and more, all blended in one. What I bring to the genre and any genre I work on is just something different. I’m authentic and try to bring the good, bad, and ugly parts of myself into my freestyling and writing process. The industry needs people to keep pushing music and culture forward, and that’s what I’m trying my best to do.
RAC: You’ve been releasing music consistently since 2017. What aspect of the musical landscape speaks to you the most? Writing, recording…
LOFSKY: All of it. Sometimes I don’t want to work on my own stuff, so it’s nice to produce or engineer for others. Writing for others can be really fun too. I just always want to be involved and useful in every session I go to. Whatever way I can help, I’m down to do.
RAC: Can you give us a glimpse of what your creative process looks like these days?
LOFSKY: When I’m working in my studio, my creative process usually starts with making a beat from scratch or finding a nice sample that I can add some melodies and drums to. Then, I load it up the right way and freestyle whatever melodies and flows come to mind. From there, I usually do punch-ins or, if I get stuck, write some bars. Then, once the song is all recorded with my doubles, additional layers and adlibs, I go back and switch up the beat to make it interesting. If someone sends me a hard beat, sometimes I can punch in the whole thing in 30 minutes. Sometimes, I don’t like what I did on a track, but I know that I’m working on something special, so I keep going back to it ’til it’s right. It changes depending on how fast everything comes to me that day. Also, I love it when other people are in the studio with me and throw me a bar or a melody that’s hard. When I’m stuck, it’s the best. The more ideas, the better.
RAC: What is the most significant impact your education in music production has brought to your work. Is it purely technical prowess?
LOFSKY: It helped everything, honestly. I work pretty fast once I get rolling, so I think that and the confidence to mix and master my work was important. I did all my soundproofing based on what I learned in school. My approach to structuring, mixing, recording, and mastering has all been influenced by school. I think something important to mention, though, is that learning never stops. I learn so much in sessions with different producers, artists, and engineers who use different DAWs and look at music from a different perspective.
RAC: What are your goals as a musician? Do you have a specific intention for your music?
LOFSKY: I have a lot of goals, and I feel I’ll achieve them when I’m supposed to, God willing. I want to get signed when I have enough leverage. I want platinum records for my own music and for the work that I’ve produced and written for other artists. I don’t think I’ll be recording vocals 20 years from now, but I’ll always be producing, writing, engineering and helping others create.
My intention with my music is to give people someone to turn to when they’re hurting. I want to give back and focus on helping people struggling with mental health and addiction issues. I feel the happiest when I’m having a shitty day and hearing one of my songs pumps me up and pulls me out of that mood. That’s when I know I’m doing something right. I want anyone tuning in to feel like they’re winning or growing when they play my tracks, or at least to relate and get some clarity.
RAC: Tell us about your new track, “100 Ways.” How did this collaboration come about?
LOFSKY: I recorded the track a couple of months ago and sent the demo over to Dillan in March. He and I are both Toronto artists that do things a bit differently. It was really easy working with him over text to switch up the beat and mix it down. I like what he did on it, and I think it’s going to perform really well.
RAC: Did anyone help you out along the way in your journey as an artist? Anyone specific you want to give a shoutout to?
LOFSKY: So many people have helped me out, but I definitely need to give a shoutout to bowzy, all my boys over at Prescribed Shelter, Nt Visuals, and everyone who’s ever tuned in, worked with me or supported me along the way.
RAC: You’ve started 2021 with a lot of new music. Got anything else planned for the rest of the year?
LOFSKY: Around the end of the month, I’m dropping a video for “Memories, featuring jetsetforevr from my recent mixtape “All or Nothing.” I’m releasing a single called “LAX” in May with another visual, and from there, I’ll most likely release new singles every three weeks ’til the end of the year. Some of the best music I’ve ever created is dropping this year with lots of visuals. I’m trying to just go as hard as I can during the pandemic, since I can’t fly out to LA to network yet.
Illustration by Malaika Astorga