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Few producers thrive on sonic dichotomy as much as Jerome LOL. In fact, you could say his ability to contradict himself in every track is a big part of why we like him. The titles of some of his recently released tracks—"Forever/Never," "Happy/Sad," "Dawn/Dusk"—reflect his compulsion to mesh together warring parts of his personality into a well-choreographed flurry of blips, beeps, samples and head-bobbing psychedelics. His work is sweet and symphonic, murky and ambient, blustering and minimalist. In a lot of ways, his eclectic need to have it all in one song is emblematic of his California (specifically, LA) upbringing. On any given day in this state, you can commute from city to city and come across a multitude of emotions, backdrops and temperatures.
"There are so many different aspects of California, but there still is an intangible California feeling that connects everything," he says. "I think the space, the weather and the overall vibe really influence the type of music I have been making." Despite roving all over the Golden State for years, it was in SoCal where the artist born Jerome Potter began delving into music. Growing up, he listened to '80s music on his parents' car stereos, ingesting the easy-to-love, rock-god acts of his generation, plus FM power-pop acts such as Weezer. In the beginning, everything was just a hobby. It wasn't until a break during college that he moved on to tinkering around with the music program Ableton Live, learning to create and craft with nothing but his laptop.
Potter met Canadian Markus Garcia via an online forum, and in 2008, they began collaborating as LOL Boys, no easy feat considering the almost 3,000 miles separating them. Thanks to that successful pairing, Potter attained enough exposure to lay down a foundation for an online fan base off the strength of tracks such as "Changes," which quickly lit up the blogosphere. What initially had been "a kind of experiment in collaborating over the Internet" was now a creative muscle recognized by tastemakers such as FADER, Pitchfork and XLR8R.
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Upholding a workable creative process through borders and boundaries proved to be difficult to manage, though; it wasn't too long after their online breakthrough the LOL Boys amicably split. "We had a really great journey during the past four years, but the long-distance thing was really hard, and we felt we had accomplished our goals during the project," Potter says.
Immediately following the "indefinite hiatus" of his collective project with Garcia, Potter didn't waste any of the buzz he accumulated. He continued pushing out new releases, racked up tons of performances, and maintained his presence through online interviews and social media.
Now, he has a full-fledged career of his own and co-runs the dance-music label Body High alongside friend and like-minded colleague Samo Sound Boy. To date, he has four two-part original productions to his credit and a label with 10 releases this year alone. His own work seems to represent almost every facet of modern music relevant to his side of the Pacific and the world at large, and his label has released songs indebted to everything from U.K.-based bass to more homegrown flavors such as house and southern crunk.
His releases unfold as though they were tailor-made for long drives down an empty interstate, and he says he loves taking a finished product and just "driving around aimlessly" as it plays. When it comes to creating music, Potter says, the mad-scientist part of his craft leads him in unexpected directions. Look no further than his own description of the sound that erupts from his laptop. "Mix pop, house, jazz and some tears in a blender," he says. "Pour it in an empty Top Ramen cup, then put the cup in a microwave and hit popcorn." Sounds like a recipe for success.
This article appeared in print as "Golden State of Mind: Jerome LOL makes beats designed for a wandering California road trip."