A couple of months ago, PressPLAY happened to chance upon an email in our inbox, which on a normal day resembles cat litter in quality. A certain Cristian Gomez had put forward some songs from Miami outfit The LOFT, his double-act with producer Jose Machin. Given our stamp of approval on their album (released for free, go download it), it was clear their take on alternative R&B resonated quite strongly with us – echoes of the Weeknd aside, it’s a pretty deep and devastating account of a love gone wrong. We don’t half love a broken heart – like most blogs, we find nourishment in pain – so we decided to catch up with Gomez to talk about the duo’s, er, lofty aspirations.
For the unenlightened who don’t read PressPLAY, tell us who the LOFT is, what you are, what you want to be, and why you want to be it.
We are Cristian Gomez and Jose Machin; an alternative/experimental R&B duo from Miami, Florida. We dig the music we make, and we’re happy in the direction we’re heading.
Important question: Did you watch the VMAs? What did you think?
We did, they were pretty dope; good performances. I don’t usually like Gaga but she did a good job kicking it all off; it’s nice to see Kanye perform one of those heartbreak songs with autotune, seeing as how 808’s was a big influence on me. Drake killed it by starting off with “Hold On….” and Bruno Mars showcased crazy vocal ability with his performance; but goddamn, Justin Timberlake tore everyone down, man’s a straight legend and one of my biggest influences, absolutely insane performance from the solo to the brief NSYNC’ reunion. The fact that he was recognised properly throughout the night was good, but of course with every year comes disagreement, many awards were handed to people I thought shouldn’t have won but it’s all good.
[PressPLAY would like to think that the LOFT are, like us, wondering what on earth a Macklemore is and why it’s doing so well.]
Also, two gorgeous women I’m extremely fond of performed, Ariana Grande’s voice made the pre-show, and Katy Perry ended it in a good way. Oh shit, and Miley; what the fuck was that?
[Here we go.]
We’re all for the bad bitch persona, and I do think you look good sometimes but that whole performance was horrible, also not a fan of how she looked; Robin Thicke’s performance was chillin’ though, but like most of the people in the audience the whole twerk thing made us uncomfortably.
[Clearly the LOFT have not read our very thoughtful opinion piece on the matter.]
Anyway. Back to (sort of) more important things. Why “The LOFT”?
Well in our time, and in this “hipster” culture, there are many cool things, and many stupid things; LOFTs being cool once more is something I agree with: we’re open with people, we put it all in the music, there are no walls between our tracks, and no gaps in our stories, we are one large room with everything in it. I’m working on moving into one actually, in downtown Miami, I pass by it everyday; it’s about a block away from my workplace and it’s such a dope building, and the way they look; the potential lust of such an open space is intriguing to me.. Modern living environments while playing modern music, drinking a glass of cognac; with the blinds down, and a few candles lit. That is “The LOFT”.
[PressPLAY has yet to come across such a varied description of band name etymology. Of course, we daren’t tell them that in the UK we call a loft an ‘attic’, and we certainly don’t want to mention the fate of Alisha’s Attic.]
The record, which we love, is deeply personal. What was it like putting all that out there? Anything you kept back?
Frightening, yet liberating. It’s a weird thing ’cause music is almost a time machine, something that takes you less than an hour to listen to describes a year in my life. It’s a scary thing having such feelings out there, it’s vulnerability. There’s a reason most people keep diaries private, it scares them. This is my diary for a period of my life, but also the fear of showing so much, and wearing my heart on my sleeve kept me from feeling depressed, or angry. These songs were therapy; so thinking on a positive note, if people are dealing with similar tormented loves, or destructive romances, you could relate, and maybe following the story and seeing someone overcome such pain could help. Some things just can’t be said in such a public way, the album wears a veil – you can see the face through it but every single detail is not there, ’cause that could get controversial and honestly, very uncomfortable.
That’s pretty heavy. We read that you have enough material for two more albums. What’s the plan here?
We do, we’re done with our second album. We’re working on some pre-production for that, and should be heading into the studio by the end of the year, no release date yet. And while we’re working on that we’re wrapping up our third album, which is the craziest production we’ve ever done, Jose is going absolutely mad with talent, and pushing out these amazing compositions. We write a lot, and we make songs all the time, it’s just organic; it’d be a shame to hold such a thing back, so we’re constantly writing. I guess, look forward to two more albums; that is the only thing you can be sure of.
[PressPLAY is very excited about this. Longevity and forward-planning make us moist, as they should any record label with a lick of sense. Speaking of which…]
What about labels and interest on that front?
We have a love for Republic Records, that’s where a lot of my favorite artists are; I think that’d be an amazing fit for us as well. We’re still independent, we’ve had some indie labels reach out, but other than that it hasn’t been something we’ve put our souls into. We may start campaigning on that frontier more, but we’re interested in being signed someday if the deal benefits us. We’re not looking to be indie, hipster artists; I’d like to be a little bigger than that, only because with that security you can focus more on the music, you can make this a living when money is not issue. Money runs the world, we’re trying to be successful.
We’re beginning to think this new wave of R&B is getting a bit saturated. Lots of pubescent wailing from the blokes in particular. Your thoughts?
I don’t think so, I mean yes; people do tend to follow a trend, but that’s kind of hard when the trends aren’t set in stone. For example Solange and AlunaGeorge, poppier tunes that still take part in the new wave of R&B… comparing them to darker R&B acts sticks out like a sore thumb. You have the infusion of future bass, and hipster house with R&B vocals, revivals of old sounds, 80’s synths, guitars, saxophones, there’s still so much more to do. Jessie Ware is completely different from JMSN, The Weeknd relatively different to Frank Ocean, How To Dress Well and Active Child won’t be featured on a Jeremih track; Justin Timberlake, the fact that his sound is still incredibly relevant to our world sticks truth to modern R&B diversity. As far as us, we’re going to make sure we don’t get as many comparisons with all of our future work.
How do you think the LOFT can stand out from everyone else?
I feel we already do, I don’t think I sound like anyone as far as my voice; on our debut album, most of the songs are in different keys, which causes my voice to sound different throughout the album, most artists don’t fuck around changing keys; our backgrounds in music give us diversity. I feel we go about things a different way, I feel I talk about subjects differently as far as our lyrics go. Stories are crucial to me, most of our work is based on concepts; conceptual albums are usually what I bring to the table, at least I’ve done so with our first three LOFT projects. We’ve gotten influences from artists we love, and amazingly enough I feel we fail at sounding like anyone other than ourselves. And that’s a blessing.
Amen. So – dull dull dull question – who were your influences? Not just for this record, but growing up too.
Too many, there’s too much music we listen to. Jose’s influence in production, Clams Casino. That’s his main dude. Also Shlohmo, Illangelo, the Donkey Pitch label, Ryan Hemsworth, Jamie XX and Holy Other. For myself, my fellow peers in the R&B world, Justin Timberlake, Usher, The Weeknd, JMSN, Drake, Active Child, Frank Ocean…. Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, many other legends. I’ve been into a lot of music, I’ve been heavily influenced by rock music most of my life, and R&B/Soul as far as vocals.
[PressPLAY would very much enjoy more Phil Collins references in modern R&B.]
Anyone you’re listening to these days that you’re mad keen on?
Some big albums are coming out soon, you have Drake and The Weeknd dropping material next month, we’re interested in that because we have to keep up with our world – they’re competition so we need to know what we’re dealing with, and as music listeners, we’re fans so that plays into it as well. Banks is a young artist, and her new song is one of our favorites of the year. I’m waiting for Active Child, and JMSN’s new stuff. Basically, right now we’re keeping an eye on our world. Keeping up with the movement.
If you had the chance, who would you want to support on tour?
Justin Timberlake, that’d be crazy; that man’s a king. Other than that, I’d love to tour with Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Active Child, JMSN, The Weeknd, James Blake, and Miguel, Childish Gambino. They’d all be cool to be on the road with. Honestly, with a tour comes the opportunity to be heard by a different fan base, more people, and that will make any tour dope. But those are just a few names.
Speaking of tours, are you taking the LOFT on the road soon?
We’re currently working on our live show, it needs to be impeccable, absolutely amazing and as on point as we can make it. So getting equipment, and figuring out how each song should be performed, as well as visuals, and what makes a good LOFT show. First comes the hometown, within the next few months we’ll be looking at Miami shows. If we’re handed an opportunity to travel elsewhere, and it’s beneficial for us to do so, we’ll begin around the U.S and hopefully be successful enough to go abroad, that’d be a dream come true, traveling to different places, seeing different cultures and people so much more different than ourselves fuck with us enough to come see us.
Because we’re evil and we’re putting you on the spot – who would you hate to support on tour? Which current acts REALLY turn you off?
Anyone who’s too different from us, but people close to us, Chris Brown; he seems like he’d be a fucking pain, other than that any ego maniacal artist who acts like a diva.
Just when we thought we couldn’t love you more. The LOFT – thank you.