Berklee Crushes on Lido

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by Lily Lyons

“I love teal—that’s img_0344my shit,” Lido says when a cheeky kid in the audience asks him what his favorite color is. Small bursts of laughter crackle through the room. We laugh not because Lido shouldn’t have a favorite color, but because his answer is so fast and specific. And because, in this moment, he feels like one of us. In some ways he isn’t far removed from a typical Berklee student, considering that he’s a twenty something who spends most of his time bent over Cubase writing songs. But the way he carries himself hints that he’s lived more ferociously than we have. He’s worked like a maniac and killed his inhibitions about making emotionally precise music, and now the world calls him that strange, illusive word: successful. The proof of his success lies in collaborations with Chance The Rapper, Halsey, and BANKs. Today, though, he’s here at David Friend to talk about the creation of something newer and more personal: his recent, spine-tingling album Everything.

At the suggestion of the moderators, Nate and Noah of the band Sleeping Lion, Lido sits down in one of the awkwardly arrayed chairs on the stage. But nobody stays seated very long, because Lido catches fire with excitement after he’s asked how his producing varies for different artists. “I try really hard not to have a sound,” he declares. For him, “being a producer is playing the instruments that are the people around you.” He becomes a chameleon, taking on the identity of the artist he is in the studio with. He resists looking at himself as a beat maker because producing isn’t fundamentally about editing snares—it’s about immersion in the artist’s world.

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As Lido’s production rant fades into bashfulness about “going all philosophical” on us, Nate and Noah shyly ask if he’s willing to open up a session from Everything on his computer. There is a soft intake of breath from the audience as Cubase loads—and then giggles when we discover that most of the tracks in “Citi Bike” are unnamed. “Messiness, for me, triggers creativity,” Lido says. I begin to question the technical rules we obsess over at Berklee: maybe I don’t need to compulsively color-code my clips by instrument, or label my routing. Maybe coolest stuff is made in the most unorganized fashion. Or maybe Lido is just a rebellious badass who doesn’t need to rely on such things.

We dive deeper into the sessions for Everything, and discover all sorts of eccentricities: samples of soda cans and hydraulics, a snippet of Halsey’s “New Americana” hidden low in the mix, and a pitched-up clip of Lido singing when he was 15. He gives production advice that is evocative, colloquial, and purposely vague like “don’t put stuff on stuff just to put stuff on stuff” and “I like combining the realness of audio with the juice of midi.” At one point he—delightfully—calls the orchestra heard in “Murder” an “80-piece squad.”

As the meandering through his sessions comes to a close, I am most struck by his fierce disregard for convention and his trust in his own intuition. “The second you start overthinking stuff you lose something,” he says, slipping back into philosophy. Though not overthinking is critical, he admits it’s hard to keep from constantly seeing ways to make things better: “my biggest weakness is potential.” I walk away from the clinic musing about his carefully built faith in himself. There’s always something a little radical about practicing self-love as a songwriter. It’s legitimately hard to feel confident about what you create, to believe in its power. But I want to get to a place where I can say, as Lido does “I make music for me. I love my shit. I bump my shit.”

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