Opening with a series of electric screams and distorted bass lines, Angelo LeRoi unleashes a rock EP drizzled in R&B and hip-hop with T.V. Dad, a project exploring the complications of divorce with “Lemonade”-esque care - all through the scope of television and the idea of the T.V. Dad, which is a lot more literal than one may initially assume. Just 11 hours after the EP’s release, LeRoi met with Berklee Groove to discuss the 10-minute phenomenon that was already making its way across the Berklee airwaves. Tapping his feet restlessly and pressed against the walls of a small practice room, he talked honestly and freely about the four-track project, rarely breaking his smile yet completely unaware of his own brilliance. In our interview, LeRoi unpacks the year and a half separating T.V. Dad from his debut effort Dirty Laundry, discussing the driving point of the album, its influences, and the musical advancements he made throughout the process while playing shows and attending school.
What is the album about?
It’s basically what’s been going on in my headspace for the last year or so. My parents split up last summer, so it’s just about what brought it to that point, how I’m dealing with it, and my opinions on what went down.
How did you develop the idea of T.V. Dad?
My dad works in television - he co-created Everybody Hates Chris. So him working in TV was just a constant thing, and that’s where the title came from. The concept of a TV dad is also a metaphor for someone who’s a father figure, but not an actual person in your life. There were times where my dad would be in Connecticut working on a show for a couple years, and we wouldn’t see him that much because he would be dealing with his own mental stuff and not completely being there mentally for us, in the same way as a TV dad.
Is T.V. Dad directed toward your mother or your father, or both of them - or is it just you talking?
It’s directed towards him, but not directly speaking to him, because through the whole process I wasn’t thinking “I need him to hear this.” I don’t know if he’s heard it. I don’t know if he knows about it - I haven't talked to him in awhile. It’s more like “I just need to say this.”
So was this EP just a way to vent, or was it musical exploration as well?
It was both. At first it was a way to vent and just get my feelings out. But I’d also been playing with some of the stuff that I did with Dirty Laundry and the other singles I put out, because they were cool, but I got into other styles of music as well. The first song I really loved playing on guitar was “Back in Black” and it made me think, “I don’t make rock music, but fuck it! I wanna make a rock album!”
Who were your influences for this project?
I was listening to Jack White and The White Stripes heavily over the summer. I love the way it’s so raw, and I kind of wanted to get back to that place of exploration, like the way I come in on the first track. I also loved the album IGOR by Tyler, the Creator, because he used aggressive sounds but not exactly in an aggressive tone. For example, the bass on “Igor’s Theme” comes in and it’s just one note for 20 seconds. Last winter all I listened to were Earl Sweatshirt’s rap songs. Conceptually, Jerrod Carmichael’s home videos where he talks about his relationship with his family were inspiring, and so was the movie Honey Boy. It’s so good! I was listening to this podcast that Shia Lebeouf (who stars in the movie) appeared on talking about the making of the movie, and I kept seeing parallels between his thought process and my thought process in making the EP.
It’s been almost two years since you released Dirty Laundry. How have your musicality and production skills grown since then?
There was definitely a lot of production growth. Dirty Laundry was the first time I learned you can get drum sounds online and then fucking use them. I was using the stock Logic drum sounds at the time, so that EP was like “Okay, this is how you kind of start making music.” I wanted the drums to only be sampled breakbeats because that’s how I saw the essence of rock music. So this summer I was taking a couple classes just with the focus of getting better - hopefully it shows! I think my sound selections and just the overall production of it all fits the emotion of the songs better than I've done before, and the aesthetic of the album as well.
How do you manage to balance production and shows while attending school?
I feel like I’ve played with fewer people than others. I’ve performed with Maya the Golden, and I did a show with Leo. The only thing that was crazy was when Maya had a few shows in a row, so it was just like rehearsals and rehearsals, but at that time I was pretty much done with the album.
Have you been doing any solo shows lately, or do you have any coming up?
I have one on Saturday at the Tourist Trap in Allston. It’s a house show. I’m playing a couple songs from the EP, and then just other covers and old songs. I don’t know when we go on but it starts at 9pm.
Do you have any more projects on the way?
I have no idea! For me, it takes a minute to get out of the energy of the project, because I don’t want my next project to sound like something I’ve done before. I like to give myself time to grow. Like maybe a future song would represent that...I learned how to play the fiddle or something.
So do you consider yourself a rock musician, or do you prefer not to limit yourself to one genre?
Neither and both. I come from a blues background, but I also play other styles and make other styles, so not exactly. I’m not a rock musician in the same way that AC/DC is a rock band, but there are elements of rock in what I do. Now we have so much more access to different pockets of information - that’s a thing I’ve just been thinking about recently. I wonder what my friends’ YouTube searches are, because I feel like your YouTube or Google searches are the things that you really enjoy. Just being able to realize, “I’m into this and also this,” and being able to pick and choose the content that you receive and that filters through your brain.