Creativity is boundless for Louis The Child.
Some fans may associate them with a glossy dance-pop style meshed with future bass, a sound made popular by hit tracks like “It’s Strange” and “Better Not." But there’s more than meets the eye with Louis The Child.
If their rave-inspired headline performance at Red Rocks last year was any indication, genres are fluid. They’re meant to be traversed across rather than confined within. Louis The Child's latest event, Alter-Ego, took that idea up a notch. By inviting artists to perform sets exploring left-field tastes, Alter-Ego materialized an unabashed focus on defying genres.
“We like the idea of giving artists a platform to do something different because we recognize it in ourselves and so many of our artist friends, people aren’t single-minded and enjoy playing and listening to different styles of music,” Louis The Child told EDM.com at the inaugural Alter-Ego event at Avant Gardner.
“You learn something about the artists too,” they added. “We wouldn’t have expected Pluko to do disco or Chet Porter to make techno."
Other dramatic switch-ups at Alter-Ego included a hard rock performance by deep house artist SNBRN, a drum & bass set from indietronica virtuoso DROELOE, and Taska Black straying from his dreamy pop-trap sound to deliver an hour of house music. Plus, two sets from Louis The Child, a freeform "Playground" performance and a peak-hour throwback set.
While "Playground" sets tend to pop up at Louis The Child's shows, this was the first time the tandem put together a throwback set.
“It’s the 2015 to 2018 era,” they explained. “Majority Louis The Child songs and remixes sprinkled with stuff we used to play back then and songs from that era that we really like.”
Featuring foundational future bass tracks like Mura Masa’s “Firefly” and Flume’s “Holdin’ On” alongside classic Louis The Child remixes—like those of Zella Day’s “Compass” and Miike Snow’s “Gengis Khan,"—their debut throwback set was rife with nostalgia.
"It was cool to re-approach that pocket of our music having five or six more years worth of experience playing shows and creating music,” Louis The Child reflected. “We were able to come back to all that stuff having figured out some more tricks to present it in a different way."
Yet the bellwether of Alter-Ego’s left-field explorations was a surprise reveal of the film for Louis The Child’s new project, Black Marble.
After Win & Woo finished their "Golden Age" set in Avant Gardner’s Great Hall, the stage crew rushed to clear all performance equipment. Since the lineup featured an unknown act—cryptically billed as “???” on the Alter-Ego poster—who would be performing next, a huge crowd had drawn to uncover the mystery of the surprise set. Naturally, a bare stage with nothing but a sprawling screen fixed above it had attendees scratching their heads in anticipation.
Cheers erupted as the screen lit up with text welcoming the audience to Louis The Child's their new musical endeavor, Black Marble. The duo, however, were out of sight, keeping the focus on the screen rather than themselves.
The next half-hour was an abstract audiovisual experience. Black-and-white film rolled on the screen featuring solo dance performances juxtaposed against sharp cityscapes while gritty, club-crafted music blared through the speakers.
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“We were inspired by what Kanye did with the Donda listening parties,” Louis The Child explained about the inspiration behind the surprise reveal. “We felt like the first time anyone hears this stuff should be in a big venue with a really loud speaker system, not just on headphones. It should be in the type of room it’s meant to be enjoyed in.”
This isn’t the first time Louis The Child have stitched together a bespoke audiovisual project. They’ve already released two editions of their "Candy" beat tape series, a blend of upbeat electronic music and psychedelic, landscape-focused visuals. Black Marble, however, is “distinct and opposite from 'Candy,'” they clarified. "It’s the same idea with a beat tape and visual piece but opposite in substance—black and white versus color, dark clubby gritty electronic versus warm bubbly synths."
"We look at it like a Film Noir style dance film accompanied by a new 30-minute mixtape,” Louis The Child tells us, expanding on the character of Black Marble. "It’s experimental electronic music with a darker, clubbier, European late-night vibe. Kind of like if you were in some club in Amsterdam at 3am. There’s just black-and-white strobes and everyone is sweating.”
That’s a far cry from the euphoric anthems Louis The Child are perhaps best known for.
“We make a lot of music that’s vocal-based with a full song written over it,” they noted. “Sometimes when you put too much around the vocals, it distracts. But the majority of Black Marble has no vocals in it. The production is the focus. We gravitated towards more aggressive sounds and cool rhythms that keep you dancing.”
On par with music, aesthetics are an essential element of the Black Marble experience.
“The film is all black and white, playing with contrast, shadows and darkness,” explain Louis The Child, who say Black Marble's visual direction is intended to focus on “single dance performances, pulling dancers from different cities and filming them in a cityscape."
"We did New York, Chicago, LA, Berlin, Paris, and Vancouver," they continued. "We wanted people expressing themselves through different dancing styles from hip-hop to ballerina to flow movements to footwork. We highlighted their name and city with title cards to make it feel like you’re journeying through all these cities watching these people dance."
Combining performative art with original music, Black Marble is designed to be “a world inside itself that you can sink into by watching the film, listening to the mixtape, or going to the shows.”
Perhaps the most special aspect of Black Marble, however, will be the live show experience.
“We’d really like to perform it as a film in a club anytime we do it, but we might just do DJ sets,” Louis The Child speculate. “We see it being an interesting mix between going to a movie and going to a club at the same time, somehow combining the two feelings. Dimming the lights, turning on the big screen and everyone starts dancing to the movie would be an interesting new event to go to.”
Fans looking to blend their cinema and nightclub experiences with Black Marble will have to sit tight though. Louis The Child have yet to share an official release date for the tape or any accompanying shows.
However, to allow fans to step into the musical world of Black Marble, Louis The Child dropped a SoundCloud mix of their Black Marble performance at Burning Man 2022. You can take a listen below.