mixing high art and the street with music collective last night in paris
With ten core members in three countries and a keen appetite for collaboration, Last Night in Paris is a DIY Renaissance crew for the 21st century.
"We're city boys," says Jordon Wi-Fi, a member of London-based, conceptual hip hop/R&B/et al. collective Last Night in Paris. In their case, "city" is a euphemism for "global." With ten core members in three countries and a keen appetite for collaboration (look out for a couple new female vocalists this year), LNIP is a DIY Renaissance crew for the 21st century. They're artists without borders, mixing mediums and eschewing genre conventions in favor of playing by the rules of innately sophisticated personal preference. "We get a lot of our influence from visual aesthetics and vibes and try to cross translate and interpret visual as audio and vice versa," they tell us. This dynamic is apparent in their recent collaboration with Swiss filmmaker Karim Huu Do on Pure, a trippy, pastoral gothic music video that previews their eponymous forthcoming EP. We spoke to them about flow, street smarts, and their last night in Paris.
How have you managed to fly beneath the radar for so long?
One of our major secrets is that we know the power of the word 'no.' We understand the slow and steady route; the quicker you rise, the quicker you fall. We've said no a hundred more times than we've said yes, and we've purposely kept low until we felt we had a project that represents us fully. This Pure [EP] is the closest we've been in our history.
Do you all have different arts backgrounds, or do most people bring musical skills?
Everybody has their own arts background. Christian Newell taught himself how to paint, Thomas Cardiff taught himself how to tattoo. The singers are self-taught. Taurean Roye has a fine art and illustration background. Jordon has a background in sculpting, and taught himself how to use Final Cut in one evening. We're like a hub of creative learning; we're always teaching and showing and bouncing ideas between us so we're all pretty clued up.
You all seem to have a streamlined style, favouring the color black. Does LNIP have a shared sense of fashion?
We've been living with each other for three or four years so we share a lot of inspiration and we're all very similar people, so yeah, our styles definitely overlap. Black is just a colour that can't die or go out of fashion and we respect that. We've been working on our own line for two years and have been holding it back until it's completely ready.
You've collaborated with Karim Huu Do and MNEK, and have named FKA Twigs and Sam Smith as people with which you'd like to collaborate. Is such a collaboration in the works?
We've worked with MNEK in the past, and a lot more people are coming into the game at a more creative angle so we're becoming more open to fucking with people. Obviously there are the Kanyes, Drakes and Pharrells who we'd love to collaborate with, and hopefully will in the future, but there's also a lot of low-key coming-up artists that we want to work with.
Can we assume that your name is based on a memorable last night in Paris?
People have tried hundreds of angles to try to get us to hint at the meaning but we're keeping it hush. There are members in the team that don't even know what it means and have been begging for years to find out. We'll reveal it one day in the grand tell-all book or the Last Night in Paris movie or when we're sitting with Piers Morgan explaining our story and all our secrets.
LNIP is said to "[fuse] high art with street smarts." Do you agree?
Information is a lot easier to get ahold of than it was in the past. Back then if you wanted to be about that high art life you'd have to dig and study and really break it down and understand it. People claim they know art because they have a tumblr and follow some sort of fashion blog, or they have an Instagram and follow someone who posts 'artistic' pictures and whatnot, but they've never studied it or actually know about it with any measurable depth. It's a lot of pretence and facade. We've come from that, we've been doing it for a very long time as individuals before the collective even existed.
Do you have any upcoming shows planned?
We've got a secret show/party on January 22nd, and i-D magazine is invited. It's something we're gonna do in the new year for some of the fans and our friends. We'll play some good music, party, preview some new tracks. It's gonna be a fun night.
Text Hannah Ghorashi
Images courtesy Last Night in Paris