23 Feb Lit Lords Are Students of the Game
Lit Lords Are Students of the Game
By Danielle Ilag
*This interview is older and was in our Issue 67 magazine.
Isiah Anderson and Wade Hampton are the American duo, Lit Lords. With roots in heavy metal and R&B, Lit Lords is certainly taking the new generation of electronic dance music to the next level. They are at the forefront of the emergence of hard trap. This fierce, energetic, upbeat, soulful, rhythm and heavy genre is keeping their music distinctly different in the best way possible. Their notably fresh sounds mixed with their unrivaled energy and technical finesse are keeping Lit Lords at the front line of bringing a best-in-class show of entertainment to crowds.
How was music a part of your life growing up? What was your childhood like?
Music was a big part of my life growing up. I started off playing the guitar. That was the first instrument that I learned how to play. I taught myself because I would listen to AC/DC and Lamb of God.
Music always spoke to me differently. Eventually, I started making music on Ableton Live and the rest is history. Somebody once told me that I should record myself playing music because I would do a lot of stuff in GarageBand then one day I decided I want to take this to the next level.
How did you and Wade get together as a duo?
We were both in the wrong place at the wrong time. The first time I ever met Wade, we were playing at a club on Halloween. As a matter of fact, when I showed up, there was nobody at this club. I’m not anybody, he’s not anybody. We’re just two guys who had a mutual person who booked a show that day. I had to be in my freshman year of high school.
He previously had a group that he was in and one day his partner didn’t show up so as we’re sitting there, Wade said, “Grab this mic and be the MC out here.” I had been making music for a couple of years at that point, but after that show, when we were talking, he gave me his number and said call me tomorrow. I called him tomorrow and the rest is history.
How and why did you two come up with the name Lit Lords?
Well, I used to be in these Facebook Messenger groups all the time and this guy would always call me Lit Lords because I was making trap music and everybody else was making house music. I disappeared from that group for like some months and I came back and I was Lit Lords.
Who were your biggest mentors growing up and why? How did they influence you to make the music you want to produce?
I’d say it’s Wade. Wade has always been like a bigger brother to me. Just like an Uncle, he takes care of me. He’s always had my back because he’s older than me so he’s been through a lot more of life.
When I met him he was just about to get married and he had already had a kid, so he’s already lived through a lot of stuff. I’ve been able to avoid a lot of the mistakes and time wasted in his life because he’s been there to sit there and guide me.
How would you describe your music without using any genres?
Fierce, energetic, upbeat, soulful, rhythm, and heavy.
As one of the few artists whose music truly speaks to my soul, what motivates you to create something new and fresh?
Honestly, that’s all I’ve tried to do is to make something that’s different. I’ve never been the biggest fan of dance music because there’s not a lot of hard music. I like more artists similar to Flying Lotus, old music of the ’90s, and hip-hop stuff like that. I’ve always had an eclectic taste. I always try to make music first in my music, if that makes any sense. That kind of creates an avenue to bring something new to the table.
I might hear something on my run in the morning and realize it’s a cool intro or something. I like to listen to and create something that you can listen to five years from now and say you know, I still like this because it’s music. It’s not going to get old.
How does your music style differ from what your music sounded like when you first began producing?
It’s gotten much, much, much, much better. I’ve never had a teacher. All through high school and college I would just sit on my computer and work on music. I’ve always been a student of the game. I want to lead by example because there’s a global community out here. There’s a lot of people who want to set the standard for what’s going to come after.
My music involves a lot of song structure. Your song idea of workflow. Being able to go through weird phases as your life is just based on stuff that you’re listening to at the moment. I’ve learned that you have to go through those phases to figure out things. Also, being able to reference your work off of people whose work you believe sounds really good and you just get to that level and go past it.
What do you think was your biggest struggle to get to where you two are today? How did you both overcome this?
When I was in college at Texas Christian University, I thought I was going into the military. I did ROTC all four years in high school. I had all these scholarships to go and do ROTC and then I also ran track. My dad is the head Track and Field coach at TCU. So when I went there, I went there to run.
Once I decided I wanted to make music, I was in a weird situation because there were all these obstacles in my way. At first, my dad was my biggest hater, but he still bought me CDJ’s back in the day. Now he’s my biggest supporter, but it was one of those things where you don’t know how it’s going to go, how you’re going to make a living off of this, how this is going to get you healthcare, houses, all these different things.
But I had to throw those obstacles out of the way. And I remember, I’ll never forget the turning point for me. We had ROTC and we were going to the field. No phones, no nothing. You just take your gear, you’ve got your M16 rifle, and you’re out in the field. And I was like you know what, I’m doing something different. I was sitting there and I said man, screw this. I’m done with this.
I don’t know what happened. I think something just snapped in me and I decided I’m done. With my life, I’m going to do what I want to do now and because I’ve always done sports my entire life. I’ve always been doing something very structured. And I remember the ROTC guy called me and was like Anderson, where you at Anderson?! You better get your ass out here. I said I’m done. I had to push those obstacles aside to take a bet on myself and things are nowhere where I’d like them to be today, but this is a process. Now I have fewer obstacles in my way to do what I want to do.
What is your process like when creating a song?
The process always stems from a musical idea. I write music from left to right. When I start a song, I have no idea what the drops are going to sound like. It just starts from either one kind of sound that I hear, but it’s never something that has to do with the drop. I usually build my songs around one particular kind of element and it becomes this whole kind because like I said earlier, if it’s not music it’s not going to be interesting.
There’s a lot of songs that I made as part of the song. “The Art of Love” is a good example where it was a song. I first worked on it maybe in 2016/2017, but I was never good enough to finish the song. But of course, you get better as time passes. You go back, look at the project, and figure out what you need to do to get this to sound how you think it should have sounded in your head.
How do you come up with the song title?
I usually like to listen to things in the song that invoke a feeling inside of me and then I’ll land on a word, a random word. And I’ll say, “Yeah this is it” like I feel like I’m some sort of Shakespeare with the song names.
What has been your most enjoyable song to write? Why?
“Pleasure.” It’s one of my best-sounding songs to me and it’s just so musical. This is different and nobody was expecting it. And it’s one of our most popular songs as well.
Your newest EP Warriors is my soundtrack for the year. What is your favorite track from this album?
“Dogfight” was the song that I was probably not going to put on Warriors because it was a very hard song to mix. It has that base in the drop and a hardstyle kick that I made in serum. It was so hard to mix because it’s got so much harmonic distortion. When I was making it, I knew this song makes me feel something like it makes you want to fight.
It was almost like, I don’t think they’re ready for us. I just feel like I’m a gladiator in an arena. That’s what I’d be thinking about. I do scenarios in my head when I’m listening to songs. I’ll close my eyes and be like yeah, I’m a gladiator right now. Definitely my favorite for sure.
How has quarantine changed your work ethic and inspiration?
Quarantine did a lot of things. Quarantine made me sit down and take a hard look at my life. I used to live in Fort Worth, but I moved to Las Vegas during quarantine. I have no family here, but it made me think outside the box and realize everything is starting to develop for me.
I feel like quarantine needed to happen for me because it forced me to take life more seriously and get my ducks in order. Business from a business standpoint from a music standpoint and everything from every standpoint. So in that sense, I’m thankful for it.
Who is an artist that you look up to?
There is one artist that fired me up and that would be SAYMYNAME. One time, towards the beginning of our duo, Wade and I were sitting in a room together. We didn’t even know what type of music we were going to make as a duo. We did these local shows and truly we didn’t know a damn thing. One day Milo & Otis’ “Trap Arms” (SAYMYNAME Remix) just randomly came on and when Wade heard that song jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room. I’m telling you, I’ve only seen Wade run a couple of times in my life. He came back in and said, “If we can do that I’m in.” and our duo kind of started from there.
What’s a song that you’ve heard countless times but never gets old?
The song I’ve heard countless times that never gets old is by the band Yes and they made a song called “Roundabout (2008 remaster).” I watch a lot of anime so this was the theme song for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Season 1, the best season, the only season in my eyes. This is a rock song, but one of those psychedelic rock songs that take you on a journey. The song is like eight minutes long and it changes and starts to sound like one thing, but then it starts to sound like something else. This song evolves and this is exactly what I like about music.
What is something unique or interesting about you that might surprise your fans?
I don’t know if this is unique, but it might be interesting. I have three different fish tanks because I like fish. I’ve got some axolotls that are all white. It’s called a leucistic and then I have a wild-type. And let me tell you, taking care of fish is a grind.
I have over 30 tattoos. I forget about that because you live with them, but I guess that could be interesting to somebody. I have a neck tattoo, I have a HI on this side and a BYE on this side. This ruined any potential for me to work in the corporate world.
What do you love about your fans and how do they motivate you?
What I love about my fans is that they say I can’t miss. I like that they are open-minded enough to listen to my music. It also just lets me know that I’m doing something right. Lit Lord fans are like a little army. One time when I went out to Best Buy, some guy was in the store wearing his Lit Lords merch. It was one of the most random things ever. There’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the Lit Lords fans or the fire squad as we call it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be patient. Trust the process, whatever that process is. Stay cool and calm. I would tell myself it’s not that serious. You can never take yourself too seriously. Being yourself is the best. Continue to be yourself. I’ve always been myself and it’s a hard path if you’re like this like me because I’m an introvert.
What are you most proud of in the last 5 years?
I am proud that I’ve been able to make a living off of doing what I love and not feeling like I have to do other things to live the life that I want to live and that takes really being conscious of yourself. I’m really proud of that, you know?