Louis Futon | Way Back When

by Paulette Ely

“Louis Futon and this project meant everything to me, but then I found out that there’s multiple avenues that you can go in the music industry, and now Im a lot more selfless about music,” said the LA based DJ as we sat side by side listening to milk steam from across the coffee bar. Tyler Minford, known to fans as Louis Futon, released his album Way Back When after years of self discovery and hand-shaping his own sound. To celebrate this milestone, Futon gave fans just a few shows exclusive to LA and SF in which he showcased a live band to accompany his highly energetic set. 

“You see me smiling and dancing all the time on stage because I think about what I want the audience to feel, and I want them to feel how I’m feeling onstage,” Minford explained. “I want them to feel extremely happy, and I make myself look stupid because that’s me encouraging people to not be afraid to look stupid. It’s like, ‘Look at me, I don’t give a fuck up here’.”

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

Louis Futon popped up on the electronic music scene just a few years back, and his mixes and singles collected over sixty million streams in seemingly a split second. That being said, the production pro has been familiar with the industry from his own endeavors long ago. 

“In freshman year of high school, I was in a band and I wrote all the music. I booked studio time and I sourced artwork from a random dude in Russia for $150, and I cut CD’s and handed them out to the whole school. At that point in time I knew this would be my career because I just loved it so much. I loved the hustle,” said Minford. “It kind of fell off when my music projects back then didn’t take off, and it humbled me. I thought I should just listen to my parents and go to business school… and so I did. I went to school for marketing and finance, and after my sophomore year I was like,  ‘I’m fucking tired of this. I want to see if I can do this music thing.’ Up until then I had never really sacrificed and given something everything I got. I started making beats, and they were really shitty at first, but I just kept going and kept getting better. Eventually this started to take off, and it seems like the equation is pretty simple: The more work I put in, the more success I see and the more happy that I am.”

After a successful series of singles, Minford knew it was time for Louis Futon to release an album in full. The 14 track joyous journey through sound came together seamlessly, yet it was some bumps in the road that gave the album a purpose. 

“I mentioned making that decision in college, and I was on that path for a good amount of time. However, then I found myself getting lost. The industry and the expectations for what my fans wanted and what my management wanted made me not know what I wanted. I just got in such a deep hole with my relationship- which was horrible- and I was addicted to adderall- which was my biggest feat to this day. I was in such a bad place and music turned into more of a job. Way Back When came after I got out of that relationship, and I started over and fell in love with music again.”

The album encompasses all of Futon’s personal passions and goals within his own production while also featuring artists such as RKCB, Duckwrth, NoMBe and Armani White- to name a few.

“I have relationships with everyone I’ve worked with. I keep in touch with them to this day, but the person who I text everyday and send my works-of-progress to is Armani White. We met in Philly a few years ago, but we’re best friends now. He has the best music taste of anyone I know, and we trust each other so much that I know whatever I send to him, he will have an informed opinion,” Minford said. You can hear the reliability and success of the music made upon genuine friendships, as well as the stylistic impact that his personal idols made upon him such as Flying Lotus and Mr.Carmack. 

Not only did the rising star put his ideas into action for his album, he also was dedicated to a unique performance experience consisting of special guests, audience involvement and the most divine live band. Minford wished to have a band representing multiple genders and cultural backgrounds as well as having equal measure spirit to skill. The band began with the addition of Ariel on the trumpet, and then extended to Bianca on the drums and Haley on the sax.

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

“I feel very lucky to have all the members in the band. The first show in LA was really amazing, but we were pretty critical of ourselves. It’s one thing to practice in the garage and just run things through, but it’s another thing to get that game time experience where you’re micro-analyzing everything about the show. The second night in SF, we made a bunch of improvements. I wanted to incorporate my beat challenges where I flip a song and do something on the spot and make a song out of it in a few hours. I try to show that it’s more about having fun and the energy of making music. A lot of times, people get caught up in the technical side of things, but it’s more about just doing it and feeling it. I wanted to bring that energy into the live show as well. On the third day we had a day off in SF, so the band really connected and bonded. We went out to dinner and everyone opened up about themselves. Then going back for soundcheck, Ariel got injured. We do a dance in the show, and Ariel couldn’t do it. Haley then stepped up and said she would do the dance, so we practiced. She was like, ‘Okay, but what if we do this…’ Later during soundcheck, she had more ideas that we ran with. By the third day, it was really special to feel what that bonding did for the performance. I wasn't even really prepared for it, but I wanted every member to feel like they’re apart of the band because I respect them so much on a  human level, but even more on a musical level. I want their brains in the show, which is why I selected them. By the last day, I think everyone really felt like they were apart of the show and apart of the band, and we really came together and it was just super special to feel that energy play in. We weren’t really focused on the technical stuff or the kinks because we had already sorted it out. My tour manager was like, ‘The third show was the one, this is something speicial.’ After the last day, I was like, ‘Guys, let’s do this. Like how Anderson Paak has The Free Nationals, this can be the band.’  I want to expand and get Arielle and Haley a work station with a synth so we can make stuff on the spot. With this specific kind of music, you don't really see that. You don't get that journey of a jam session and live music vibe. I’ve never gotten that feeling, but with that show I feel it, and I’m so excited.”