Lolawolf on the Rise of the '90s Kids

Zoë Kravitz could easily skip talking to reporters if she wanted to. I'm sure she's heard it all before — being both an actress and the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. It must get tiring having to keep reporters on the topic at hand, Lolawolf.

The band, which is compromised of Kravitz, Jimmy Giannopoulos, and James Levy, is an amalgamation of R&B, pop, trap, electro, and seemingly every other sound you can throw at it. In the end, Lolawolf produces records that are very current and unafraid of mixing up styles in order to reflect a myriad of influences. ("Every Fucking Day," off of the mixtape of the same name, is a great example of this.)

But the best of all is that Kravitz seems content in letting bandmates Giannopoulos and Levy share the spotlight despite her lineage — Lolawolf is not by any means the Zoë Kravitz Show — and, honestly, when I walked into the backroom at Toejam Backlot in Wynwood Thursday night, I was more than happy to talk to all three of them. It kind of took the pressure off of me of asking the cliché questions, like, How does it feel to follow in your father's footsteps? or Is it hard to be the daughter of celebrity parents?

In reality, I just wanted to talk about Lolawolf and where this project is headed. I'm not sure if I got a clear answer — we ended up rambling about '90s trends and explaining what exactly Tamagotchis were — but it was clear in our short face-to-face that the members of Lolawolf are having fun making music together.

The band's appearance at Toejam, dubbed House of Lolawolf, was part of Vice's Noisey and Bacardí's Untameable Artist series, which, according to Barcadi, "celebrates musicians who let nothing get in their way and allows them a platform to showcase their passions."

But back to the interview, where Lolawolf talks about how they come together to make music, the death of the album format, and cool '90s shit like Gak and MTV News with Kurt and Tabitha.

New Times: Do you guys do anything before to warm up before a gig?
Zoë Kravitz: We do interviews [Laughs]. We just have journalists come interview us to get all ramped up.

Can we get the cliché questions out of the way first?
Jimmy Giannopoulos: How did you come up with your band name? How would you describe your music?

Kravitz: Brother and sister.

Giannopoulos: The music is kind of like R&B.

James Levy: Where did you meet?

Kravitz and Giannopoulos: We met in Brooklyn.

Kravitz: This is great.

Who are your inspirations?
Kravitz: We suck at this question — '80s pop, um, Aaliyah, Timbaland. [Jimmy] listens to a lot of Depeche Mode, LCD Soundsystem, new kind of trap music, ASAP Rocky.

Levy: Candlebox. [Laughs]

Giannopoulos: There's a lot of young producers who are doing a lot of cool drill music out of Chicago and St. Louis. Future's producer [Metro Boomin] is dope.

Should we do the obligatory Bacardi plugin?
Kravitz: They are awesome. They gave us an opportunity to do what we want, which is a very rare thing for a big corporation to do. They basically said, "What's your dream house party and what kind of vibe do you want to put out?"

What is your dream house party?
Kravitz: Basically, they've created what the vibe of the band is, which is kind of rock, grungy, quirky, and strange environment. If I walked into a house and it was like this, I'd be like, Yeah!

I was listening to your music before I got here, and I found it to be really eclectic. How do you collaborate to when it comes time to make music?
Kravitz: Jimmy does most of the beats and the producing.

Levy: I think it always changes.

Giannopoulos: I'll give the spine of it, and then they will start putting the organs.

Kravitz: They? I don't do that.

Giannopoulos: Well, I mean, the vocals.

Kravitz: I do mainly the vocals and the lyrics. And [James] does a lot the melodic part of it with the synths.

You've released an EP, an album, and a mixtape so far. Do you feel you've improved with each release?
Kravitz: I wouldn't say so much improved as we've gotten more specific — the intention has gotten more specific. We've had these ideas and we go for them full force as opposed to "Let's write a song and see what happens." We think about trap music and how to make it our own and just go for it and how to make it brattier and louder and create more of a character. It's not just a song. It's an idea, an aesthetic.

Giannopoulos: And not being so precious with the release, because we released a mixtape, so it's not like what the next record is going to be. These are just some songs we're cool with, let's just put these up. It's just putting out what we're cool with at the moment.

Honestly, the internet has allowed artists to take more liberty in the way they release music. You don't have to follow the traditional album format if you don't want to.
Giannopoulos: The mixtape thing is basically a way for people to put music out. Originally you could use samples and you wouldn't get sued. But now you can put stuff up and test it out.

Kravitz: You can listen to an idea.

Giannopoulos: Yeah, not so precious.

I sense a '90s vibe in your music. I don't know if that's intentional.
Kravitz: I mean, we're '90s kids. I think that why it's kind of in and trending right now. That's the generation that's running shit right now — kids who grew up in the '90s. Whatever inspires you when you were a kid is what you always strive for. I was a kid in the '90s so I would also watch the older people doing shit and I thought that was really cool. I'm sure subconsciously I want to do what was cool when I was a kid.

What was your favorite '90s thing? Mine was Tamagotchis.
Kravitz: Yeah, I would always kill mine.

Giannopoulos: Was that like a pencil?

No, it was like a digital pet on a keychain.
Kravitz: Yeah, and you would have to feed it.

Levy: I don't remember that at all.

Do you remember a great '90s trend?
Giannopoulos: I loved Cross Colours.

Levy: Yeah, and it's called Eddie Vedder.

Kravitz: The '90s was so cool. There was like Nirvana, Bop It, Furbies, No Doubt, Sublime, Garbage —

You're just naming everything I loved about the '90s.
Giannopoulos: There was flannel, baggy jeans, hip-hop, Hypercolor.

Kravitz: What was that sludge stuff?

Kravitz: Gak!

Giannopoulos: There was Pepsi Clear.

We are just naming '90s things now.
Giannopoulos: But we romanticize it.

Levy: MTV News.

With Kurt Loder and Tabitha Soren...Anyway, what can we expect from you music-wise in the coming months? Are you working on new music?
Kravitz: Not yet, but we're going to start December/January recording music.

Do you guys hunker down to write music?
Giannopoulos: James is the busiest. We got to work on your schedule.

Kravitz: Yeah, James, will you have time to record?

Giannopoulos: When will you be able to get away from that leisure time of yours? [Laughs]

Levy: It's really tough at the factory. [Laughs]
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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran