Courtesy of the artist

Lookas, Palmetto Bay's "GDFR" Genius, Looks Homeward

Lookas likes to party. The young music producer from Palmetto Bay cut his teeth as a DJ at house parties all over Miami-Dade before EDM emerged as an ultrapopular genre.

“I would invite everyone,” he recalls. “Back then, on Facebook you could invite like 100,000 people at a time... Whenever it was my party, people knew it was going to be the craziest thing, and we’d fit like 600 or 700 people in a backyard. I remember one time when the cops came and shut down the party, and they weren’t even mad — they were just like, ‘We’re shocked that you fit this many people in this backyard of this house.’”

Lookas began his career early after persuading his parents to let him put off college for a year to focus on music. His career took off after he put his own spin on a DVBB and Borgeous track, "Tsunami," which he remixed with colleague HLTR$KLTR. He’s since been ranked on Rolling Stone’s “Artist to Watch” list, which described his music as a “new breed of heavy metal trap” characterized by face-melting robot noises and festival-leveling drops.

He says he draws influence from rock, hip-hop, and radio pop: “I’ll hear something on the radio and say, ‘I wanna make something like that, but better.'”

He definitely has a softer side. It's demonstrated on his new single, “Alarm,” which dropped December 1 as part of a three-track EP, Lucid. It’s a glossy, radio-ready collaboration with the electronic-dance duo Krewella, and it'll definitely become part of the soundtrack for Greek Life on a college campus near you. Listen to the chorus: “I’ve got a one-way ticket to space, let’s get out of here/I heard Jupiter’s nice this time of year.”

Lookas spoke with New Times from New York after getting off a plane from Hong Kong. He was looking forward to landing in Miami and going home after a whirlwind tour of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. In fact, his whole life has been a whirlwind since he collaborated with Flo Rida on the 2015 track "GDFR.” He was 19 years old when he remixed “Low Rider” by War, which is where the beat’s brassy hook originated. Out of the blue, he received an email with a demo of Flo Rida rapping the bars that became the verses.

“I was like, ‘Holy shit, people are going to love this,’” Lookas recalls. He was right — the song blew up. It was featured during the NBA Finals and the Super Bowl and, later, on the soundtrack to Marvel’s Deadpool. By the time Lookas was 22, “GDFR” had gone multiplatinum, and now he hears it playing pretty much every time he goes to a bar or club.

“That song definitely changed my life,” he says. “It’s crazy to have that under my belt at such a young age, and it’s changed my whole perspective on making music in general. It was the craziest thing to realize I have the potential to make music that people will love, you know? It’s been pretty dope.”

He’s been touring heavily ever since. During his sets, he chooses from a list of more than 150 tracks — including his friend’s songs and his own unreleased music — and tries to “play as many as I can in an hour or a 90-minute set,” he says. “I kind of read the crowd and try to constantly keep everyone moving, keep the energy at 100.”

He also makes a point of interacting with audiences throughout his sets, which are becoming increasingly visually engaging as his career continues its upward trajectory.

“I hope to one day build my own [stage] production,” he says. “That’s definitely a goal of mine. But for now, we have my logo and all kinds of cool animation that keeps the crowd intrigued and having a good time.”

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