Louis VI

As the famous saying goes... “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”. But what if there were another equally profound statement, one as conscious and important to the regeneration of one’s spirit after its been thrown a curveball? Enter ‘Sugar Like Salt’, the upcoming project from London rapper, producer & musician Louis VI and also a crucial lesson in approaching living with new eyes.


Born in London with a mixed heritage (Britain, Dominica, France and Italy), Louis has spent the past few years travelling between Britain’s capital city and New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. These immersive trips acted as a remedy, helping Louis to emerge from his shell, to celebrate his traits and to return back to London with a renewed sense of energy and love for his hometown.


Prior to heading out to the States and after leaving university, Louis fell into a period of depression. Money was terrible so he worked several part time jobs ranging from call centers to driving vans. “It felt like everything and everyone was trying to snatch your soul,” he explains, touching on the experience derived from compulsively making music while dead broke in one of the most expensive cities in the world.


The last EP from Louis, titled ‘The Lonely Road Of The Dreamer’, emerged from this period of darkness. Vulnerable and honest, the release materialized just as conversation around mental health started to gain momentum. Louis’ release helped to break down conversational taboos and, more importantly, it gave him a sense of relief – there was strength in being nothing less than your absolute and authentic self, even if that meant showing the darker sides. Things were looking up. Somewhere along the way he’d become cool with Frank Ocean too, who had recently moved to London.


“It made me feel like things were possible,” Louis explains of meeting, sharing music and generally discussing what he describes as “when-you’re-high” philosophical shit” with Frank, later becoming a contributor to the‘Boys Don’t Cry’ magazine. The project was conceptualised in London. Half of it was written there too. The other half was completed in the States after Louis had come out of the darkness and started to feel on top of the world. Regardless of the city, a significant amount of ‘Sugar Like Salt’ was recorded transiently in the car.


Driving between Tottenham and Kentish Town or Inglewood and Malibu, Louis would hit record on Ableton while playing the beats from his phone. With no one there to judge, he could let loose. The experience, he says, was liberating – “it allowed me to let out the crazy. When I drive it’s just an unfiltered creative process.” But then, while the project was being completed, life came through with its lemons again.


“Grenfell happened, then I lost a friend and more and more shit happened – crazy shit with my family, people not having enough money,” remembers Louis.“Reality is a bitch and it tries to suck you down. This record is about trying toremain honest and positive even when shit doesn’t work. It’s called like ‘Sugar like Salt’ because you never know when something is sweet or sour. You realise it doesn’t matter – they look the same. They look like life”


“That bad thing that happened to you might lead into something amazing that changes your life. And good things can lead to terrible things. There’s almost no such thing as the good and the bad. It’s just experiences.”


Where ‘The Lonely Road Of The Dreamer’ was more introspective, ‘Sugar Like Salt’ faces outward into the world and exists as a cosmic slice of brain food. Its list of featured artists is impressive too, boasting appearances from Mick Jenkins, Moses Boyd and Jelani Blackman among others. As the third track states, the tone of the release hinges on a need to “Free Your Mind”, moving with grounded ease through Saturn-referencing rhythms (“Jazz Got Me”) and zoned out, nocturnal sojourns across the city thinking about a girl (“WEST”). As its name suggests, it’s a project of two halves – the upbeat, defiant elevation is the sugar but there’s also a dose of dark, uncertain reality and lack of confidence in the young mind in the salt.


Take its smokey, jazz-tinged title track – a commentary on the systematic racism felt both here and in the United States. “Oh the subtlety is so sweet, what you telling me, to me??!,” sings the vocalist, appearing almost in a dream-like state, sarcasticallyteasing the idea of the salted racistmoments being almost cheekily subtle, particularly in the UK in the way they “appear” sweet. The track ends with a skit about the importance of being in the right mindset and of letting the universe take care of you – an idea that is the bedrock of the entirety of ‘Sugar Like Salt’. Ultimately it’s the feeling of “love in a time of hatred.”


The whole project, Louis explains, is about the balancing act of trying tolevitate above the bullshit, operating on a higher frequency – somewhere Louis says he finds himself today. “I’m in a place where I want tolook after my mind the same way that I brush my teeth,” he says, reflecting on his current state of mind. Across the record you get a sense of how that pans out as Louis addresses life through the eyes of race, money struggles, mental hustles, politics, fun, sex, life, silliness, London council estates, to New York blocks and LA hoods – and somehow finds a common ground between it all.


At the end of the day, “’Sugar Like Salt’, ain’t no good, ain’t no bad fam, it’s just a sequence of experiences in this thing we call life.”


Michael Harvey-Bray
Assisted by: Sarah Webber Sarah.Webber@CodaAgency.com