Born in Trinidad and raised in Brooklyn, 26-year-old Theophilus London delivers a musical style influenced by everything from electro to hip-hop. After finding popularity online with a string of mixtapes, London released his first full-length album, Timez Are Weird These Days, in 2011. He’s collaborated with rappers Big Boi and A$AP Rocky, and singers Solange Knowles and Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara. His renown expands beyond music, having teamed with Nike sportswear and Stussy to produce apparel. Recently, London has retreated from live shows to work on his upcoming album Vibezz (due later this year), but he’ll make an exception for Las Vegas, performing at the Boulevard Pool on July 25.
You’ve said that on Timez Are Weird These Days you were trying to reinvent the mold. Where do you go from there?
I’m never going to join one genre of music where there’s the same four chords that sound the same like whatever pop records are playing. I’ve always been into progressive, funky music. You don’t wanna put out an album and get, “Oh, this reminds me of…” you know? That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to get nostalgic or anything. I’m just trying to create something new.
How will the album be surprising?
It’s going to surprise people that I actually stayed true to myself. I’ve grown a lot. It’s going to surprise people that the album is more personal. A lot of people, they don’t get to know me really. You think you know me, but what I’m showing you is mostly an illusion. On Instagram and Twitter, if I write something or I put a picture up, that’s what they’ve been seeing, and it’s honestly the total opposite. People really don’t know me. This album will be great to actually learn some facts about me.
What will listeners learn?
That I’m an artist of this time, this generation.
As such, what would you like to accomplish?
I want my music to reach more people—people in China, India, Africa. I want my music to reach people in South America. During the winter I want to do a Caribbean tour. … I don’t really care about award shows, but I think a Grammy would just be good to pat yourself on the back as a songwriter. I would really like to win a Grammy.
What will it take to reach that broader audience?
I don’t know about that. That’s why I’m so excited to figure that out and see. It starts with the music, but it’s all about the unseen mysteries happening. You don’t want to force it.
Some critics have said that you present more style than substance. Is there anything wrong with that?
I can’t control what people write about me. When my first album came out, the fashion world got ahold of me, “Oh, we love this kid!” So then I started playing all of my music for them at big dinners, and they were flying me out to Milan, to Japan, to Monaco. I was playing to a different crowd, like a five-star crowd—princes and queens and stuff. I was like a little kid where I was like, “Yeah man, I’m going to take these invitations to everything.” But then I just started to see that it was too much, you know? I’m a little bit more reserved now. I have a lot more albums to make, so it’s just so interesting that that happened the first time around. I can’t control it if people think I look good. Hey, I’ll take the compliment.
Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan, 8 p.m. July 25, $20, 698-7000, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.