Following The Release Of His Debut LP, The Dallas Hip-Hop Emo Prince Talks Success, His Musical Influences And What’s To Come.
Lil Lotus has had a great year.
Dabbling in hip-hop, emo and pop-punk, he released his debut LP, Errør Bøy, on Epitaph Records back in August. Featuring collaborations with Travis Barker and Chrissy Costanza, it was a big breakthrough for the man born in Pleasant Grove as John “Elias” Villagran.
Working with hip-hop group Boyfriendz and crunchy post-hardcore If I Die First, there is plenty for him to stay busy. That’s been a lot for him, but he looks forward to what he writes next.
We caught up with Lotus via phone while he’s in Los Angeles, where he’s partially called home for the last few years. He shared about how his year has been, his upbringing in the Dallas area and what he sees for himself in 2022.
Would you say this year has been a good year for you?
Yeah, it’s been pretty sick. I had a lot of time to work on new stuff, then go on tour. Got to see a lot of friends on the road. Everybody seems to like the new material, so it’s been pretty fun.
It’s nice when you want to grow as an artist, and the audience grows with you instead of rejecting you.
Yeah, I wasn’t sure everybody was going to like the new stuff or the band stuff with me. During COVID, we launched our If I Die First project. I’m stoked about all the stuff I’ve been doing.
It was only a few years ago that you were living in Dallas and not imagining the life you have now. Is that a safe assumption?
I moved to LA like four or five years ago. I always knew I would come out here, but I didn’t expect Lotus to be my full-time job. I did know this was what I wanted to do and I was gonna make it happen. Me and my ex-fiancé got a house out in Dallas for like, nine months, but then we decided to come back here.
Were you born and raised in the Pleasant Grove area? Or did you move around the area?
Nah, I never really moved around. I was there my whole life.
It’s known as a very working class area. Is that what you grew up around?
Yeah! My dad did construction and my mom was a teacher’s assistant. The whole neighborhood we grew up in was pretty rough.
As compared to living in Los Angeles, do you prefer that much more?
Yeah, I enjoy coming back and visiting. I have my son out there, and I’m out there every single month. I do a lot of traveling. Creatively, I like it out here a lot.
Were you a fan of Epitaph Records when you were growing up?
Oh, hell yeah! When I’d see the Epitaph logo in the bottom of a music video, I would listen to the band. Escape the Fate, Bring Me the Horizon, Pianos Become the Teeth, I Set My Friends On Fire. A lot of bands off Epitaph were my number one go-to’s.
The Punk-O-Rama compilations were great introductions to me for the bands on their roster. Was it more YouTube for you than, say, video games?
It was Warped Tour compilation CDs and then searching for more and more on YouTube.
Today you have fans and musicians listening to new music every single day thanks to downloading and streaming, versus the way it was during the ’80s and ’90s where you might hear a new artist every week or month. People listen to a wider variety of music starting at an early age now and thus grow up with a wider taste in music. Do you agree with that?
I can definitely see that. It’s crazy to me because there are so many artists now. I can see how everyone’s attention spans are shorter and they are open to a different variety of stuff. I have a lot of love for the old way of doing things. Like, the idea of going to a show and finding your new favorite artist as opposed to looking up something on Google or YouTube. Going to get music and popping into a CD player. I like that.
Were you a regular attendee at the Warped Tour when it came through Dallas?
Yeah! Warped Tour was the shit!
What were the years you went to it?
I think it was 2007 or 2008 and then forward. I remember one year Of Mice & Men played. I was at Walmart and I saw this monster tour bus. I was like, “Wait, this is the weekend of Warped Tour. I bet you anything that’s one of the bands.” And so I go and wait outside. Austin Carlisle comes out and the rest of the band. And then iwrestledabearonce showed up. I freaked out and I went and I ripped this traffic sign off of a pole. I go back to the bus and made them all sign it. It turned into this cookout, hanging out at this Walmart, playing football.
Fast forward a few years later, I go on tour with Of Mice & Men. I was with all the homies and I said, “Do you remember this kid? That was me!” They were like, “What the fuck? I didn’t know that was you.”
What does next year look like for you?
Umm.. I don’t know. I’m currently experiencing different stuff right now. Figuring out what I like and what I feel like liking. [laughs] I’ve been making anything and everything. I’ve been doing a lot of writing. Possibly some Boyfriendz stuff. A lot of Boyfriendz songs are unreleased and we’re going to try to figure out what we’re going to do with [them]. Some more If I Die First stuff and of course, more Lotus stuff. Touring all of those projects.
I’m putting together all of these acoustic songs. I think I might put out an acoustic EP. But who knows if I end up adding those to another album. Then I feel like I have to tour an acoustic EP. I don’t know if I want to do an acoustic tour.
I don’t know. I don’t have it really figured out yet, but I know there’s a lot of music coming out. A fuck ton of music. [laughs]