When I finally got out of the rain and into The Roseland on Friday, February 5, I was promptly introduced to life-of-the-party and Skaterade Tour co-headliner Derek Luh. I could tell by his energy IRL that he was someone to be taken seriously. It was very apparent that dude was feeling himself, and I can’t say I blame him. The fresh-faced California native was the obvious center of attention during the pre-show M&G segment of the evening. I watched bemusedly as a continuous stream of people–fans and associates–pulled for his attention and followed his every move.
Despite his Instagram-modelness and swarms of heart-eyed tweens (which can easily blow-up the ego of a talented new artist), Derek was actually a joy to meet and talk with. But watching him perform was a whole other experience — just plain exciting. The 21-year-old’s striking features, smooth flow, and spontaneous physicality come together onstage with a definite old school sound. High-jumping, amp-climbing and I think crowd-surfing is his favorite?
After confirming that Derek Luh was more than just a pretty face with epic swag game and a few bangers, I shifted my focus to capturing him with my Canon XS. This part was quite a bit more challenging. First of all, my camera game is currently limited in the way of lenses and flash, so there’s that. Also…the crew of photographers and videographers that these boys travel with is very–ahem–involved on stage. This type of spacial unawareness is something I have seen a lot recently from (usually male) live photogs for up and coming artists. And because he’s such a physically active performer, it was difficult to get a clear picture of Derek because there were like six other photographers on stage moving around, getting up close and personal for what I hope is some dope archival footage. Like, DUDE. YOU’RE ALL UP IN MINE AND EVERYONE ELSE’S SHOT. AND THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE CAN SEE YOU AT ALL TIMES.
I have to admit though, it was a party up in that bitch. One other thing’s for sure: he’s definitely got that whole shirtless serenade thing down. Seeing Luh live got me to add some of his tracks into my regular Spotify rotation: “Down Chick,” “It’s Luh,” and and “Blow it Out” featuring Dizzy Wright, to name a few.
I’m looking forward to see how Derek grows as an artist. Read the quick interview we did right before he hit the stage for #SkateradeTour in Portland:
Me: First of all, I’m very impressed with your swag game.
Derek: Well thank you very much.
How do you decide what you’re going to wear on stage?
Um, actually, I gotta give a shout out to my homie Clay. This is just recently…I mean, I was born with style you know what I’m saying? But recently been getting into the vintage game, I gotta give a shoutout to my homie. He really put me onto that good Tommy and Polo and we ended up linking up and getting plugs with them too. And so I–you know, you kind of just feel it out, you know what I’m saying? It’s more girls [at the shows] and it’s like, let me get a shirt that’s easier to take off.
You know, not so many layers.
I’m sure everyone appreciates that.
Yea, you know. Nah nah, it’s really all just how you’re feelin’ you know?
Cool. Also, we don’t have sales tax here in Oregon so you might want to take advantage of that.
Oh really? Yo, someone hit the liquor store! Haha
Speaking of the ladies, I noticed a lot of your fans seem very excited about your looks. So…are you single?
I am. Very single. Very very single.
And what’s the most significant way that you connect with your fans?
The most significant way I would have to say is through the interaction through Twitter for the fans that can’t get [tickets]—social media is such a great tool because I can’t be everywhere at once. But my favorite thing is finally getting to meet the people that’s been supporting you when you drop something online. You know what I’m saying? They’re all the way in Detroit and you’re in California and they’re still pushing your music. And when you finally get to meet them face to face and thank them. You know what I’m saying? It’s just like…it’s just beautiful. The interaction with the fans is key.
Do you do meet and greets on all of your tours?
Of course! You gotta meet the fans.
What do you think it is about you and your music that your core fanbase relates to?
I just think that I’m just vulnerable, I’m real. You know what I’m saying? Like, I’m not afraid to like—I don’t put on a façade. You know what I’m saying? If a girl cheated on me, then ‘yeah. A girl cheated on me’ you know what I’m saying? Like, I’m not trying to put this big egotistical-looking chump, like, king-rapper type thing. You know? I just be me. I make music that I think sounds good, and that I really like. And you know, maybe one of my songs helps take someone out of a bad place and puts them in a different mood, or you know what I’m saying? And as long as it’s just one person, I’m grateful .
Yeah, for sure. I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve made a lot of stoner music, which is obviously very relatable to the masses.
You don’t think so?
I mean, kinda. I have a couple.
Or maybe it’s just the ones that are most prevalent?
Yeah, the ones that are most popular. Cause you know smoking is such a big thing. And I do smoke, and sometimes you like to make a song in the studio, feeling it, you know. But I don’t really want to be portrayed as that, you know what I’m saying? Like, I do have a lot deeper content, you know what I’m saying. I’m more of a conscious rapper. I want you to really–I don’t want to tell you, I want you to think for yourself. You know what I’m saying? Leave an open-ended question and let you figure it out. Like, cause you know when you get told what to do, you don’t want to do it. So as an artist I feel like if we can do it over a dope beat and give them a vibe, and on top of that give them something dope to think about and really ponder about: ‘I need to get my ass off the couch, get my lazy ass off the couch’. You know what I’m saying ‘go get this money.’ You know? That’s what’s most important. I try to stay away from the stoner songs but I think it’s just cause it’s the most popular ones as of right now. But yeah. I do not want that to be my image.
That being said, have you gotten a chance to check out the legal reefer situations up here?
Absolutely! We visited MindRite shop…Get Your Mind Rite? Yeah we kinda checked it out. It is nice being 21 and over, but what sucks is that it’s only a quarter. You can only get a quarter if you’re from out of state.
Ohhh. I did not know that. I mean…at one shop haha!
At one shop, exactly! Aye! She found a loophole. I didn’t even think about that.
What is the hardest part about touring?
The hardest part about touring it’s hard to say…it’s more about the coordination., you know what I’m saying. Cause you got so many people and so many things going on, it’s like rounding up just wild animals. You know what I’m saying? Like, for real. Like okay, we gotta make this shit work. So that’s probably what I think would be the most difficult part about it. But other than that, we love what we do so it doesn’t even feel like work. Even the rounding up the cattle part.
Seems like one of the best jobs you could have.
I say it all the time: be grateful guys, this is better than a real job.
How long have you and Nate known each other?
I’ve actually only known Nate probably like…going on 6 months now.
Oh really? How did you guys connect?
Yeah. We connected through a mutual friend and then we ended up doing the collab tape “The Fortunate Few.” And actually a funny story about that is: he came out for three days to Fort Wayne, Indiana where we recorded, and literally in three days we finished the whole project. Eight beats were played, and seven of those beats are the seven tracks; we didn’t play more than eight songs. ‘We’re making that song, we’re making that song’ and they all made the cut. It was just…God. It was God, yeah.
So do you guys have any pre-show rituals you always do to get yourself centered and ready to go?
Yeah, we definitely uh…we uh….you know what I’m saying, we definitely like to medicate. We do smoke a little bit, hangout, vibe. For me personally speaking, I like to just sit in the back and listen to oldies music and the shit that like is soulful, calming, relaxing. Because it’s like game time, you got those butterflies before you step on stage. But once you’re on stage it’s, you know, it feels like you’ve been in the end zone a thousand times type of thing, basically. So yeah, just get high and listen to oldies.
And what’s on the horizon for after Skaterade Tour?
Oh man, we’re making moves, gigs. I can’t talk too much about the names and what we do have going on, but we definitely have a project that’s coming up. I’m going to be dropping a new project with a bunch of visuals. We have a new little day-to-day Vlog thing that we do like every other day. It’s called Til the Wheels Fall Off. We have that going all the time. And then on top of that we got a bunch of dope collabs in the works with some pretty dope producers. Yeah, I’m super excited. And then, of course, right after that we’re gonna go on a Derek Luh tour.
Do you have anyone in mind for your openers for that?
For that, I do not. Probably Drake, maybe Wayne. If Jay’s available I’ll probably grab him.
He seems pretty available these days.
He gone have to go first though, he gone have to go first. Him and Beyoncé can share a fifteen minute set. Nah I’m kidding, I’m kidding; Jay, I’m sorry. Please do not end my career!
No, I’m saying to Jay in case this leaks. Play the full tape!
Oh! Okay, okay. Lol