During LMFAO’s brief stop-off in Dublin, Red Foo takes time out to discuss live shows and animal print pants with Matt Gregg
Meeting room five in the Student Centre is probably the last place you’d expect to find LMFAO. The smallest, most claustrophobic room in the building seems somewhat inadequate when you consider that this summer practically belonged to the band. From the release of ‘Party Rock Anthem’ onwards, there was no escaping the Los Angeles-based duo, as imitations of their iconic ‘shuffle’ dance moves dominated dance floors and the song reached number one in countries across the globe.
Formed in 2007, the uncle-nephew combo of DJs Redfoo (Stefan Gordy) and Sky Blu (Skyler Gordy) famously changed their name from ‘Sexy Dudes’ to LMFAO after an iChat conversation with the latter’s grandmother. Since then, they steadily progressed from small-time performers in various Los Angeles clubs to the world-famous act they are today.
Their first hit, ‘I’m in Miami Bitch’, achieved more success as part of a bootlegged remix by DJ Inphinity, entitled ‘Bass Kick in Miami’. Nevertheless, this did not deter the pair, and their collaborations with other media sources have been key to their success. LMFAO tracks have been sampled in various American TV shows, notably the ‘Get Crazy’ theme tune for MTV’s Jersey Shore, and they also featured in David Guetta’s 2010 summer hit, ‘Getting Over You’, before the release of their second album, Sorry for Party Rocking, in 2011, which saw the band break through in their own right.
Their performance at this year’s Belfast MTV EMA Awards (coupled with Justin Bieber’s shuffling appearance at their after party) has confirmed LMFAO’s position as one of most notorious acts of today. And yet, just hours after their flying visit to Belfast, LMFAO’s attempt to “turn the world into a party rock planet” led them to UCD.
Initially, it is difficult to see what they are doing here. Temporarily deprived of Sky Blu due to a back injury suffered during their energetic EMA performance, Redfoo looks somewhat out of place. Even with the perks of being surrounded by stacks of Mountain Dew and an assortment of remote-controlled cars, this is not quite the LMFAO lifestyle Otwo had expected.
This demeanour is dispelled almost instantaneously as Redfoo reacts excitedly to the news that their UCD gig sold out in just forty minutes. “Wow, wow, wow. Yeah, I’m excited,” he says, gesticulating wildly. “[‘Party rock’] is growing and it’s growing and especially the college type of fans are [growing] because I feel like you guys work so much and this is just your release, and you get to ‘party rock’, dress up, whether it’s the animal print or glasses, and you just come and just let it all hang out and it makes for great shows.
“An MP3 can only go so far, you know? Video can only go so far… but when you see it live and you experience the energy transformation from us to the crowd, from the crowd and back … I mean, some shows get better just because the crowd is overly-excited,”
Redfoo elaborates. “They give us energy and we take it and recycle it and give it back to them and it becomes almost like a tennis match – a rally, if you will – and that’s something that is very hard to do just through MP3s or a video so live shows are extremely important.”
This emphasis on fun and excitement is integral to everything LMFAO do, including creating their somewhat abstract ‘party rock’ genre of music. They cite a great assortment of musical influences, from Michael Jackson to Tupac Shakur and even Led Zepplin, while founder of the renowned Motown record label Berry Gordy is the pair’s father and grandfather respectively. Redfoo feels this variation comes across well in their songs and describes ‘party rock’ as “an amusement park for music”.
“I think energy is one of the main ingredients to the LMFAO sound, to the ‘party rock’ sound,” he explains. “We always wanted to do something specific for the party and there’s a range of topics you can have for the party but the main thing is it had to rock the party, it had to get people up and dancing. It had to. We could make bluesy songs and all that stuff but, if we’re gonna make something slow, it’s gonna be some dubstep stuff that [would be] a break and we’d come back fast.”
Association with aspects of a party lifestyle, especially drinking and promiscuity, features explicitly in many of their tracks. Indeed, as far as back as 2009, the pair sought to create the ultimate drinking song and the outcome was ‘Shots!’ their collaborative track featuring Lil Jon. Similarly, Redfoo explains that LMFAO seek to “inspire the world by like sexin’ it up”, a claim anyone who has seen their latest video for ‘Sexy and I Know It’ could attest – a scantily clad Ron Jeremy and more thrusting than you could shake a stick at are particular highlights.
He doesn’t, however, see any problem with the apparent adult insinuations in LMFAO’s music. “Our intention is to make people happy. We’re spreading fun and when you look at a video like ‘Sexy and I Know It’, you don’t think [that]. Kids wiggle, you know, from a very childish standpoint so it’s not meant to be all perverted and nasty – it’s just what happens when you wiggle … I just feel the parents love it, the kids are wiggling at two years old and it’s all in the name of fun.”
A need for fun in any form is a recurrent theme and is, perhaps even more so than the dance moves or the music, integral in defining the LMFAO brand – particularly as they branch out and launch their own fashion range. “We gotta dress in giving the most energy so then when we walk around, we stand out. We’re the type of people that like attention so if I’m wearing something and someone says, ‘Hey! Cool pants!’ or, ‘I like your shoes’ or, ‘Are those glowing? Is that glowing in the dark?’ you know it just stimulates conversation.”
Redfoo’s attire unquestionably demands attention. The usual leopard print pants and bejewelled pumps are today augmented by what appears to be belt with a mini-zebra buckle. Pointing to it, he explains “Some people will walk a dog just to get attention … Some guys will just have a pit bull and people will go ‘Woah, that’s a scary dog’. We don’t have animals because it’s hard to take them on the plane. I have my fanny-pack … You know and I attached Henry, my zebra, and it guards my package from the ladies, especially all these college chicks.”
In a rather surreal moment, the fanny-pack starts emitting faint music and, as Redfoo stands, the zebra begins to dance. “He dances. This is the shuffle, it’s like a gallop. He likes to gallop and he’s part of the team.” Probably the most bizarre chastity belt Otwo has ever seen.
Nevertheless, it certainly grabs attention and is befitting of a man who explains that the pursuit of fame was always the underlying motivator. “I’ve always been doing music since ’93. I went to school with Will.I.Am, who was the first rapper on the Black Eyed Peas’ album. I did a lot of stuff. And I woke up one morning and I said, you know, ‘What is next, you know for the Foo, for the Fooster?’ and I was doing a lotta stuff with Sky Blu, rappin’ and making songs. But it’s easy to make songs and put ‘em out and get some local attention. And I saw Paris Hilton doin’ her thing and I saw some people … Britney Spears and … Eminem … and I said, ‘I’ve never been famous for what I love to do’.
“What is being famous like? Is it true that you get more girls? Yes, yes you do,” he declares, ticking the air flamboyantly. “But it’s important to be famous and liked – that’s the toughest thing. Do you wanna know a fun fact? ‘Party Rock Anthem’: most liked video in the history of YouTube ever. Almost a million likes, or I think it’s around a million so that’s what is the most amazing thing – that you could be famous and well-liked. I think it’s the highest thing you can do in your craft.”
It would seem that LMFAO have reached something of a pinnacle of fame, and it shows no sign of letting up. With a second album already in the works and rumours abounding that a new record will mark a shift in focus, it’s very possible that their fame will only continue to grow. However, Redfoo is rather non-committal when the subject of their new direction is broached,
“We’re in the incubation stage, you know. We’re still on the concept board. What direction are we going to take to keep the party goin’ and yet brings new insight into lives? Who knows, maybe some of the bloops and blunders. For instance, [Sky Blu] couldn’t be here today because he wiggled his back out. We might have to release a whole song talking about how you gotta stretch because he wasn’t doing his proper stretches and he’s paying for it now. We’re still not ready for the people because they have to understand that you can always have fun and then you have an excuse.”
Though they may not be ready for the people, the ever-increasing fame is something they’re welcoming with infinitely open arms. “It depends on what you want. A lot of people say, ‘Awh man, you know you can’t walk down the street no more without people recognising you’ and I said ‘Yeah, but I’ve lived a life where I’ve walked down the street and I’m walking down the street without them recognising you. I did that.’ It’s cool, you know. It was fun … but the point is now we have the power to really do something with the fame and that’s what we wanna do.”