When James Prudhomme DJ’d at 2am on a Thursday night in Paris, he wore white iPhone headphones. This was the third show on his first ever tour, for the 19-year-old music producer from Baton Rouge Louisiana, known as Suicideyear. It’s surprising he’s never toured before. He’s already produced for Young Lean on his track Hurt, collaborated with rapper Rome Fortune from Atlanta, and signed onto Software Recording last year.
Mixing recent American rap along with deeper house tracks more reminiscent of the Paris underground scene, he made the crowd of mostly 20-something Parisian men feel like they were at the rowdiest rap concert of their life. His set included rap tracks like Priceless by Canadian rapper Tory Lanez and music by Chicago drill queen Katie Got Bandz, and also dance tracks like Swedish producer Yung Gud’s remix of Jacques Greene’s No Excuse.
A few hours before his set, I found James sitting on one of the couches near the dance floor when the club was practically empty. Looking at his cracked black iPhone 4, hanging out in his roughed up white Nike Air Force One’s and a Camouflage shirt, James blends in, almost as if he were at home making music in Louisiana. But this is his first time out of the country; he’s only been in Europe for about a week. He’s already played Berghain in Berlin and Debaser in Stockholm. We talked rap, Drake, his connection with Paris’ Bromance label, and opening up for Yung Lean’s all ages show in New York City last year.
So what have you been up to since you’ve been in Paris?
I’ve been going to bars and stuff. Checking out clubs, they’ve been really cool.
What else have you been doing other than playing shows here in Europe?
I’m working on my next release. I’m not supposed to say too much about it. I’m working on it overseas. It’s just been the show mostly. But other than that, I’m just hanging out having fun and stuff. Checking out the nightlife and what not.
How did you link up with rapper Rome Fortune?
Well, me and Rome had met when he was living with Makonnen and AirBNB-ing with Makonnen back in July in New York. And we had mutual friends and I heard of Rome before, I’ve listened to Beautiful Pimp 2, but I just followed him on Twitter he followed back and he just DM’d and was like “Yo, let’s meet up. Let’s smoke something, let’s make a song.” So we met up at our friend’s apartment and I had showed him a couple of beats and that’s when we made Trap Lady, which was co-produced by Outthepound, a good friend of mine, too, from Louisiana. And then ever since then it’s been really cool. We played a show together at Kenyon College in Ohio. We met up back in December in Atlanta and we made some songs in the studio.
Are you working with other rappers?
Yea, I’m definitely working with other rappers right now. I’m working with some drill people, which is fun.
Are there any rappers you’d hope to collaborate with eventually?
Somebody I would really like to reach out to is SD. SD of GBE is really cool. BCKingdom are like a really big favorite of mine, I really like BCKingdom, I’m not sure if they’re from Oklahoma, or if they’re from LA, but they’re really sick. They’re really cool.
What are your favorite releases from this year, and what have you been listening to lately?
One album I’ve really been rinsing, which is kind of old, not too old, is No World by a group called “Inc.”. They’re this brother group, like they’re two brothers from Los Angeles and they made this neo-soul/like R&B kind of stuff. It’s really passionate and intimate stuff and it almost has like rap drums to it but it’s like guitar work and harmonizing. Recently, I’ve really been rinsing Lil Bibby and Lil Herb, I’ve heard some unofficial compilations by them. I don’t even listen to that much new music, honestly. I feel like 2014 was a let down of a year for most music. The Tour mixtapes by Rich Gang are super good I listen to those a lot. The new Future Beast Mode is really good. I’d say those are some of the biggest releases I’ve listened to from this year. Also the new RL Grime album’s pretty cool.
What do you listen to on the road?
When I’m touring, not necessarily when I’m touring but when I’m traveling I listen to [Drake’s] Take Care a lot. Take Care is like a really long album, it’s got all these up’s and down’s like, it’s really diverse for listening to on a plane or something it’s really cool.
What’s your favorite track from Take Care?
The song that people should always know about on Take Care is “Look What You’ve Done” because it’s completely a tribute track to like his uncle, well, to his mom and then to his uncle that did so much for him in his life. It’s a really cool song and it ends with like a vocal sample of like his grandmother leaving a voicemail she had left for Drake, before she died, it’s a really special and important song.
What do you think of Lil’ Boosie’s new material? Have you seen him since he got out of jail?
I haven’t seen him since he got out of jail. But I think his new music’s really good. I think it’s really cool how he’s bigger than when he went into prison, which is crazy because most rappers can’t say that. I thought he wouldn’t be able to acclimate to how things are now, cause like, coming from Baton Rouge everybody listened to Boosie and he was way different from like mainstream rappers. He just always had a way different style. In Baton Rouge he’s a hero and shit. So I was really curious to see if he could keep up, he used to rap on Cash Money beats back in the day, but his new songs are good, like the tape he released, the one with No Juice on it is crazy, it’s just a crazy ass song. And his Lifestyle remix is pretty good, but it’s on a fake Lifestyle beat and, I can’t fuck with that. Cause he’s been in the studio with like London on Da Track—I don’t get why he used a fake London on Da Track beat, that’s crazy.
What’s the best part of being Suicideyear?
I guess that people fuck with my music. I never thought that, I mean I used to make music in my room like in my underwear so I never thought I’d be playing shows and stuff, I never thought I’d be playing shows in Europe and shit, so that’s really cool.
How did you get this opportunity to tour for the first time in Europe, and not in the US?
Just the fact that people fuck with dance music harder in Europe than they do in America. And I had some really cool agents reach out to me about wanting to book shows and stuff. Shout out Simon, shout out Michail, they’re really cool guys, they’ve really been helping me a lot from this point. I have a really good manager and I have a really good team for booking agents so like everybody has been really supportive and it’s been really good. It’s been a great process; everything’s been going well.
What are your goals for this year?
Collab a lot with people. I kind of want to do a dance project, that would be cool.
What kind of dance project?
I like garage stuff a lot so maybe try to fuck with garage. Me and Outthepound used to make post-bop—bop as in Sicko Mobb and like zan with that lean stuff, like Soulja Boy. So we wanted to expand on the sound, although a lot of people are doing that now. We’re still trying to pull for a project like that—that would be really cool.
Where do you see the future of cloud/sad rap going?
I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s like gone beyond being cloud or sad rap. I know for a fact like cloud rap was never really meant to be a thing. And with sad rap I think Yung lean and them have really matured so I think they’re really starting to expand beyond what the borders were. I ran into Yung Lean and them when I was in Berlin, it was fun. I was literally checking out of my hotel and they were checking in, but we were just like, “Hey what’s up?” I had opened up for them a couple times when I was in New York.
What were those shows like?
The first show was 16+ the second show was all ages, which was really crazy. So literally 14 year olds were there—it was nuts. It was crazy, Arizona sponsored it so Arizona came through with a bunch of free Arizona teas.
How’d you link up with Software music?
Back in like 2013, Daniel [from Software Music] had emailed me and it was really cool. We had a couple one-off messages and were talking to each other and they eventually put a contract down.
Is the track “Daniel” on your most recent Remembrance EP named after him?
Yea, I named it Daniel. One, he’s cool, Two, he had put this thing out through Converse, it was like, you take this sample, they take one stem and you make a song from it. So that’s what I did with it. So I made that song called “Daniel”, mostly because, not like some stalker shit, and honestly I didn’t expect it to go on the EP and shit, it was cool.
And there’s another track on the EP called “Caroline,” who is she?
Caroline, she is my good friend. Caroline Simms, it’s platonic. She’s like my mom. She’s like my mom and sister like my ride-or-die. All in one, like If I’m gone, she makes sure I’m not too gone, if she’s gone I make sure that she isn’t. She keeps me in check. She’s a guardian angel, honestly. She’s really cool.
You’ve mentioned in some earlier interviews that your song titles are “spur of the moment.” Was that the case with the Remembrance EP?
Yea definitely back, with the Japan EP most of the song titles were very spur of the moment, with Remembrance it was a much different vibe, much more sentimental. It was a sentimental piece that I want to be taken differently than my other works; my next release is not going to sound like Remembrance. I need people to know that. ‘Cause like Remembrance is definitely, if you were to listen to Japan and then expect something like Remembrance to sound like it—it just wouldn’t, it was way different.
You also had another track come out recently, “Don’t Worry,” which seemed to have a different vibe than the EP.
Don’t Worry was put through Homieland vol. 1, through Bromance.
So you’re close with the Bromance guys?
Yea. The Bromance guys are family. We’ve been working since 2013. We had done a release together, I had done a release with Kaytranada through them and that was really cool back in the day. That was in 2013 when we did that, and that was really fun.
Have you seen them since you’ve been in Paris?
Yea. I’ve been staying with Guillaume Berg of Bromance and it’s been really really cool.
Guillaume Berg has that new project with fashion designer Virgil Abloh, what do you think of that?
Yea him and Virgil Abloh have Paris.il going it’s really cool. Virgil Abloh is cool too he’s shown his support, too. He’s a cool guy. He fucks with the younger generation; he fucks with people doing new stuff. He’s not like one of those old dudes trying to keep it old school and keep that alive, he’s all about expanding horizons and touching onto new shit.
Do you know who else you’ll be playing with for the rest of your tour?
I’m not too sure how many people I am playing with. I’m going to be playing Birthdays [in London] with a bunch of guys from Donky Pitch, which will be really sick. Shoutout to them. I played Berghain with Amnesia Scanner, they were awesome, they were amazing. Gazelle Twin, very sick project, you should definitely check out. And the homie Evian Christ—Josh. Me and him kind of go back, he’s really cool. His live show is very impressive. And I’m always excited to hear his new stuff cause he’s just an artist that continues to grow and progress with his sound. It’s never a decline. He’s always just going more up. So it’s really cool.
What were you working on before you started touring?
I was working on beats with rappers and collaborators and stuff mostly. I am trying to spend most of my time in Europe finishing the release and stuff. I’m in Europe for a month, but I only have ten shows so I have a lot of off days. I had four days off here, I have like a whole week in London off which will be fun.