By Arman Shiraz
The elusive juju — who goes by other aliases such as RobloxCore CEO, LazyTown General, JUJU FALLS, and jujuworld — is the father of SoundCloud’s most-recent revival. Forming his own collective/genre, GlasGlo (a combination of references to Chief Keef’s GloGang and juju’s hometown of Glasgow), he developed a sound that would go on to be the blueprint for the digi-core Internet music that blew up in the past year.
Internet mythos surrounds juju, with a notable anecdote being his hit song, "Fall" (featuring lil emo), which became popular on the online video game Roblox and subsequently gained over 200,000 streams on SoundCloud. Alongside newer artists like Sematary (who also produced "Fall"), the experimental rapper also has connections that range to underground veterans like Drain Gang and ripsquad. Since his earliest singles, he has consistently evolved both sonically and thematically, leading to his most recent album, Consumer (released October 2020).
In a recent chat with juju, we discussed Consumer, as well as topics such as struggle vs consumption, fake toxicity in music, and his new LazyTown movement.
Thanks so much for doing this. First of all, you recently got back to London, so, what have you been up to?
juju: I appreciate it man, thanks for having me, for real. I’ve been back in London [for] less than a week. I’m living with Rapallo. He’s my best friend, engineer, and main producer/collaborator. Together, we’ve been setting up the Lazy Mansion. We’ve got a studio in the house and we’re getting back into work mode. I had some problems that were stopping me from working, but everything’s going smoothly now. I’ve got a lot of new music coming, as well. I actually just recorded a new song last night. That’ll be out on the LazyTown page soon; look out for that.
I’m happy to hear you got that sorted out. So, you and Rapallo are a dynamic duo these days, especially on your most recent project. Recently, you two also created a new sound, which is very different from the sound of your last album, Struggler. How did you create this new world of music while keeping it “you?”
juju: When I recorded Struggler, Rapallo hadn’t even moved to the UK yet, so it was a totally different world for me. The headspace and mentality that went into Struggler was different in some ways than Consumer: it was darker, and more chaotic. Production-wise, there wasn’t an executive producer, either.
Consumer was totally different. I sat down with Rapallo and we decided we were gonna make an album together; I think it was the first Summer Rapallo stayed in the UK. I was down in London visiting, and we made the whole project the whole time I was there. We just banged it out. It was quite an intense time as well, like one of the nights, I had nowhere to stay, and I was out in London. I had a very vivid experience of that time period, and I put everything into that project.
And I also want to touch on what you said about creating a world. That’s a big thing for me and Rapallo. With the whole LazyTown movement we’ve got going on right now, that’s organic. We never decided, “Let’s do this; let’s make this.” It just comes about through the life we live, and the way we conduct ourselves. Everything I do is about creating a reality for myself. That’s a big part of art for me.
That’s what really draws me to your music. There are so many artists making hyperpop-style music, but you really do something unique and incredibly different.
juju: Thanks man, it means a lot, because there are a lot of artists nowadays making almost “post-juju” music. Like you said, hyperpop, digicore, glitchcore, whatever people want to call it...I feel like me and Rapallo had some influence on that genre. I have a song called “Tell Me Baby” [prod. Lusi], and I think it came out in 2016 — that song has high-pitched vocals, and it’s sped-up and boppy. Obviously, it has very similar influences to a lot of the kids these days, but it didn’t have a blueprint. There was no standard; I was just making music to be expressive and try new things. Now, there’s almost a standard to music like that, except it’s become a lot more formulaic.
Like you said, me and Rapallo sort of stand outside of that. We sort of have our own thing. I don’t feel like I’m part of any scene. There are people in this music community, or genre, or Soundcloud, who I see as my peers — don’t get me wrong — but as far as the scene, I don’t feel fully involved in that in any way. I feel like I’m more of an OG to that.
I wanted to ask you what the concept behind Consumer is. The title Consumer is similar to Struggler, so I see an arc where you go from being a struggler to being a consumer. Am I right to assume that?
juju: As far as lyrically and artistically, a lot of the influences [for Struggler] come from one of my favorite manga and anime, which is Berserk. Those [influences] are the themes of predestination — thinking about my fate, thinking about my place in the world — and also the term “struggler” itself. It’s pretty direct.
I’ve not had an easy life, and especially when I was making those songs and subconsciously creating that album, I really felt like my life was one struggle against my destiny. I wasn’t really born into anything artistic. I never really thought I could ever do anything like that. Just to be able to do it is such an empowering feeling, and I really just wanted to sort of exorcise that demon from myself — the struggle. I wanted to create something beautiful from it. It sounds cliché, but that was my way of doing that.
But with Consumer, the idea is that — as well as struggle in life, which is the thing that defines you — there’s the consumption part of life, which is what we use to define ourselves. It’s not something outside of us that’s forced on us that we need to struggle through. There’s art, music, TV shows...down to the snacks and sodas we eat, drugs. That was a really dark time in my life, the two months before I made Consumer.
So, I went to London to see Rapallo and go stay in his house, and he lived in a really nice apartment, with a basement with a sick studio setup, in Northeast London. It was summer and it was beautiful. The whole point was to make something that had never been done before, something completely new, and I wanted it to reflect this idea of the consumption that had been driving my life: the music, the media, the drugs, and everything that I was consuming. I wanted to make something positive and new out of it. Something that wasn’t obvious either, that wasn’t just an obvious take on consumption, on capitalism. I wanted it to be something more personal and artistic.
That’s why songs like “Vivienne” and “Beep Me” are, I guess, juju making hyperpop, consciously. It was just me consciously trying to make a really poppy album filled with references. Something people could listen to on their phones, even something that sounded like a ringtone. That’s what sonically drove the album.
You mentioned Consumer has to do with capitalism, and you don’t shy away from anti-capitalism, so do you want to touch on that?
juju: Capitalism, I just see [it] as a destructive force. In a way, I think the name Consumer is symbolic of capitalism. It’s almost like a devil. It’s this great consumer; it consumes the soul of life, the joy of life. You get lots of people defending capitalism in a purely material way. They’ll say, “Because of capitalism, people have more money in general, so people do more things and have better lives etc.,” and I just feel like that’s so bleak- the idea that bare material things in life are all that we really need. Capitalism, to me, gives everything a worth, everything a price tag, and makes the direction of life about consuming things.
While we’re on the topic, it would be a good time to talk about the commodification of hyperpop or SoundCloud music that we were talking about earlier. In a tweet, you talked about hyperpop artists who fake a struggle in order to look cool. Do you want to touch upon that?
juju: I just couldn’t stand listening to the same lyrics over and over again. They’re almost, like, clichés. I know genres always can have clichés, but this one doesn’t sit right with me because everyone is doing it.
It just seems to be some artists, in my opinion, aren’t being very creative. I’m not trying to knock them; I’m not trying to say they don’t sound good at all; I’m not trying to shoot them down. But, just in my opinion, I just find it so sad that this has become the norm, to just rap about guns and objectify women...it just doesn’t fit. It doesn’t even fit with the lifestyle and apparent social norms of these types of people. They all seem like super progressive kids. Maybe they’re just hearing [that stuff] in their favorite rap songs, but I just don’t find that creative or honest. There’s so much to give, there’s so much that you could sing about, and I think focusing on these clichés is, like you said, kind of a commodification. It turns the whole genre into a gimmick for me; it doesn’t have any substance other than the fact that it’s pitched up and it sounds fast. And I think that the nowadays hyperpop trend some artists have of trivializing violence is a real shame. It’s a real shame when there are so many genuine souls out there who have been victims of that type of lifestyle. I just don’t see why I would ever want to substitute listening to that for listening to fake toxicity.
Moving forward, I also want to hear about your new movement, LazyTown. Tell me everything there is to know about it.
juju: That one’s mostly on Rapallo; it’s really his baby. We both have a say in making that baby, I guess, but he’s the one giving birth to it. It’s an amalgamation of both of our styles coming together, just totally organically from living together, and struggling, and making stuff together, and surviving together. It’s an energy, really. It’s not just this forced aesthetic; it’s really the way we’re living our lives, just lazy, you know? It started off with LuxuryLiving, and I guess it’s evolved, maybe just because of the influence of the last 6, 7 months living in the UK, and what that’s brought with it.
I think the ideas of luxury and lazy are quite similar, especially the way me and Rapallo see it. He probably has his own way of explaining this, and he could probably do it more justice, but, it’s about not having to stress hard to do things in life that make you feel content. I think everyone’s looking for that, especially people like myself who feel like they’ve been through so much. I just want to be lazy. I don’t want to have to be working hard at all. I want it to come naturally.
Thanks so much, this is super exciting. I’m definitely excited to see what comes out of the LazyTown camp. Is there anything you want to say before wrapping up the interview?
juju: I just want to say thanks to yourself for asking the good questions, and for listening and appreciating the music. And thanks to everyone else who’s appreciated the music, even if it’s only been for a couple days, or five years. It means the world to me, really, when people get what I’m trying to do here. I’ve got a lot more stuff coming this year, and hopefully I’ll be playing shows all over the world — promoters, hit me up, book me. Keep your eyes on this space because we’re definitely about to take off, me and Rapallo, as soon as they open up the gates.
And I got a new project on the way as well, and a bunch of really interesting features, so, just watch this space.
Keep up to date with juju via his socials (listed below) and stay tuned for that forthcoming project!