Lewis OfMan Is the Life of the Party

Lewis OfMan Is the Life of the Party

Story by Matt Moen / Photography and styling by Evan Sheehan and Alex Wallbaum (of Breakfast for Dinner) / Makeup by Emily Wolf / Hair by Samuel Venchus

From an early age playing around with music apps on his mom's phone and tinkering around in GarageBand, Lewis OfMan knew he wanted to make music that people would party to. Whether it's a full-on glitter-soaked disco or a more intimate after-dinner soirée, the French multi-instrumentalist strives to provide a soundtrack for any night — and, as ambitious of a goal that may be, he's making headway.

Fresh off the release of his debut album, Sonic Poems, and a high-profile collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen, called "Move Me," the young producer has quickly emerged as one of the year's breakout talents with a brand of synth-pop that's upbeat, fun and complex without being overthought or inaccessible.

Incorporating elements of French touch, classic house and Italian disco, while occasionally straying into genres like UK bass, and drum and bass, OfMan's varied sounds share the goal of getting people to move. Full of bouncy bass lines, bright cheery chords and winding melodies, his music has already become a favorite of brands like Versace, Gucci, Nike, Diptyque, Kitsuné and J Weston.

Below, PAPER caught up with Lewis OfMan while waiting to catch his next flight to learn more about his process, breakout North American tour and what makes a perfect party.

Tank: Bike Athletic, Swimsuit: Barragán, Sunglasses: Takesh

You've been having a very big year. How are you feeling?

They're quite nice, I really love it. I love extraordinary adventures, so it's really nice. It's waiting for the wave, and then the wave appears and you ride it.

How did you get your start in music?

Basically, I was really into video games when I was a kid. My siblings are way older than I, so I would find myself with my two parents and sometimes it can be a little bit boring. So I would take my mother's phone because she had some video games on it and one of them was a really fun video game where you were making some tracks and some little musical loops. I would do my first tracks on this. And after I worked in GarageBand, I started a band with my friend I had at the time. I was like nine years old and we would take the back of CDs and sing the track list to make it sound like English.

Then I went to New York and learned the drums. I had a band when I was back in Paris and this was nice, but I found myself a keyboard and was like, "I can have my own ideas." I didn’t have to struggle and fight with the keyboard to do my idea, so I preferred to do it like this. Actually, during my school, I controlled the music of my band. I was like, "Hey, let's keep going," and the band was friends that didn't really want to do music, anyway.

So that's how I got into doing my tracks. Then it was like, "Let's post it on SoundCloud." And SoundCloud, when you upload a track, it asks for the artist name and I was like, "Woah, what's my artist name?’ I remembered my brother was playing this soccer video game where you create your own soccer player and he had our last name, which is Delhomme, on there in Español, which would make it, "Del Hombre." And he was like, "You know, in English, it's cool too. It's OfMan.” And I was like, "Lewis OfMan, that's a cool name."

Hat, robe, slippers and shorts: Bottega Veneta, Sunglasses: Jacquemus

How do you approach making music? Do you start with an idea? Or lyrics? Are you more gear focused?

Recently, it's more like I find myself doing something and I’m drawn to it. Every time I know what's going on, it's terrible. When you get a new piece of gear and going to do some stuff with it, you're not going to use it like it should be used. By doing these mistakes, you're going to be close to the zone of, "You don't know what's going on," next to, "You think you know what's going on." This leads to something really interesting where you're in the middle of two worlds fighting each other. I guess this is how you get into some interesting things because this fight takes over your fingers and creates some nice chords. You don't really know what's going on.

It's like vibing with someone. Sometimes you don't vibe with someone and you don't know why. Maybe because you're over-conscious of what's going on and sometimes you just fall in. Sometimes you think that working in a great space that looks good is a good idea. Well, this gives me pressure because I'm like, "It's a really nice view, I should make some really nice tracks." There's a bunch of stuff like this that makes your vision of creation quite blurred and this is why I love it. It's like being in love with someone that doesn't care about you. Suffering, that's how you make tracks.

Along similar lines, even from the past two singles, your sound varies from synth-pop to UK bass and everything in-between. What sets a Lewis OfMan track apart?

One of the feelings I'm trying to push — or one of the common things in those tracks — is a desire that these tracks should be the tracks to be played at a dinner party when you finish eating and they go, "Hey, let's put some music!" I'm trying to create the music that those people are going to put on first, and everyone stands up and dances. I will say that's a common thing about all those tracks. Even if there's a different style, there's the same kind of module inside of them.

Shirt: Balenciaga, Shorts: Palm Angels, Shoes: Axel Arigato, Hat: Nahmias

What makes a perfect party for you?

Totally out of control. You set everything up so that it can be really nice, but then everything falls apart and you don't know what's going on. This challenge makes the party iconic.

What music influences your work?

In the end, it's not so much all the French touch. Of course, there's a little bit of that probably because of my parents. There's a lot of Italian music from the '60s and '70s. You mix this also with a lot of electronic music, a lot of soul music — a bunch of stuff like this that makes me dream or makes me dance. We have this mix of dreaming while dancing.

Sweater: Celine, Sunglasses: Szade, (On Lifeguard) Celine

What has made you dance recently?

Recently, I'm quite into the OG dubstep, like 2007, that comes straight from London. People like Mala. They would do some crazy dubstep tracks with crazy bass, and there's like a funky drum samples going on or whatever. This is getting me hyped up, it's really nice. It really gets your shoulders moving.

What do you hope people take away from your work?

Someone yesterday told me that she had her own feelings applied to my songs and this is what I want. I try to do my music like an airport, so you get there and you can travel wherever you want. The airport should be well-built, so that you can go easily to your gates and not have to wait 25 minutes at customs like I just did.

What do you see being on the horizon for you?

I know a little bit more about what I want in terms of music, especially these days. I’m making a second album that is something more precise. Sonic Poems, that sequence was more like the population of my musical life in a way. From the business side this had to be out so that people could get it. Now, I can experiment more. This is what I see. Maybe somewhere on the best vacation. Once the tour is over, I will go somewhere. Maybe LA, that would be nice.

Shirt: Versace, Pants: Los Angeles Apparel, Sunglasses: Szade

Since it's the most recent single, let's talk about the Carly Rae Jepsen track. What was that experience like for you?

I believe a cousin showed my music to her, from what I remember, and then we met to work on her album and then she was like, "Hey love, I love your music. I would like to try some stuff with you," so we made a bunch of tracks. This was over Zoom. It was during COVID where it would be like 7 PM or 8 PM for me, and it would be 10 for her and we would talk about our lives, daily things, love things and then we would make tracks about it.

Then I moved to Florence, Italy, and I had a special night with this person. It was a nice love moment. I made a track, which was "Move Me," it was me singing the whole track with the piano. I had a session with Carly the day after and I was like, "Hey Carly, I made this track. Let me know what you think." And she was like, "I love this music so much, this is it." And that's how the song came up. She recorded her voice, sent it to me and then we released it. It just makes sense, like she just gets it. We have a nice chemistry.

How has your debut North American tour been?

I'm really excited. It's so nice, all the shows are insane. I'm getting into all sorts of trouble.

Tank: Calvin Klein, Shorts: Helmut Lang

Stream Sonic Poems by Lewis OfMan, below.

Photography and styling: Evan Sheehan and Alex Wallbaum (of Breakfast for Dinner)
Makeup: Emily Wolf
Hair: Samuel Venchus
Photo assistant: Mo Fritz
Casting: 10 MGMT
Models: Stephanie Jones and Mia McDermott


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