Lonr. is going to be a problem in the R&B game, if he already isn’t. Born in California but raised in Cape Cod, the “Safe Zone” artist has been making noise behind-the-scenes as a songwriter and producer, working closely with the Bay Area’s own H.E.R. Together, they’d win 2 Grammys and a nomination for Album of the Year.
The name stands for Land of Nothing Real, a concept that arose from his upbringing in Massachusetts as a true loner and always keeping to himself. While this feeling of isolation comes with pros and cons, he’d go on to teach himself how to produce and play instruments in his bedroom.
The 23-year-old describes himself as an “unpredictable, fun, silly but serious at the same time” type of person. At the end of last year, he unleashed his standout debut single titled “A.M.”, which went viral on Tik Tok and Spotify’s Top 5 US Viral Chart. Additionally, he wrapped up an entire sold out tour with YBN Cordae.
Flaunt Mag caught up Lonr. who was quarantined in New York to discuss his sound, upbringing in Cape Cod, touring with YBN Cordae, friendship with 24kgoldn, and more!
Talk about your name being inspired by feeling like a loner.
Growing up as a kid, I didn’t really have an actual place to stay. I was born in California, but I was sleeping couch to couch with my mom. We ended up moving to Massachusetts in high school. I always felt disconnected from everybody because I was moving around so much when I was young. I’d usually stay in my own imagination: constantly imagining things, editing things in real life. In my head, making that make-believe whatever it was. Being in that environment as a kid, it was a foundation of my creativity. I call it the Land of Nothing Real, the land beside your head. The universe of endless creation and endless possibility.
How would you describe your sound?
Very diverse. When it comes to making and listening to music, I don’t like to box anything. I keep everything as broad as possible. I’ll listen to rock, R&B, rap, alternative. Whatever it is, as long as it hits me in my soul. As long as I feel it in my chest, I’ll mess with it. My favorite thing about music is the melody. The feeling itself, whatever the arrangement of instruments in that song that make me feel some type of way. Sometimes there’s a song you have to listen to a little bit, then it gets good. You’re like “okay I can listen to this again.” Then there’s other songs where the first 5 seconds, “this is about to be a slapper.”
What was it like being born in Cali and raised in Cape Cod?
It was difficult at first. It was a new environment for me and Cape Cod isn’t that diverse. There weren’t a lot of faces to resonate with, as I did back in California. I created my group of friends. At first, it was tough finding who I am as a person. Finding my niche when it came to being with people. As time went on, I got my group of friends. Once your imagination goes and you stop playing in the yard with sticks and stones, you find other things to do. It was definitely a party scene. We partied a lot in high school. We’d do fun things, whatever kept the brain flowing. I was definitely the adrenaline junkie, still am.
At what point did the music thing become real for you?
Right after high school. I got a software and a keyboard at my house, I’d mess with that all the time. I made a song. I sent it to my big bro out here, he said “I think you’re ready to come to New York and start getting into studio sessions.” He actually showed that song to H.E.R. and she was vibing to the song. She invited me to do a writing session. We became really good friends.
How’s working with H.E.R.? Who’s one of the most talented female singers.
She’s insane. She’s literally one person who really appreciates music as much as I do. When we get in, it’s fun. When you’re in the studio, there could be pressure because everything might be put on to you. Someone might not elevate you, but getting into the session with H.E.R. is constant elevation. One of my favorite environments. Taking a break from life, getting in your zone.
Talk about switching from songwriter to artist, because now you have H.E.R. on your new single.
The process was simultaneous. As I was writing for H.E.R and other artists, I’d use those situations to have studio time for myself. I write for someone here, then they’d need studio time to help me with a song. I’d first create it back at home, or I’d work on the spot with these 2 producers I always work with. We’d go fast. I’d use my writing abilities to get favors to make stuff for myself, then I started creating music. It was a simultaneous effort.
How’s it feel to have 2 Grammy noms at such a young age?
It still feels surreal, just being able to say it. It’s definitely a blessing. H.E.R blessing me with those opportunities and letting me come to those writing camps and studio sessions. It feels really good to say I have that under my belt.
You said “Make The Most” is a song that needs to be heard. Why’s that?
In my observations of the industry, I’m seeing the same type of motto being pushed around. “I’ma do me! I’m closed off, I’m not going to love anybody. Fuck that person, fuck this!” It’s cool, we all have those feelings. We all get in our moods, we have mood swings. No one has the same mood all the time. I believe in balance, and yin and yang. I want to be part of that balance to push love into the industry, someone who’s not afraid to really make music and be vulnerable. You can listen to this when you’re mad at somebody, feeling like fuck the world. You can listen to this when you feel the opposite.
Did a certain female inspire this record?
I use past relationships, past feelings, and mixed them all. It wasn’t anybody I was focused on at that time, I tapped into feelings that I felt before.
How’s quarantine life treating you?
Whew, I’m trying to adjust. I’ve created a lot of songs acoustically on my guitar. I’ve been playing guitar a lot, about to get some studio equipment too. Music is definitely my escape in times like this. I can create, that’s the best thing. I’m trying to stay on top of my sessions, keep up with the fans and talk to everybody. Talk to the family. We’re isolated and under quarantine, but doesn’t mean we have to be alone.
Where are you located?
I’m actually in New York. I live in Brooklyn. Right now, it’s dead. It feels like I’m in a dystopian society, nobody’s walking around.
Are you enjoying Tik Tok?
A lot, that’s definitely one thing that’s getting me through the quarantine. Every time I go down my Tik Tok feed, I die laughing. It gives me ideas for my own. Even from the success of “A.M.,” Tik Tok is a monster. “A.M.” itself has over 2.4 million videos made from it, which blew it up on streaming services.
What did “A.M.” do for you career?
It created the fanbase. While I was simultaneously doing the writing thing and creating my own artistry, I was building a fan base at the same time. “A.M.” blew that through the roof. Back home, everyone says “yo, my little sister does dances to your songs!” They know me from that song. Now I can push whatever it is I want to push. I have that core fanbase ready, it helped a lot.
Best memory touring with YBN Cordae?
The last day of the tour in Dallas, the whole day was amazing. We pulled up, me and my squad were in the sprinter that whole time. There was a festival going on, you couldn’t even drive down that street faster than 5 miles an hour. I opened the sliding door and let my feet hang. We’re chillin’, it was a vibe. I even did a video where I hopped out the car, started doing dances and hopped back in. Before soundcheck, Cordae’s like “we’re all at the YMCA.” 24kgoldn and his team were there, he said “come pull up and play basketball.” We all had a pick-up game and played basketball until the show. We had a kickass show. I performed a song I had created with 24kgoldn called “Lit.”
That’s the homie! Talk about creating “Lit” together.
He’s cool as hell, I love his personality. We’re in Atlanta, we had a day off from the tour. I booked studio time so I could get a placement of all the songs. I was listening through to the whole EP. I got an email from somebody, a whole catalog of music. I went through it and said “this is the one.” I did the hook, then 24kgoldn pulled up. As soon as he heard the song, he didn’t say anything else. He hopped in the booth, put the headphones on, started rapping his part. I said “bro this is fire, we should honestly perform this.” We performed it the next day at the show. It really was lit, they’re at the show jumping around like they already knew it.
What can we expect from the new EP?
Definitely a diverse style of music. I’m a versatile artist. For the first EP, I want everyone to see how dynamic my music can be. I have a ballad in there, a mid-tempo, a couple high tempo, rock songs, R&B songs. It’s a widespread of music but it’s all cohesive, so you really get to know who I am.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
One of my goals is to be 30 under 30, whenever it happens. I want to make a collab song with Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean, that’s on my bucket list. As an artist, I want to see myself elevating constantly. I hope to see a change in me and a change in other people. I want to make someone want that change in themselves. If someone comes up to me and says “this song changed my life” — whatever impact I can make on someone’s life, that’s the goal for me.
Anything you want to let us know?
I got the EP dropping, Land of Nothing Real. It’s going to be lit, no pun intended, Be safe, be cautious while we’re quarantined.