Springing from Chicago’s pool of burgeoning talent comes a very special someone we are excited to introduce to you all. Meet singer, songwriter, and producer, L.A. VanGogh.
Born Edgar Lamant Anderson Jr., the young vocalist began exploring his career at age 6, by writing songs and poetry in his spare time. During his teenage years, L.A. followed in the steps of his idol and fellow Chicago native Lupe Fiasco, using his own experience as his main subject matter while touching on notions of insecurities, triumphs and failures, self-acceptance and exploring one’s identity.
L.A released his first mixtape during the summer of 2015, a 15-track compilation called The Vinyl, which he wrote, recorded and produced entirely on his own. Recently, he teamed up with producer Ambi Lyrics to form production duo SafeNSound. Together they premiered safeNsound Presents: L.A. VanGogh, a versatile, genre-melding body of work, full of electro synths, hip-hop veracity, Frank Ocean lyricism, and Kendrick-esque vocal stunts.
Watch his new video “Numb” off of safeNsounds EP, followed by an introductory Q+A.
Who is L.A. VanGogh?
That’s a deep way to start the conversation. Welp, L.A. VanGogh is a vulnerable enigma. I’ll leave it that. What an oxymoron, huh?
How did your artist name come about?
So, when I was 15-ish, I was in a hip-hop group called “The McFly’s” (yes, I know. I cringe, too). It was Mari, Varo, and me. We rapped and produced together. Anyway, in one of our songs I wrote a line that went “I’m the Da Vinci of 16’s, the Van Gogh of the flow/paint a picture in your head when I write it like Poe.” And from then on they would jokingly call me VanGogh. After we had decided to split the squad, the name just stuck with me. I felt like I was always good at being visual with my diction.
How would you define your sound?
I think my latest pseudonym “shpeshftr” sums up my sounds. It morphs between storytelling hip-hop, house, jazz, little bit of feels (lol), and neo-soul. I always felt like my music was like the soundtrack to a movie about a huge spaceship shaped like a Cadillac. The Caddy fully equipped with plush red seats and gold trimming; it’s always like 2 a.m. in my music. My music feels like 2 a.m. a lot of the time.
How has Chicago played a role in your career?
It has everything to do with the artist I’ve become. The competition here for…well, ANYTHING…is HIGH. Sports and spoken word are the two most competitive scenes to which I’ve been exposed. My roots are in the open mic scene at places like UIC’s Mojo’s Pen, YCA’s Wordplay, Depaul’s SoulFo Mondays. These are the places where I’ve met phenomenal writers that have made me care about every word that I write. It’s hard to impress in Chicago. If you can win a crowd here, you’re doing well. My favorite rapper of all time is from here, Michael Young History himself, Lupe Fiasco. He’s the first rapper that truly inspired me and basically taught me. Lupe was the first artist I had heard to balance smarts, wit, and substance. I was able to relate to him. And also, 3 of my current favorite rappers have roots here: Real T@lk, Kiem Nicoli, and Defcee. (squad squad)
Where do you draw most of your inspiration for the music you make?
In list form: Electric Piano. Music Theory. Digable Planets. Outkast. D’Angelo. Frank Ocean. Earl Sweatshirt. Jay ElecHannukah. Kendrick Lamar. Spoken Word. My family. My goals. My friends. Oppression. Politics. Identity Conflicts. House Music. Stage Plays. Comedy. Whack artists that just take up space.
Tell us something that most people wouldn’t be able to guess about you?
I engineer my own music and I’ve never seen…STAR WARS.