In the fall of 2015, Robby Hauldren and Freddy Kennett, who make music as Louis the Child, were on tour in support of The Chainsmokers. One day in the vicinity of Illinois, Kennett joined the Chainsmokers' Andrew Taggart to fiddle with some music on the tour bus; the two men came up with a drop and then continued on with their lives. That drop later appeared in the Chainsmokers' "Closer," which spent all of September, October, and most of November at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
So it's gone for Louis the Child, who are preparing to release a new EP, Love Is Alive, on March 24th. This duo has enjoyed a casually charmed life since 2015, the year that their song "It's Strange" was included by Taylor Swift in a mix of songs titled "New Songs That Will Make Your Life Awesome (I Promise)." The makers of FIFA 2016 agreed with Swift's diagnosis and picked "It's Strange" for the videogame's soundtrack, delivering Louis the Child to soccer fans alongside established hitmakers like Disclosure and Kygo.
The following year, the duo embarked on their first headlining tour, showing their ability to please multiple demographics by performing at both events tailored for electronic music fans -- Diplo's Mad Decent Block Party, Electric Zoo -- and festivals like Lollapalooza and Governor's Ball that are more tailored to unfocused browsing. In addition, they collaborated with the Swedish duo Icona Pop on "Weekend," which was picked up by Atlantic's Big Beat Records; Big Beat specializes in releasing electronic music that ends up in the top 40, with a roster of crossover acts like Clean Bandit, Matoma, and Robin Schulz.
Love Is Alive is coming out through Ultra Music, another electronic music label with a history of pop success. But Louis the Child didn't collect a series of adrenaline-boosting cuts for their new release; in fact, Kennett suggests their heavy touring has actually taught them the value of making music on the relaxing end of the spectrum. "It's definitely shown us how things go off in a live setting," he says. "But I also feel like we understand the importance of having songs that are more mellow and don't feel like they have to be the craziest live thing ever."
"Each song [on the EP] has its own flavor, but it's still ours," he continues. "I think people are going to get that. You're still going to feel like it's one Louis the Child. It's our writing style that people are going to hear."
Still, the duo enjoys pitching curve balls -- "We like to throw off people with our releases," Kennett acknowleges -- so the first song on Love is Alive is a surprise relative to the duo's past work: "Go" comes with separate, interlocking parts, tempo changes, and a linear rock bassline. The track came together when the two were "just messing around" between studio sessions. "That's the first one I'm really singing on," Kennett adds. "It's exciting to have my voice on a track. With 'From Here' I sung on it, but it wasn't so much a vocal-centered song as this one is. I love the indie vibe there. It's like Two Door Cinema Club mixed with our drums."
The most forceful number on Love Is Alive is "Phone Died," a head-nodding collaboration with the rapper Blaise. "I was listening to so much '90s rap: Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Eric B. & Rakim," Hauldren remembers. "I had this sample pack of a bunch of tape-y, vinyl-sounding drums, so 'Phone Died' came together like a '90s rap song." He starts singing the hook over the phone -- "Would've called my mom but my phone died -- shit!" "Everyone in the house was screaming along with that when we recorded it," he adds.
Elsewhere, the duo makes sure to appease fans who originally fell for "It's Strange" or "Weekend." Four of the songs here feature gentle singers -- Elohim, Evalyn, Chelsea Cutler, Ashe -- who help Louis the Child create cloudless, mid-tempo tunes. Two of these have already been well-received: "Fire," which includes contributions from Evalyn, cracked Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic songs chart; "Love Is Alive" followed suit last month.
This duo creates quickly, and Kennett suggests that there is a lot more where this came from. "We write really fast," he asserts. "We finished the EP a while ago, and we have so much music that we're sitting on. We want it out!"