This article originally appeared in ‘Hypebeast Magazine Issue 32: The Fever Issue.’ Please visit HBX to grab your copy.
Nothing fazes Destroy Lonely. “I always imagined myself doing things larger than what a normal life would be,” the 22-year-old artist says with an easy, unpracticed nonchalance that belies his age. Lonely, as his fans call him, is certainly having a year that’s “larger than normal life.” When he sat down with us, he was preparing for his second tour of the year, following the release of a 26-song project, modeling gigs with Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, and a collaboration with 1017 ALYX 9SM.
Lonely first picked up a microphone in middle school, and later garnered a loyal following with viral tracks like “Bane” and “No Stylist.” He’s signed to fellow iconoclast Playboi Carti’s Opium record label, and is building out a mysterious world of his own that rivals his mentor’s, thanks to his recent LP If Looks Could Kill—a pinboard of sonic styles and reference points. “I download everything everywhere,” he says of the project’s wide-ranging influences, running the gamut from horror films and video games, to alternative rock. Lonely’s even got an alter ego, the sinister, masked “Look Killa,” who starred in a short horror film of the same name. “It’s part of me,” he says when asked about the character and his creative process. “I just keep pushing the boundaries of what people know music to be. I don’t see limits in music.”
Before embarking on the Antagonist Tour this fall with Carti and the rest of his Opium label mates, Destroy Lonely weighed in on how his unreleased music is akin to private diary entries, style manifestation, and his personal methods for staying grounded as his profile continues to skyrocket.
Let’s talk about your album If Looks Could Kill. What makes this record special?
I was staying in New York for the whole month and a half that I was working on it. I had all my producers in the studio with me, as well as my girlfriend and best friends. It was really fun. I was watching a bunch of horror movies. I was putting my whole life on my sleeve for the moment, just making music from the heart.
How does this album represent who you are as an artist?
The album represents a transitional period in my life where I was seeing, hearing, and being inspired by a bunch of different experiences. That’s what I wanted to present to the world—a download of experiences and inspirations that I hold true to myself.
Masks are a major theme in the album’s visuals. Where do they come from and how do they connect to your universe?
That’s the “Look Killa” mask, and I’m the Look Killa. It’s part of me. The mask is coming with me for the rest of this journey, and will be something I wear on tour. I want to expand [the motif] to a larger universe, whether through short films or full-length movies.1 of 2
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How is this character a different presentation of yourself?
The Look Killa is a version of me that doesn’t hear the world’s opinions and thoughts. He just wants to put out music. Sometimes, I let things get in my ear and it throws me off a little bit. But the Look Killa gives no fucks.
If Looks Could Kill is 26 tracks long, but you have hundreds of unreleased songs. What do you intend to do with all the extra material?
My friends and I make so much music. We have so many different feelings and vibes. I hope I’m able to release it all to the world one day. Every song I ever made is a diary entry. Some of them are sent to the world and some of them I keep to myself.
I’ve had like three, four, five different tracklists for every project I’ve ever made. I thought out If Looks Could Kill for the past two years of my life. Same with No Stylist. I was ready to let people hear those songs because I elevated them to a point where it made sense to release them. I have certain steps I want to take, and after those are complete I’m like, “This is it. I’m ready to show this.”
You recently dropped “Turn Your Phone Off” with Pinkpantheress. How is collaborating with another artist different from working solo, and what was that process like?
I think she wanted me on it for a while, and I had always wanted to make a song with her. I was in New York, she pulled up and played the song, and I put a verse on it. It was a quick but really good and insightful session. It’s always fun to work with different artists who make different music from me, seeing their creative processes, and learning about where they find their sound.1 of 3
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What are some other music influences that have made their way into your material?
Right now, I like a bunch of alternative rock sounds. I got a bunch of unreleased songs with different types of electronic instrumentals and rhythmic-type beats. I try to make all types of music when I’m in the studio. I don’t just make rap songs.
Where do you find inspiration outside music?
I play a bunch of video games. That’s not to say that I like video game noises in my music, but worlds that are cre- ated in video games are extremely crazy to me. They’re always 100% creative. Worlds that are created in movies, movie soundtracks, or the vibes that movies curate inspire me, as well. Same goes for different architecture and technology in the world. I just keep my eyes open.
Do you want your music to be relatable, even after you’ve reached this level of success?
When I’m in the booth and I’m making a song, I want it to be relatable. I still have personal challenges, financial chal- lenges, and goals I’m trying to reach. People who are in the same place will be able to accept it. I don’t actively try to be relatable to people who aren’t going through the same things as me, though, because that wouldn’t be who I am.
How did you get interested in fashion?
Since I was a kid, I always loved clothes. When I didn’t have money, I was wearing black skinny jeans and denim jackets from H&M. I’d play video games like Grand Theft Auto and dress how I wanted to look through my character in the game. I’d also study clothes and I spent time learning about a whole bunch of different brands, creative directors, and designers. I got visions of how I want to look and I’m now able to completely live in those visions. The way I dress right now is how I wanted to dress my whole life.
“I don’t have a stylist. I don’t believe in stylists. I dress myself 25/8.”
How often do you style yourself?
I don’t have a stylist. I don’t believe in stylists. I dress myself 25/8. When I’m doing photoshoots, I’m wearing my own clothes, picking out my own clothes, doing everything myself.
What’s your mindset when you put together a fit?
What would be the most Bobby [Destroy Lonely’s given first name] shit to wear? Fuck Destroy Lonely. I think about what resonates with me as a person and then I put it on.
How did your collaboration with Matthew Williams and 1017 ALYX 9SM come about? What’s your relationship with Matthew like?
I can’t even recall the first time I spoke to Matthew. Now, we talk every couple of weeks or so. I appreciate that relationship because it’s helping me dive deeper into the fashion world. Every time I link up with him, I learn something. I remember I used to watch 1017 ALYX 9SM fashion shows while sleeping on my homie’s couch in LA. I would buy all the 1017 ALYX 9SM. I loved that brand. I still do to this day.
Will you be expanding your reach in fashion?
I got my own brand that I want to dive into. I feel like that’s something to continue as my career goes on. I’m going to have a whole world beyond music.
“I’m a world. Ken Carson is a world. Playboi Carti’s a world. Homixide Gang is their own world. Opium is the universe for all that.”
You’ve accomplished a lot this year. How do you stay grounded as your profile continues to rise?
My streaming numbers have risen. My shows have gotten crazier. Other than that, it’s all the same to me. I don’t feel like I have a higher profile or like I’m anybody different than where I was last year or the year before. I try to stay true to who I am, and always remember that I’m doing this to feed the people I feed and help the people I need to help, not to be famous or just have fun.
One of your lyrics is, “And I’d throw all this shit away if I can’t give it to none of my homies.” What do your friends mean to you?
My friends are some of the most important people in my life. I’m inspired by them. They keep me on the right path. They always show me new stuff. I’ve got friends who don’t make music. I’ve got friends who are smarter than me, richer than me. I learn from everybody the same way that I learn from the world.
In the past, you’ve called Ken Carson your twin. Can you tell us more about that relationship dynamic?
Ken is one of my best friends. He’s with me damn near every day. Right now, we’re both going through some of the same things and we come from the same places. A lot of people aren’t able to take their friends with them on this journey. A lot of people start acting weird. We were friends before this shit, and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna be friends after.
What’s been the biggest change in your life since your career blew up?
I’ve wanted to [be a musician] since I was a kid, so it’s not really anything that’s extremely new or shocking to me, but I am trying to get used to having fans hold me up so highly. Everything that I was doing before has gotten larger.
You have tour dates with Playboi Carti and the rest of the Opium label throughout the fall. How do you unwind while touring?
Tour is probably when I’m most active and most ready to go. I just love being on the road and visiting different places and seeing all my fans going crazy. It’s another learning experience.
What do you think makes being part of the Opium world so special for fans and for you personally?
I’m a world. Ken is a world. Carti’s a world. Homixide Gang is their own world. Opium is the universe for all that. For me personally, Opium is a family. For my fans, this is another thing for them to be a part of.
Net Hoodie: Jil Sanders
Pants: Rick Owens
Leather boots: Rick Owens
Jewelry: His own
Fur Jacket: GmbH
Tank top: Rick Owens
Leather snake Pants: Balenciaga
Fur boots: Rick Owens
Jewelry: His own
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