Coming off the opening show of his Sub-Urban Tour in Memphis, TN, we caught up with Don Lifted to talk through the anticipation of bringing his sound across the US.
Don Lifted is a multi-talented, visual artist ranging from paintings and photography to ready made sculptures and murals. His music is a mixture of hip-hop, alternative rock, and electronic music that tells a story of past relationships, vulnerability, obsession, and depression. His music embodies melodic sounds that enable you to feel and emotionally invest in his story.
Check out our conversation below and find out when he’ll be in a city near you.
You’ve done shows all over Memphis, and they’ve all been amazing! What are your feelings about taking your sound, your aesthetic, your brand essentially all around the country?
At the start I was very nervous. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but towards making the tour public my imposter syndrome started to override all of the numbers I’d been following to show was it was even possible. I’m not signed, I don’t have PR, or an agent, it’s very much myself and a small group of believers pushing these visions and ideas forward. Doing things without a machine can be very difficult and as the artist you have to carry a lot more, mentally, physically and financially. I’m just thankful people keep supporting something so niche and concept driven. I’m really excited to get out there and share, whether thats 10 people or 1000.
What sets this tour aside from your past performances?
I didn’t perform often unless it was to introduce a new record or a new visual component to what I was doing musically. I think a lot of the previous shows were to build the brand and the official-ness of what I did. Let niggas know I was about it. I wanted to do shit nobody had done before in the city. Doing a show in the Rotunda at MCA before it closed, doing shows at museums, finding unknown or boring places and transforming them completely; that was something I felt was creating a legacy and iconic aspect to my musical existence. It was about my story but it was also a lot about the stories people will tell about seeing me, if that makes sense.
Now…it’s really about me telling this story in locations where people haven’t had the chance to see me. I was blessed enough to have some records do well in terms of streaming and I wanted to come see those people. It’s very much a therapy tour and closing a door on a narrative that I’m no longer living. Also each show will be different with different set lists and ways of approaching the records and visual aspects. I tell people its me seeing “the thing through”, I guess the thing being this Don Lifted shit.
Do you have a routine to ready yourself for a performance or do you just go out on stage full force and show what the girls should’ve did?
Hahaha yes and no. I try and relax, drink 90 percent water for 30 days leading up to the shows. No diary, no spicy food the week of. Practice 3 days a week for 4 weeks and I watch videos of Frank Ocean live until I fall asleep in nights before lol. This go round its been a lot of exercises in emotional control. I used to have really physically or emotionally exhausting shows. I’d cry, I’d dance and yell but now I’m trying to get my James Blake on. I’m trying to sit, sing and work these vocal effects and plugins. As I’m getting older and further separated from the two albums narrative I’ve assumed a more laid back intellectual position through the healing vs the very emotional (I’m still hurting and living this shit) position I once had.
Getting on stage can be hard for me at times. Sometimes I revel in it and other times I want to run away and never come back to town. I had a lot of anxiety before this first date. I spent a lot of hours in a bath tub with incense burning to try and stay chill… I don’t think it helped much, I was shaking at moments and that hadn’t happened since I first started doing shows. This one meant more to me.
Many artist take on a sort of “alter-ego” type thing when they’re performing. Don Lifted of course is your rapper name. Lawrence is your birth name. How do you separate the two? Are they the same person?
I think Don Lifted is a time period in Lawrence Matthews’ life. I also think it’s a place to experiment musically for me. It’s not hiphop, it’s not alt rock, it’s whatever I decide it is for the moment. I make music under Lawrence Matthews… but it ain’t time for people to hear it yet.
What city are you most excited to play in?
Brooklyn, just because I haven’t explored the NYC area how I want. Also my San Fran show is in the Haight Ashbury so I’m super excited to be in that area with all of its historical moments in counterculture and what San Fran means for people of queer identity. I think it’s going to be a beautiful reflective Vibe.
Besides your sound equipment and set props.. if you could only bring one thing with you on tour.. what would it be?
My 2004 BMW 325i.
The Sub-Urban Tour with Don Lifted
Memphis – Sept 21st
Brooklyn – Oct 19th
San Francisco – Dec 6th
Los Angeles – Dec 7th
Memphis – Dec 21st
Jackson – TBA
Baltimore – TBA
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Stay tuned to @donlifted on Instagram for more information.