Introducing: Bored Lord

Henry Ivry links up with California-based DJ/producer Bored Lord to talk pop edits, finding a sense of shared politics, purpose, and community in dance music culture, paving new paths for trans artists, and more.

12 min
Daria 03272022 78 1
Jun 26, 2023
·
By
Henry Ivry

Daria Lourd better known to the world via her DJ and production alias Bored Lord is a product of the renegade internet and queer DIY collectives. You can hear this in her music, where she’s just as comfortable turning out a Mariah Carey edit as she is acid-flecked breaks. Her music, that is, draws from the past decade and change of internet culture alongside dance music’s long history, mixing UK and US club history with a digital fluency.

While this may seem like a lot of material to work with, Lourd culls through various memes and genre signifiers with the devotion of an evangelical. All her tracks look for that sense of emotional release that sometimes only a hearty dose of nostalgia can bring. When I ask her about her propensity for drawing from some of the less cool corners of millennial music culture as source material (she has a full mixtape dedicated to nu-metal flips, for example), she points out that this is part and parcel of dance music’s history.

“My generation is revisiting our teenage music. This is a thing that happens in your late 20s, early 30s – somehow that nostalgia comes back to you, and you don’t care if it’s corny,” she explains. “This is fun and what dance music has always been. Pop and dance music are connected in such a long way; it’s just that we now have access to every acappella.”

It’s this question of access that points to the importance of digital culture for Lourd. Growing up in Memphis, there was a limited music scene. There were plenty of rap and scuzzy guitar rock bands (she played in punk bands from the age of 15 onwards), but this was the late aughts and internet connection speeds were getting faster around the same time that she got her first drum machine in 2010. Very quickly, she “abandoned everything else and got into loop pedals and thrift store keyboard finds.”

Check out Bored Lord’s ‘Summer Psalms’ chart on Beatport.
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This led her into forming the collective Rare Nnudes. Equal parts IRL and online, it was a collective that brought a punk, DIY ethic to the world of electronics. Releasing a flurry of music – from noise to techno to trap – it was an experiment in what happens when people who aren’t united by a sound, but a sense of community come together. As Lourd explains to me, “This was the early 2010s. The internet was changing electronic music in a really intense way – everyone was pirating Ableton and Fruity Loops and the sample packs of all these genres were in the same place. SoundCloud and Bandcamp were just born. There were Facebook groups. The internet hadn’t shifted into the weird monster it is now, and all these genres were just mashing together and breaking open for the first time.”

Lourd is remembering that brief utopian moment of Web 2.0. This was back in the pre-Cambridge Analytics era when social media seemed if not exactly revolutionary, at least radical – like it was trying to connect people in alternate ways rather than just turn us into data metrics for marketing companies. As this was happening, Lourd’s music was changing drastically.

Her releases from this era run the gamut from whimsy electronica to dubstep, from footwork to broken hip-hop beats. Put out under the Rare Nnudes banner, these releases were influenced by her three major touchstones at the time – the post-dubstep/post-garage UK scene (think Hessle Audio, Hemlock, Hotflush), the ascendancy of the Teklife crew, and the LA beat scene centered around the Low End Theory. At the same time, she was becoming more and more drawn to the Bay Area where it seemed like a whole other scene was exploding.

Also in Rare Nnudes was Bastiengoat (aka Julian Edwards), who represented the West Coast contingent of the collective. On a whim in 2016, she packed her bags to hang with Edwards in Oakland and has stayed ever since. When she arrived in the Bay, she was immersed in a world that was similarly carnivorous with its aesthetic tastes. “At the time, it felt like new people were taking the reins,” she remembers. “What had happened in the Bay before was the rave scene was run by these older white men, but now it was tons of people of color, queer people, trans people that were learning to DJ for the first time and it felt like new influences were being thrown into the mix.”

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She describes the sound that was emerging in the Bay around this time as “proto-club music.” Like Rare Nnudes, it was more about friendship rather than shared musical tastes. You can hear this in the types of people who were central to the scene – Jasmine Infiniti‘s New World Disorder was still in the Bay as was 8ULENTINA and Lara Sarkissian‘s long-running party and label Club Chai. Lourd also hooked up with the label Knightwerk and together, these crews became the epicenter of an experimental underground on the West Coast: “If you went to see a bunch of DJs you’d hear Baltimore Club, Baile Funk, ballroom, grime, and rap all in the same night and it’d be normal.”

As exciting as all this was, Lourd also points out that this moment was in the wake of tragedy. The Ghost Ship Warehouse fire occurred at the end of 2016 and resulted in the deaths of 36 people and a huge crackdown from the police on illegal parties. Lourd didn’t directly know anyone involved but moving to the Bay at this time meant that “the whole scene was mourning.” This “tone of mourning” meant that there was a sense of urgency to everything that people were doing. Having already lost so much, they didn’t know how much longer they would actually have a scene for.

The frenetic creativity and energy from this period is, in many ways, a memorial to those lost in the fire. But like all scenes, this slowly came to an end just before the pandemic. The loss of DIY spaces, continued gentrification in the Bay Area, and a whole host of new punters and promoters who, as Lourd explains, “didn’t understand the context of the partying,” meant that the scene started to die out around 2019.

And while Lourd had begun to make a name for herself in the California underground, this could have easily been the end of her story. But instead, when COVID hit, she got busier and busier. “I was there in the era of early SoundCloud when you’d put out everything,” she explains. “When everything was shut down, you couldn’t go to the club […] and during that time, a lot of people stopped because they couldn’t imagine the context. I went the opposite way, and I’m just going to put out everything that is arranged – why not?”

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As people continued to experiment with Zoom happy hours and metaverse raves, Lourd amassed a larger and larger online following. Her music became more focused – drawing together experimental club references (e.g. Night Slugs and Fade to Mind), golden era jungle and American acid house (she reminds me that Larry Heard is from Memphis after all). But her background in DIY scenes also meant that she wanted to think about how to turn this following from an impassive fanbase, into something more interactive. She’d release an edit or a track and leave it on her Bandcamp page for just 24 hours. “I kind of think of it like small pressings,” she explains. “If you made an edit with a record back in the day, you could press 100 and drop it off at the small record shops. Well, here is a small window for people to grab it and pass it around which encourages participation and a different kind of digging culture that is maybe lost sometime in the digital era.”

This paid off. One of the tracks she put out got the attention of Eris Drew who told her that she’d like to release it as part of her T4T Luv NRG label she runs with Octo Octa – ground zero of the American queer scene. Lourd quickly jumped at the opportunity, putting out a record and joining the same booking agency. She now finds herself catapulted into a completely new dance music world. When we speak, she’s just gotten back from playing Sonar and FOLD and only has a few weeks at home before she is back on the European festival circuit where she’ll play at some of the biggest parties and clubs in the world.

While moving in these sorts of circles might be disorienting, Lourd tells me that she feels an energy akin to the beginning of her time in the Bay when it wasn’t genre that united the people she was hanging out with, but a larger political sense of what they were doing. Working with Eris Drew and Octo Octa, “it reminds me of the ethos and us being friends and having the same ideas rather than the same genres. We’re all just trying to pave the way for there to be trans artists in the broader sense rather than genre.” This is a through line in her work – Lourd knows that building a scene is just as important as building any specific sound.

Bored Lord’s new album 3213123 is out now. Buy it on Beatport.

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