Cool. That’s one way to describe Wes James, better known by his stage name Le Youth. It’s also the name of his most popular song (stylized as “C O O L”), which has racked up over 30 million plays on Spotify and earned him a spot in this year’s Coachella lineup.
On Thursday night, Le Youth will perform his signature blend of R&B and ’90s house music at U Street Music Hall. The concert is part of the cross-country tour preceding the October debut of his new label Homewerk.
We spoke with Le Youth about the concert and how it relates to his musical style and career.
How would you describe your musical style?
I guess I’d just call it indie dance music. I try not to confuse people too much. Typically, the people who ask what kind of music I make are people who might not understand if I tell them exactly what it is. I like catchy music, and I like to infuse that into the dance music that I make. It’s my own sort of style of dance music.
Which other artists have influenced you?
I’m influenced by some of the classic house guys who have sort of paved the way for artists like me. But then I’m a big pop music guy. So I find myself listening to pop radio sometimes more than dance music or other forms of music. I grew up listening to pop radio with my parents while my friends’ parents were listening to cool music. Other influences are the obvious ones, like pop legends like Michael Jackson or Ashanti.
How did you react when you found out that you’d be playing at Coachella?
That was like a dream come true for me. I think a lot of artists dream about the day they can play Coachella. I had actually never been to Coachella as a fan. I kind of always told myself that if I went, it would be because I was playing. So I feel extremely fortunate in that regard. But aside from that, the festival is like a work of art. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s like no other festival that I’ve ever been to. So it was pretty amazing to be asked to play. And the show was incredible. The crowd was jammed, and everybody was dancing.
What’s been the coolest moment in your career so far?
I’ll just say the most recent cool moment was playing at the Roxy in Los Angeles, which is a legendary venue that typically doesn’t cater to dance music. But for whatever reason, they did. And it’s my hometown. There’s just something about playing in your hometown that just feels extra special. There was a moment when I brought a couple of people up on stage. My goal was just to have them dance with me. But everyone else thought this was their cue to jump up on stage as well. So within ten seconds, the entire stage was just full of people dancing and taking pictures and having fun. That’s typically not the club’s favorite thing to see happen. But it happened anyway. And they were actually surprisingly cool about it, so it all worked out.
What should fans expect to hear at Thursday’s concert and other concerts on the “Homewerk” tour?
At the show at U Street, people can expect to hear all of the latest singles and remixes that I’ve done. So some of the classic house music. It’s the Homewerk tour, and it’s based off of the label I’m launching. The label means the music that I’m inspired by, not the music that I feel like I have to make or the music that’s popular at the moment. It’s music that I listened to when I first got into dance music. The reason I’m starting the label is the reason I started making dance music in the first place.