John Cudlip is the mind, and voice of Launder. When we arrived at his house in Silverlake, we were greeted by his dog Dita. Inside is a home studio, nestled with a range of books and records that age like fine wine. So we hung out on the couch to dive into his to past youth influences, preparing for his next show at the Market Hotel in New York, and washing away distraction in his creative process. – What Youth
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
I just walked down to the taco truck this morning and got some breakfast tacos. It was solid.
How were you introduced to your taste in music?
LimeWire. Just kidding. Not really.
When did you start playing and do you remember your first guitar?
Pictures tell me I picked up a plastic guitar as a kiddo. But, I got my first acoustic from my friend Stevie for 20 bucks. It was challenging at first because I’m a lefty, so I restrung the $20 guitar upside down. It worked out somehow. After that I got my first Telecaster, which really changed things for me — electric guitar felt most natural.
How was growing up in Dana Point? What did you like to do? and what inspired you to take the move to LA?
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t pretty great — mostly spent my days skating and surfing. Both hobbies really seemed to go hand in hand with music discovery, and that’s kind of how it all started. I bounced around California for a bit after high school — San Francisco and other spots in Orange County — but always found myself going to LA for shows. It was sort of a natural progression of things to end up here.
How do you feel being around contemporaries and how do they help shape your sound?
Haha. Um. It’s inspiring to be around musicians succeeding and working all the time. I come from a place where people generally take it pretty easy. Beach life. But being here and having so many friends in the scene is what actually birthed LAUNDER. Just messing around at different friends’ houses turned into this somehow. And I’m overwhelmingly grateful. But, when it comes to what truly influences my sound — I tend to gravitate more towards older bands from the 80’s/90’s. The whole Creation Records scene has really influenced my music and my whole life.
It’s what speaks to you.
Yeah, it was coming from a time with a lot less distraction. The actual craft of playing music was more revered and there were less distractions. People couldn’t send you a text and derail your whole day. You could focus. And — not the be that guy — but the industry was so much different. Now, we live in a singles-based music industry where playlists are more sought after than full-length records. It’s weird.
It was easier to disconnect from distractions.
Exactly. But the internet has also helped my career greatly and allowed me to connect and collaborate with a lot of artists. So, whatever.
Anyone catch your ear?
This is probably the part where I plug all of my friends’ bands: I’m really into Kraus, Orchin, Storefront Church, Day Wave, Goldensuns, Deafheaven, and this little-known band called DIIV. I think they’re just starting out.
Cole of DIIV, Soko and you have an interesting trio going on, would you like to work anyone else?
It’s all pretty spontaneous. Working with them happened organically because we were just hanging out and messing around at our friend Jackson Phillips’ (Day Wave) home studio. Then a song happened. And another. etc. etc. It was never really sought out. I’d like to ride that approach for as long as I can. I’m very lucky to have them on so many songs so far, but no one is bound to it. They both have their own projects so we just let things happen spontaneously. As far as working with other artists, I just plan to keep the door open for people to come in and out as they please and let things happen naturally. At the end of the day, I just really want to work with my friends. We’ll see. To be continued.
Things fall together more into place.
Yeah. We have pretty similar taste in music and general outlook on things so it’s just, easy.
How did you guys meet up?
I like to say Craigslist. But we met at a show in San Francisco a few years back.
You guys just hit it off?
Something like that. I think DIIV is a great band so I was there just fanning out. [Laughs] But when we started talking, it just turned out we were just going through a lot of the same shit.
Do you have an underlying message that you’re trying to convey through your music?
For me, I’m not sitting down writing “We are the World”. [Laughs] Just making songs that I like that hopefully people will think are — at least — kind of cool.
What made you set on the name LAUNDER?
It wasn’t already taken. Just kidding. But if you check out the definition, you might find some deeper meaning in there somewhere.
Rad, where do you want to travel and play next?
Probably go to Europe. That’s top priority. My Mom has always wanted to go there so maybe I’ll bring her.
You’re playing at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, what’s after that?
I’m excited about that one because I spent a lot of time watching bands there when I was younger. Kind of a homecoming show of sorts. After that, we’re going to New York to play the Market Hotel on June 8th. It will be our first time playing the East Coast. Hopefully the ball keeps rolling after that.
Are there any side projects that you’re working on?
No side projects at this point. Maybe I’ll start rapping to fund my guitar music. [Laughs] I probably have 100 LAUNDER demos right now, so that’s where my focus is at.
Has your style changed since the release of Pink Cloud?
Yeah, it’s gotten a lot broader than the EP or even the 7″ I just put out. I don’t want to be a one trick pony. Nothing against ponies. I just made a song that was all acoustic and piano that was a little different. Just branching out. Not sticking to the same old song and dance every time.
How’s your friend Robbie [Blumpkin] doing?
I don’t know, he’s in Bakersfield last I heard. He hypes us up. I wanna wish him a belated 3/11. I hope he reads this.
Any last words?
I just want to thank everyone who’s listened to any of my songs. Or read to the end of this article. I’m very grateful to be where I’m at and just hope you’ll all come along for the rest of the ride. -What Youth
Photos: Andeaux Borunda II
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