Interview: Jerome LOL


Last Saturday, Rihanna performed her single “Diamonds” on SNL in front of a green screen, backed by an animated video full of purposefully gaudy web 1.0 graphics. Buzzfeed wrote that the CGI’d visuals were “clearly based” on a video made by Jerome LOL, the LA-based producer, and had infuriated a community of internet artists who felt their style had been impolitely co-opted. Jerome LOL talked to us about his reaction to the performance, where web art comes from and how it should be shared. Read the interview and check out his coincidental, great “Diamonds” remix below. Watch all of Jerome LOL’s videos here.

When did you see Rihanna’s performance and how did you react? I’m on tour. Last Saturday we played in Tijuana and got back really late, like six, and I saw a few tweets at me like, “Holy shit Rihanna blah, blah blah stolen visuals.” So I checked it out. My first reaction, on a superficial, aesthetic level, was like, This is awesome. This kind of style is getting exposed to thousands and thousands of people, to Rihanna, to SNL. And now the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s maybe not the correct vehicle to be showing that kind of stuff. If you’re watching music videos that have that style, you’re seeking out those YouTube pages and choosing them as a viewer. But in this case, SNL is presenting something to you as opposed to you searching for it. That’s what the internet is, you choose your own content. On TV the producer’s giving content to you. The flow of information is different. But at the same time, what if it wasn’t Rihanna? What if it was Grimes that did that? Would it be cool then? Would there be any controversy? I don’t want to sound whiny or preachy though. Because on a basic level, I think that performance was cool. I’d rather SNL look like that. If everyone had crazy dolphins and 3D GIF animations everywhere all the time, that’d be a cool place.

Were Rihanna’s visuals a direct reference to your work? Would that flatter you or piss you off? It’s cool that people took note of the correlation. While I don’t think it’s necessarily a rip-off of my stuff, it’s definitely borrowing from this whole scene. Everybody’s been mentioning that “123″ video, but there’s another video for “Blockz” that I would say is more similar to Rihanna’s graphics. I think I’ve moved past the style of those videos, but I still like it. What am I going to do next? An all black video? I’m not going to dismiss that aesthetic because Rihanna took it. I’ve never ever been associated with seapunk until this week, which is funny. Blogs that seem very out of touch are talking about seapunk as if it’s like a saying, but not contacting any of us.

Why would Rihanna want to jack the style of the Tumblr scene? Rihanna has this badass, punk aesthetic going on right now, talking about weed and stuff. But I doubt she really had any input. I mean I’m sure she okayed it, but mostly, those visuals are just trendy. What do those Greek columns mean to her? Those pink dolphins? On TV, it just looks cool. There’s no substance behind it. That’s the look they went for and someone got hired to do that. SNL is an iconic stage, and she clearly switched the stage. That will definitely stick out in people’s minds. That’s what pop music, big record companies, big capitalists want to do. They find something that is cool and underground and just take it. She is late, but if the mainstream is going to steal something, it’s going to take them awhile. People still identify with those visuals, even a watered-down form of that style that’s like, reduced to hashtags and big iconic signifiers. Greek columns, water and trees, a 3D peace sign that’s rotating. Nothing connected, just the basic stuff. The artist who did the SNL thing for Rihanna was a really good artist I think, but the visual was also very safe. Like what you’d expect.

What’s so significant about this aesthetic? What meaning gets lost when it’s used on TV? There’s this whole generation of adults now, we were kids when the internet was really evolving, at the same time as we were evolving. We saw the internet develop from the early Windows days, with all its crazy GIFs and MIDI music. That stuff’s a part of our youth and a part of the internet that has to be archived for people who were born later, when the internet always existed. This visual style’s an homage to the early days of CGI and early days of the internet in general. It’s for the internet, by the internet, from the internet. People say “seapunk” and buzzwords to make it easier to write about, but there’s really no name for it.

Art that’s for, by and on the internet requires a lot of sharing. Should people still get upset when their work is imitated or duplicated? People have said to me like, “That’s whack, people didn’t consult with you, or give you any credit.” Well why would they? Do we do that ourselves? The internet’s a free base to do whatever you want with it. It’s a democratic place. All those images I’m using are like, referencing things and stolen. These underground videos are on the same platform as a mainstream video. Everything’s on YouTube, on Tumblr. It’s not like there’s this secret part of the internet where all this art is happening or this style. It’s out there. Anyone can steal from it.

If stealing is fair game on the internet, where can DIY art communities thrive? It’s always funny when an article about a band says, This band got big on the internet. How else are they going to get big? Sure there are still punk scenes and tiny metal scenes, but in general everything really has to start on the internet these days. I don’t think there’s a better place in real life. I think it’s good though. It puts everyone on the same plane. To get your work out there, you don’t really need the same outlets you used to.

POSTED November 15, 2012 6:40PM IN MUSIC NEWS Comments (19) TAGS: , ,




  1. FART says:

    I like his music but this stupid nostalgia needs to go away. And 20 year old kids who didn’t have to deal with dialup AOL 3.0 need to stop acting like they lived it. YOU DON’T KNOW THE STRUGGLE

  2. ron dash says:

    i check out the videos, interesting concept.


  3. Meshens says:


    You obviously don’t have a good timeframe or proper view of the internet in different areas. I’m 20 years old and I’ve been on the internet nearly my entire life. I didn’t have anything other than dialup until I was probably 12 or 13 years old and I definitely used old versions of AOL.

  4. Yarn1 says:


    I think you need to lower you age there buddy, im twenty and i dealt with some bitch ass slow dialup mang. I also had kidpix, man that program was cool

  5. Anis says:

    its just hipster internet culture evolving. roots still 2006 / 2007 new rave/myspace revolution

  6. Obi says:

    There isn’t suppost to be a disconnect in electronic music, there isn’t supposed to be a scene. The people that like the music are to just that, enjoy the music, it’s going to make receptive people feel alive. Money and property are the tools that separate the common folks from that notion that a few know better than most, I would love everyone to have a great appreciation of the beauty of music and the emotion it can evoke. But maybe thats the hopeful delusions of an eighties kid that thought we’d have an everlasting peaceful world by now.

  7. 12 says:

    im 12 and what is this

  8. Pingback: #Newsfeed Interview Jerome LOL

  9. Thomas "The Tank" Edison says:

    he wasnt the first person to chroma key images from Minds Eye vhs tapes. he isn’t that unique.
    what about that graphic guy working with MIA or the thousands of other youtube videos the exact same thing?

  10. G says:

    Why’s it such a given that Rihanna had no input? She’s female and famous, so she’s just a zero-agency airhead? Real special how people take for granted that because she has a large team/machine she has no creative impetus–so much so that you can’t even give her credit for stealing.

  11. Keinbernd says:

    This dude was late on all these trends, so why does he get to complain in a big magazine interview?

  12. G Son says:

    The Riahanna video’s reminded me more of #seapunk scene then it did to Lol Boys…

  13. paul says:

    This shit is terrible. Undergrad videos.

  14. Pingback: The Hundred 1 Year Anniversary Featuring Jerome LOL (LOL Boys) This Sat the 24th @Beauty Bar « Star Stuff Scallywags

  15. Charlotte says:

    yeah its way more seapunk and if anything rihanna’s management got it from azealia bank’s atlantis.

    everything’s influenced by something but rihanna’s ripping off of everything ever is starting to grate now.

  16. Charlotte says:

    @G have you seen the you da one video? or any of the others? or how she dressed before she employed a personal stylist from i-D magazine? her tattoos? my favourite is the grammatically incorrect ‘rebelle fleur’. I don’t think she’s stupid, but she’s hardly eclectic

  17. Pingback: internet sub-genre condensation | THE STATE

  18. dave swan says:

    man also this dude didnt invent any of this imagery/style/aesthetic he cooped it just like every other “NET ARTIST” and when he got on this tip it was already played out and old.. like most of the people complaining..