About LiL Lotus
Born in 1994 in Dallas, Texas, this singer/songwriter, producer, and rapper has proved to be an innovator in the emo rap genre. The title track of his July 2017 breakthrough EP, Bodybag, was his most successful piece, enjoying over seven million streams per mainstream service in the three years following its release. It led to a deal with Epitaph and a hedonistic L.A. lifestyle, before sobriety and a return to Dallas inspired an increased redemptive tone in his material.
Lil Lotus, real name John "Elias" Villagran, grew up in an area just east of downtown Dallas, raised by strict and religious parents. At once sporty and rebellious, he soon developed tastes that were steeped in metal, finding kindred spirits at a local church with whom he started to make music. Metalcore and Christian metal were high on the agenda, the latter of which was accepted by his parents for its sentiment, if not the heaviness. Then, in 2011, when Villagran was just 17 years old, his father passed away -- the man who had given him his first guitar lessons -- leading an already impulsive and defiant teenager to go out on the road and live in his car for two years. When he returned, he eschewed his previous routine of collaborating with metal bands and decided to start writing and recording his own confessional material using minimal equipment.
After moving to L.A., Villagran hooked up with like-minded musicians such as the GothBoiClique collective and Canadian-born artist Nedarb, who produced the material that became the Bodybag EP. When the release took off, he began a period of eventful live appearances but a relatively fallow period for official Lil Lotus releases. Although he was prolifically uploading material onto free streaming services, the next official single with upfront marketing behind it was June 2018's mournful "Leave Me." By November 2018, he was completely drug and alcohol free, leading to a productive month for singles: two collaborative efforts and the acoustic-driven "Over It," the latter being another Nedarb production. By 2019, Lil Lotus was back to living a comparatively quiet life in Dallas, but the following year brought a glut of releases, making it his most high-profile period to date. In an eight-month stretch, not only did he issue three EPs and two singles but also 2016-2018, a compilation of no fewer than 45 self-recorded tracks from his archives. ~ James Wilkinson