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Louis Cole

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Louis Cole
Cole performing with Knower at The Haunt, Brighton, England, 2018
Background information
Birth nameLouis Maxwell Cole
BornLos Angeles, California, US
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Bass
  • drums
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • vocals
Years active2008–present
LabelsBrainfeeder, Ninja Tune
Member ofKnower, Clown Core (speculated)[1]

Louis Maxwell Cole is an American musician and singer-songwriter. He is best known as the co-founder of the independent electronic jazz-funk duo Knower, along with Genevieve Artadi. As a solo artist, he has released five studio albums; his fourth album, Quality Over Opinion (2022), was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Jazz Album. It is speculated that he is a member of the avant-garde musical duo Clown Core.

Early life[edit]

Louis Cole was born in Los Angeles to a family with musical roots.[2][3] His father plays jazz piano, while his mother played bass. Cole started drumming when he was 8.[3][4] He graduated in Jazz Studies at USC Thornton School of Music in 2009.[2][5]


After graduating from USC in 2009, Cole was encouraged by his friend Jack Conte to put music videos on YouTube, including one called "Bank Account", which showcased a split-screen of him playing keyboards, drums, and singing.[6][2] This video catapulted him into the public awareness, as it was posted on social media by various celebrities and musicians such as John Mayer, Charlie Day, and Björk.[3][4]

After doing several other short songs and uploading them to YouTube, Cole wanted to focus more on writing longer material.[3] He co-founded Knower with another Jazz Studies graduate, Genevieve Artadi.[7] In 2010, he released both his self-titled solo album and the debut album for Knower.[2][5] After releasing his second solo album, he focused more on Knower, producing three other albums. In the meantime, Cole co-wrote "Padded Cell" for Seal's 2015 album 7, and together with Artadi, got featured on Snarky Puppy's Family Dinner – Volume 2. In 2017, he co-wrote two songs for Thundercat's album Drunk.[2] This led to signing a contract with Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder and releasing his third solo album through the label in 2018.[6][2][3] The album featured appearances by Artadi, Thundercat, Dennis Hamm and Brad Mehldau.[2] Cole also appeared on Thundercat's 2020 Grammy Award winning album It Is What It Is, performing on a song called "I Love Louis Cole", which was dedicated to him.[8][9]

In 2020, Cole wrote an exclusive song for Grand Theft Auto Online called "Planet X", which was added to the FlyLo FM radio station through The Cayo Perico Heist update.[10][11] Knower's song "Fuck the Makeup, Skip the Shower" was previously featured on the same radio station.[12] "Planet X" was later included in Cole's fourth studio album Quality Over Opinion, which was released on October 14, 2022 via Brainfeeder.[13] Another single from the album, "Let it Happen", was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals in 2023, and the album as a whole was nominated for Best Alternative Jazz Album the following year.[14]

It is speculated that Cole and saxophonist Sam Gendel are behind Clown Core, a surrealist musical duo of two anonymous clowns who blend grindcore, jazz, and electronic music.[1][15]


Style and writing[edit]

Cole is a classically-trained jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, keyboards, guitar and bass, sings, and produces his material.[16][3][15] His work contains elements from a diverse range of music genres such as jazz, funk, pop, avant-garde, electronic, lo-fi (early) and grindcore (with Clown Core).[3][5][1] Cole is a "bedroom" musician who does not like working in a professional recording studio.[17] He practices drums for four hours a day, and writes music for seven hours a day. Cole feels his mission is to write his own favorite music, and he "never [tries] to make [his] music accessible to anyone."[3] He is known for using strange and counterintuitive chord progressions.[6] His lyrics often include humor and vulgarity, and his music features home-made videos. Cole is more creative during the early hours of the day, and documents this phenomenon on his song, "The Weird Part of the Night".[3]


Cole's influences include his father, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys, Boards of Canada, Nate Wood, The Beatles, and Skrillex, among others.[3][17][16] Cole is also influenced by science fiction and video game sounds and visuals, and notes that the music of classic Nintendo games and Tron shaped Knower's aesthetic:

"That music really dug its way deep into my developing brain. There are a lot of imaginative chord changes, pretty melodies, heavy funk grooves, modulations, insane synth trumpet hits and really cool sounds in those games. I still, to this day, strive to include those kinds of things in my music."

— Louis Cole[5]

Cole is best friends with Thundercat, who has called him "one of Los Angeles's greatest musicians".[18][8] Flying Lotus has also expressed admiration for Cole on Twitter, calling him "super inspirational" during the writing of his album Flamagra.[19]


Bob Mintzer has described Cole as "the paradigm for today's musician".[5] Will Schube of Passion of the Weiss has compared Cole's "auteur approach" to that of another Los Angeles musician, Ariel Pink.[17] Emma Roller of The Brick House Cooperative has described Cole as "a dopey yet cerebral jazz composer and percussionist who whaps out brain-meltingly complex beats with Terminator-like precision".[8]


Studio albums[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

Title Album details
Louis Cole
Album 2
  • Released: March 22, 2011
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital download
Quality Over Opinion
  • Released: October 14, 2022
  • Label: Brainfeeder
  • Format: CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming
Some Unused Songs
  • Released: May 11, 2023
  • Label: Brainfeeder
  • Format: digital download, streaming

With Knower[edit]

Title Album details
Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi
Think Thoughts
  • Released: November 28, 2011
  • Label: Self-released
  • CD, digital download
Let Go
  • Released: April 29, 2013
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital download
  • Released: February 5, 2016
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital download, streaming
Knower Forever
  • Released: June 2, 2023
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download

With Clown Core[edit]

Title Album details
Clown Core
  • Released: March 3, 2018
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
  • Released: September 23, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
  • Released: April 16, 2021
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details
LIVE 2019
  • Released: July 6, 2020
  • Label: Brainfeeder
  • Format: Digital download, streaming

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Live Sesh and Xtra Songs


As lead artist[edit]

Title Year Album
"Weird Part of the Night" 2016 Time
"Bank Account" 2017 Non-album singles
"Things" 2018 Time
"Doing the Things" 2019 Non-album single
"Let It Happen" 2022 Quality Over Opinion
"I'm Tight"
"Not Needed Anymore"
"Dead Inside Shuffle"

As guest[edit]

Title Year Album
"The Grid Generation"
(Cory Wong featuring Louis Cole)
2023 The Lucky One

Production and songwriting[edit]

These are writing and production credits for music outside of Knower, Clown Core, or his own solo work.

Title Year Artist Album Notes
"Padded Cell" 2015 Seal 7 Co-writer
2020 Jacob Mann 106 Mastered

Other appearances[edit]

Title Year Credited artist(s) Album
"Bus in These Streets" 2016 Thundercat Drunk
"Jameel's Space Ride"
2018 Jacob Mann Big Band Greatest Hits, Vol 2
"Tonight" 2018 Sam Wilkes Wilkes
"It Gets Funkier IV" Vulfpeck
(featuring Louis Cole)
Hill Climber
"Edge of the Cliff" 2020 Genevieve Artadi Dizzy Strange Summer
"Hope Song"
"Hits!" Henry Solomon and Logan Kane
2023 Genevieve Artadi Forever Forever
"Mad Hope" Gen Hoshino Lighthouse
"—" denotes he wasn't on one song, but an entire album.


  1. ^ a b c Kuhn, Sarena (October 17, 2020). "Clown Core's 'Van' is artful absurdity". The Daily Californian. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kellman, Andy. "Louis Cole Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Richardson, Kitty (April 4, 2019). "The delightful deviance of Louis Cole". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Kalia, Ammar (October 3, 2022). "Louis Cole: 'Funk is fun but with jazz you can just go wild'". The Guardian. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e Hollins, Evan (November 15, 2013). "Louis Cole and Knower". USC Thornton School of Music. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Sherburne, Philip (August 16, 2018). "Louis Cole – Time". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  7. ^ Simpson, Paul. "Genevieve Artadi Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Roller, Emma (April 12, 2021). "Monday Song: I Love Louis Cole". The Brick House Cooperative. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  9. ^ "63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards (2020)". Grammy Awards. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  10. ^ McGlynn, Declan (December 21, 2020). "Grand Theft Auto's musical legacy continued to push the boundaries in 2020 — here's how". DJ Mag. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Louis Cole [@louiscolemusic] (December 16, 2020). "New Louis Cole song in the new grand theft auto. It's called Planet X. It's about how they will name Planet X after me (when they finally find it). It's a good song. It's on the @flyinglotus radio station. Go listen to it while you run over people or whatever you're doing" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Goble, Corban (November 17, 2014). "Grand Theft Auto V Reveals Expanded Radio Station Tracklists for Game Relaunch". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  13. ^ Murray, Robin (August 23, 2022). "Louis Cole Announces New Album 'Quality Over Opinion'". Clash. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
  14. ^ Minsker, Evan (November 10, 2023). "Grammy Nominations 2024: See the Full List Here". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  15. ^ a b Burks, Tosten (April 5, 2019). "Louis Cole Jam Sessions Look Fun As Hell". Spin. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Sidran, Leo (November 18, 2020). "Who Is Louis Cole". All About Jazz. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  17. ^ a b c Schube, Will (October 13, 2018). "An Interview with Louis Cole". Passion of the Weiss. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  18. ^ Shapiro, Ari (November 19, 2020). "Play It Forward: Thundercat Eases Loneliness With Trippy Music". NPR. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  19. ^ Flying Lotus [@flyinglotus] (April 3, 2020). "I love Louis Cole. I love Louis too. He's crazy. All the stories told n this song are true. Louis was actually super inspirational to me in Flamagra time. Check him out @louiscole and listen to @KNOWER_music" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]