‘I Feel So Much More Myself Than I’ve Ever Felt:’ Helado Negro Finds Freedom on ‘Phasor’

The Helado Negro canon goes pretty deep. The prolific electronic artist and producer has been making music since 2009 and his discography is marked by all kinds of weird turns and surprises: Go through the catalogue and you’ll find mazes of glitched-out noise, tinselly abstractions, lush robot love songs, and tons more — all connected by a constant sense of curiosity.

For Helado Negro, whose real name is Roberto Carlos Lange, the creative process is never the same from album to album. “Sometimes, you’re like, ‘I’ve done this 100 times, but if I do it again the same way, it feels like I’m copying the last thing I did,’” he tells Rolling Stone in a recent interview in New York. “You kind of have to relearn things, even though you have these muscle memories in the music.”

Some projects, he admits, have been more challenging than others: This Is How You Smile, his stunning album from 2019, caught Lange during an intense period in his career. He was living in New York and juggling a lot of deadlines, trying to wrap up the songs on the project. “There was this intensity with it that was pushing me to finish, just an underlying stress and being in that kind of environment of productivity,” he remembers.

But for his latest album, Phasor, things went a little differently. By then, Lange had moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where he worked on the LP in a slower but regimented way, unlocking a new kind of freedom in the music. The album is expansive and carefree, with swatches of psychedelia and tons of bright, gleaming synths. “I’m at a different place in my life. I feel so much more in myself than I’ve ever felt,” Lange explains. “I’m so excited about every aspect of what we’re doing, especially with the shows and performances. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed this as much as I have now.”

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Lange broke down a few of his favorite songs on Phasor, and also shared why he’s looking forward to performing these during his U.S. tour, which launches  April 21 in Asheville. Check out full dates below.

“LFO (Lupe Finds Oliveros)”

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I’d been reading Pauline Oliveros. I had known her work and, over the past few years, I started to get more into it and thinking about the philosophy of deep listening. I was thinking about what that means in my life. I’ve already lived in that world a lot through music and through the sound work that I’ve done with films and movies and having these deep listening moments of just listening to life.

And then I came across this photo of Lupe Lopez. I was trying to find an amp my friend Matt used to bring to Savannah, and I was like, ‘Man, I want one of these.’ Then I hopped on some forum that had this photo of Lupe Lopez. I was like, ‘Who is this woman and why are they making this forum post about her?’ The forum was full of collectors of her amps, and they knew which were hers because on the inside, on a piece of tape for quality control, she’d write ‘Lupe.’ And people loved those amps because of the tone and the sound she created. Like, there’s a poem in that: She’s sitting at her bench, assembling something, and it was cool to see her care and her talent and her touch, the way she made this and how it resonated, you know? So, it was a blend of that and Pauline’s idea of deep listening in a philosophical sense of, ‘What are you listening to inside yourself?’


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“Flores” was one song that was floating in the background for a while. It’s one of the ones that I worked on the most, and it was the hardest one to finish because there were all these challenges with it., I really couldn’t figure it out: what I liked about it, what I didn’t like. It was one of these mysterious songs. It took a while to really make it right. I definitely cut it out quite a few times.

I was thinking about the things you want to say to people and feeling unsure if it’s the right moment or if you’re going to say something wrong and hoping you could have said the right thing. I was thinking about two people who passed away in my life: my grandmother and then another friend who passed away early in her life. I was thinking about people that you’re not able to see and how sometimes it’s like, “I could have done something else. I could have said something a little bit differently.” 

“Colores Del Mar”

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This one was a big feeling more than anything. I just loved making that one as a producer and as a mixing engineer, just doing it all. I was just like in love with shaping that. Not too heavy in concept, just this energy.

I feel like everything works parallel — when I’m working on songs, I don’ stop time and make sure that one’s fished. Everything is kind of moving at the same time or going forward at the same time. I like doing that because I’m listening to everything, so I can hear the flow of how other songs respond to the other things and making sure that there are sonic ideas inside each song that are connecting and complementary to one another.

“Echo Tricks Me”

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“Echo Tricks Me” was two baritone guitar lines and just me singing. My friend recorded drums for it, and it was so simple. There’s flourishes that I added, but it was just the baritone guitar, bass, we added some percussion, and it was magical. I was like, “Oh shit, okay, this is it.”

“Out There”


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“Echo Tricks Me” and “Out There” are very special to me right now. I think they represent a lot of where my mind and feeling with music is at and new things I want to continue to explore. Even performing them live, I feel like I get lost and I’m in a place where it feels exciting. The other songs feel great, but those two define a lot of movement and patience with myself and things that I’ve seen myself change.

It feels like there are always these titles that are foisted onto you when you’re doing anything with music, like “singer-songwriter,” stuff like that. And I don’t see myself in these specific titles: “singer-songwriter;” “musician” is sometimes confusing. But I find myself in performances. And so, with those songs, through performance and through the recorded versions, I’m like, “Oh, I can see it all connecting through these songs.” I’d like to be continued to be called those things if like these songs are a representation of that.

Helado Negro Tour Dates
April 21 – Asheville, North Carolina -@Eulogy
April 22 – Chapel Hill, North Carolina @ Cats Cradle
April 23 – Washington, D.C. @ The Atlantis
April 24 – New York, New York @ Webster Hall
April 26 – Boston, Massachusetts @ Sinclair
April 27 – Hamden, Connecticut @ Space Ballroom
April 28 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania @ Underground Arts
April 30 – Chicago, Illinois @ Thalia Hall
May 1 – Minneapolis, Minnesota @ Turf Club
May 3 – Denver, Colorado @ Globe Hall
May 4 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ The Urban Lounge