In his first interview, the 17-year-old rapper/producer digs into his past lives on the internet and unpacks the lore of his debut album SISTERHOOD.
Logging onto a Zoom call to speak with lostrushi felt surreal, to say the least. Like other SoundCloud zoomers chasing after a “mysterious” aura, the 17-year-old musician hides behind a world meticulously crafted from far-off influences—outfits that look fresh off the pages of the Ai Yazawa manga NANA, soundscapes that remind me of Frutiger Aero startup screens, and cover art that looks ripped off of MySpace. There is little-to-no information on who he is, other than random tweets, a handful of songs, and cute imagery. Rarely do we see any flicker of inspiration from these online enigmas—just the usual arranging and rearranging of the same ideas in the same ways. But to see that these nebulous bits and pieces came together to take the form of a teenage boy who couldn’t stop shuffling in his chair and twirling his hair was heartwarming. His tangible presence bears traces of his online character—a few minutes with him and you can feel the unbounded ideas bubbling up in the words he finds trouble forming.
lostrushi’s debut album SISTERHOOD came out in July, and the reception has left him overly anxious, name-searching and monitoring comment sections to see any chirping from his listeners. “I used to do this often, specifically when I was first starting out music, just to see how many people knew about me,” he says. “It’s something I still do to this day, but only because I often tend to miss out on topics related to me. Being talked about is cool as hell. I love it, for the most part.”
lostrushi – SISTERHOOD
SISTERHOOD finds its sound between every nook and cranny of the young-adult internet. With songs sped up to lightspeed, synth leads patterned off of cult-classic video game and anime OSTs like A Certain Magical Railgun, Super Swing Golf and Style Savvy, flying hi-hat patterns, plugg-era 808s, and acoustic guitars (the real ones!), there’s something here for everybody. The way he navigates everything, however, is what separates his work from his peers. It’s not your run-of-the-mill Zoomer sound collage, but instead a carefully-crafted testament to his own identity as a reserved kid looking for an outlet.
On tracks like “SORORITY,” “TAKE ME BACK,” and “WEEP TODAY,” his harmonies bounce from ear to ear, putting sidechained kicks at the forefront and his androgynous yearns in the backseat. “HYDROXYCUT (TAKE IT ALL)” flaunts an intense, JPEGMAFIA-esque delivery that you would expect from a rap veteran. “INFINITUDE // UROBORUS” combines both, spotlighting lostrushi’s impassioned vocal range as the emerald in his arsenal. Is he a blues singer? A tech-savvy Young Thug offshoot? Like other internet artists, he’ll quickly advocate against whatever labels you use, but his elusive self-branding is backed up by his track record and box score, rather than a cheap desire to be misunderstood.
Before the release of SISTERHOOD, lostrushi was tied up in the sigilkore scene, a subgenre notorious for its references to the occult, dance-ready rhythms, and randomized, turntable-like glitches. What originally started as an off-kilter, purposefully edgy subculture that focused on being different eventually suffered from these same traits. Some of the founding fathers played into the gimmick a little too hard and fell into bigotry and conflict. This, along with generally feeling like an outsider in collectives, has led lostrushi to look for something more at his own pace.
Lucky for him, he’s always felt comfortable as a drifter. He got his start with music in the underground lo-fi scene, emulating the type of beats that you would hear on a 24/7 YouTube livestream plastered with a moving image of a girl constantly studying at her desk. It was not until late 2020 that he decided to try using his vocals in his music. Songs from digicore stalwarts quinn and twikipedia showed him he could “do something” with singing and rapping. “Taking inspiration from that enabled me to be like, why not? I’ll just try it,” he says. “It wasn’t good, it was my first time recording. But the more and more I did it, the more I got comfortable.”
Lostrushi – “maple (feat. kaystrueno)”
Through Discord, he befriended naoyarei (then named endie) and joined their collective Nocturnals, which he describes as “somewhere in between digicore and sigilkore.” After collaborating with kaystrueno, who achieved TikTok virality for their MapleStory-inspired music in 2021, Rushi found his way into another collective, Greed, where artists like Xhris2Eazy, *67 and yuke were branching off on paths of their own. But the Discord-artist lifestyle didn’t sit well with Lostrushi, who seems much more engrossed in the music than the cliques.
Naturally, Lostrushi is focused on building a bigger world. He imagines himself in different mediums, creating different experiences, even in different bodies. He talks about the “melancholy of lo-fi” playing an integral part of his universe just as much as the emotions he experiences in his day-to-day life. He’s opening pre-orders soon for plush dolls of his mascot. He’s so sleeplessly concentrated on his artistic vision that it’s easy to forget who he is: just a teenage boy.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Rae-Aila: There’s been so much talk about SISTERHOOD. Where do you go from here? Any new plans? Anything coming up?
lostrushi: Well…basically, SISTERHOOD is part of a double album. The second part, I’m planning to release it sometime early next year. But in October, I’m doing this little EP, this little project in between. It’s like an interlude.
So you’re building a little story around SISTERHOOD, like its own little universe.
That’s super cool. What exactly draws you to the term “sisterhood”? I feel like you have these different images and characters—specifically, Glutmother—I’m wondering how these all connect to lostrushi.
I feel like a lot of the terminology I use and make up in my music ties together in its own way. For example, the whole idea of SISTERHOOD. Basically what I did when I started out making music, I was like, “I kinda wanna create lore behind this, like a story, to make this more interesting,” so I have something to talk about. And these are things that are rooted in my experience, emotionally and just in life in general. So, SISTERHOOD is comprised of three different aspects of myself; they pretty much have their own names and stuff. But the sisters are all one, and it’s all just me. If I make a very mellow-toned song, that’s one side of me. If I make a very upbeat song, that’s another side of me. And something in the median of that is another side of me. I feel like all of those play a part in what makes up me as a whole, so that’s sisterhood.
What’s the end goal for the SISTERHOOD universe?
The entire story behind “Sisters” is for each of the sisters to meet at a common ground and function in unison. They’re a representation of my own personal emotions, so all my different aspects are essentially tied to one big theme or idea: acceptance.
I think one of the coolest things about lostrushi is that you can pin the development, but now it’s a lot bigger than the people you’re associated with. Now, you experiment with shoegaze and chiptune and a whole lot, and I was wondering if there are any new sounds that you want to mess around with that you haven’t before.
All of the ideas I didn’t include on SISTERHOOD are being pushed onto the next album, SVELTE CHILD. I was working on SISTERHOOD since June 2022, and so much has changed since then. I feel like this album I’m making right now is going to be more difficult to implement, but I’m willing to go through with it. I want to mix the DS games, Roland keyboard sounds with more shoegaze, and even math rock and metal. Also happy hardcore. Just all these different things I listen to!
Got you. I wanted to bring up your connection with rock music because, on the Soundcloud upload of SISTERHOOD, all of the songs’ artwork are Dir En Grey. Do they mean a lot to you?
Yeah! That’s something I got into about a year ago or so. I’ve always enjoyed metal, but Dir En Grey has resonated heavily with me for the past year. I’ve watched all of their tours through ‘05, and all of their shows…I can’t explain how inspiring it is. It sparks something in me, like…damn. I want the look, I want the appearance, I want all of that.
Lostrushi – “INFINITUDE // UROBOROS”
I think a huge standout on SISTERHOOD is “INFINITUDE // UROBOROS.” I want to know the inspiration behind the two-part song. A lot of your contemporaries make short and sweet songs and I think it’s wonderful how you stretched that one out.
Almost every song I make takes inspiration from another song. This song initially took inspiration from Hi-C’s “Skins222.” I wanted to create a cinematic song. I have guitars but I never used them, so I tried that. I came in trying to make this my best work. I wanted to make it feel like a movie from the late ‘90s. I wanted to match the imagery of what I watch. Some of it was sampled from Linkin Park and Dir En Grey.
Yeah, I was gonna ask you if that guitar was a real guitar.
Yeah, it’s kind of weird. I took the rhythm guitar part from Linkin Park’s “By Myself,” I’m pretty sure. Part of it has this lead guitar that I did myself, but I used my acoustic guitar and added the effects through FL Studio.
You mentioned being inspired by movies. What are some of your favorites?
One that I try matching the imagery of was Fallen Angels. I watched it about two years ago or so. I need to rewatch that movie. It was really good but I feel like I need to watch it a second time to fully understand it.
I recently saw Spotify made a Sigilkore playlist—
How do you feel about that? And you’re on it!
Oh, dude. I think “true perspective” is on that playlist. I don’t know if they removed it, they change the songs all the time. I saw myself on it and was like, okay… exposure is cool and all, but… [sighs] I feel like, at first, Sigilkore was such a secluded thing. Only a specific amount of people could make it, because of the stuff going on inside of the circles. Because it’s not seen as that and now it’s seen as more of a sound. If anybody can make anything remotely close to it, you’re considered Sigilkore pretty much. It got turned into something entirely different. When people ask me what genre I am, I don’t know how to answer that myself. I can understand why they say Sigilkore, I guess, but, ehhh…
Getting back to what I mentioned earlier, can you explain Glutmother? It’s on the project cover and mentioned throughout the songs.
Glutmother is the alias of lostrushi. Glutmother is the whole representation of gluttony, and just me taking more than what I really can. Me, I’m a very…this isn’t necessarily a good thing either, but I’m a very prideful person, and I’d say there are things I can’t hold back on. This is also a literal term. When I eat, I take way more than I can and eat inconsistently. I can eat a whole damn buffet and the next day eat a muffin and call it a day. It’s weird. It’s a literal thing, but it’s also representative of my emotional side. It’s just emphasis on how much.
What’s the lostrushi meal?
The lostrushi meal. I’m open to a lot of foods, so…damn. That’s actually a really good question [laughs]. If I were to drop my own meal right now, I’d probably put, like, a big ass burger and put everything in it. Literally everything in that burger.
Everything in that burger?
Everything in that burger. Damn near. The lostrushi combo, you get 16-piece chicken nuggets.
Damn! That’s a lot of chicken nuggets.
It’s a lot. I’d eat that whole shit. I’d probably eat that whole shit. On a good day.
Is there like a local [chain]… wait, where are you from?
So, I like to say I’m from New York ‘cause I grew up in New York, but when I was 9 I moved to LA.
Has location inspired your music in any way?
I actually thought about that recently! If I never moved to LA, I don’t think I’d be making the music I’m making today, which is weird. I feel like moving to LA changed the direction of my life as a whole.
Location can do that. It’s very interesting how rap is shifting back to regionally-based scenes, like Michigan rap, St. Louis has Sexyy Red. It’s interesting how your music can’t be pinned to a location.
There was someone who thought I wasn’t even from the U.S. There are people in my comments telling me that I’m like, speaking a whole different language [laughs]. Like, “Is he speaking French? Is he speaking Japanese?”
Well you have that song called “À QUI DE DROIT”!
I don’t even know if it was that song! Two or three different people said I was speaking Japanese on Hydroxycut.
I was in your live the other week where you threw your computer and punched it and said, “This is Dom Corleo’s laptop!”
Yeah, you didn’t think I was gonna ask that, did you?
No! The Dom Corleo laptop!
I don’t like Dom Corleo’s music, so I want to know your opinions on Dom Corleo.
Oh my god, dude! Holy shit. Dom Corleo. That’s…quite the guy. Wow. I don’t—he can continue to do what he does. If he loves what he does, that’s great. But Dom Corleo, man…Dom Corleo. There’s not much I can say about that. But if I did have his laptop, that would be his laptop.