Lorn’s government name is Marcus Ortega, and he’s from Normal, Illinois, which in my opinion sounds like a town that’s got something to hide. Even though he’s from Illinois his Spotify about page says that people mostly listen to him in Warsaw, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Berlin, and Chicago, in that order.
I don’t know what that means about his music, or what’s happening in these cities but I really like looking at where an artist is popular on their about pages. Sometimes you can see small trends across different things. For example, I’ve noticed that a lot of rap is popular in Chicago. Lil Baby, Gunna, Gucci Mane, Quando Rondo, NBA Youngboy and a bunch of others are all from Atlanta or other parts of the South but are listened to by more people in Chicago than anywhere else.
I’ve noticed that whiter, trendy stuff that’s usually of a certain Pitchfork approved subset tends to be popular in Los Angeles, and sometimes Chicago a little bit.
My favorite trend with these results is Latin America’s consistent fandom of the music of suburban American high-school freshman who are just starting to grow out of their emo phases (or I guess e-boy, e-girl phases now?). Most listened to cities for Morrisey, The Smiths, Joy Division, Interpol, The Strokes, and stuff like that are absolutely dominated by Santiago, Chile, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires.
I have suspicions for why some of this breaks down the way it does. In some cases, the answers are obvious. Latin America’s love affair with Morrisey is well-documented. It would make sense that they get really into everything that’s come directly from that or sounded like it.
Dutch people, more so than anywhere in the world inexplicably love hardstyle EDM, explaining why hardstyle producers from Dallas like Lil Texas do big numbers there. His top two performing cities on Spotify are Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
The rap and Pitchforky type of stuff is less clear. I think it has something to do with how it handles New York, which ostensibly would be dominating a lot of artists’ “where people listen” lists. Because it breaks up the boroughs it leaves openings for other places. After New York, Chicago has the next largest black population in the country, potentially explaining how some rappers do better there than even in their home cities.
L.A. has the second-highest amount of white people for a city after New York, maybe explaining why trendy Pitchfork stuff often lands there.
Sometimes, like in Lorn’s case, I have no idea how breakdowns work. Googling “lorn warsaw” doesn’t give any clues. Same thing on YouTube. Looking at the “Similar Artists” tab on Spotify doesn’t help either. The producers its algorithms have decided it’s most like, Slugabed, Nosaj Thing, and Shlohmo, aren’t that geographically similar in their fanbases to Lorn, besides L.A. and Chicago crossover.
The closest thing I could find is that Lorn is apparently technically “synthwave” which apparently has a slight following in Poland. The subreddit r/synthwave describes it as the “Electronic music of the Cold War,” so I guess I can see why that kind of thing would be more popular in a place like Poland. I don’t know. I’ll let you guys know if I ever figure out more.
In terms of the substance of his music, Lorn sounds very synth-driven and industrial. It reminds me of a dancier version of the music that the designer Samuel Ross makes for promos and fashion shows for his brand, A Cold Wall. It’s all dark, cold, futuristic, industrial aesthetics that make sense to put next to one another.