At just after 12am, we're not yet at "The Weird Part of The Night" – the time between three and six when, in Cole's own words, "No one can fuck your shit". But like many other artists, he finds his creative gears shift in the early hours. With a new EP, Live Sesh and Xtra Songs, just about to drop, the jazz polymath is currently locked – seemingly literally – into writing sessions for album number four, where noctural spikes of frantic inspiration are the norm.

“There's some crazy mystery going on with circadian rhythms.” He says. “I don't think anyone really understands it. When you get hit by jet lag, for example, it's way beyond just being in a different sunset and sunrise time. It's like, something else. I think the human body is way more complex than we realise.”

“I personally feel way better when I'm in a crazy-weird schedule like this.” He admits. “Sometimes, I'll go to bed at 9 or 10am and wake at 4pm. I can get into this energy where I just never feel like going to sleep....” A reflective pause. “I do have to make sure I get Viatmin D and a little bit of sunlight. But at least when I drive now, I never hit traffic.”

It's been about seven months since Cole released his album Time on Brainfeeder, having been welcomed into the Fly Lo fold following his work on Thundercat's board-sweeping 2017 release, Drunk. Time is a frequently hilarious and often charming jazz-funk curiosity, anchord by Cole's ambidextrous musciality (he plays drums, keys, guitar, sings and produces everything). Its songs also showcase a new, goofy brand of philosophy from Cole: from "Trying Not to Die's" plea for a few more earthly hours, to "Things", with its central refrain – "Things may not work out how you thought" – offering an unexpectedy tender cathartis amongst the rambucious slap-bass. I ask him if the existential focus was a conscious one.

“Honestly, I always just take it one song at a time. Whatever you hear is whatever I was feeling when I was writing.” He says. “A lot of the songs had the word 'Time' in them and when I listened to them all together on my iTunes it just felt right as the theme. It was originally just gonna be called Louis Cole Album Three, but then I was like 'nah'.” He jokes.

Cole describes his primary quest as “trying to make my own favourite music.” Way back on his self-titled debut, this meant more lo-fi noise, layered vocals and ethereal, guitar-picked ballards. As he's gotten older, he says his work as “gotten less and less avant garde sounding” and 'pop' is now where he's most comfortable situating himself, namechecking Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, The Beatles and 80s pop gems Scritti Politti as having impacted his craft. As a fan of his EDM-laced side project KNOWER – a raucous collaboration with long-time music-making partner Genevieve Artadi – I wonder if there's any obnxious dubstep buried somewhere in his collection. I am not entirely prepared for the response.

“Skrillex changed my life.” Cole beams, offering a flurry of praise. “Some of that stuff is really dear to my heart. There's a very specific period of Skrillex for me – the stuff between 2009 and 2013 – that's so free and crazy. It's funny, silly, full of goofy sounds. They are so beautiful. Honestly, there's so much groove and so much melody [in his music].” So the whirring soars and screeching drops that give KNOWER's tunes that extra-special oomf – the King of Bro-Step is responsible? “Totally. I was at a Skrillex show in 2011 maybe, and I just remember being like, I think I finally understand why this stuff is so awesome.”

Cole insists that he “never [tries] to make my music accessible to anyone.” This point is notable, since – at least in the context of the jazz-funk cannon he sits within – he's amassed a huge, and rather mainstream, fan base. Cole flags the importance of YouTube in propelling him into the public consciousness, and specifically "Bank Account", his first video to go viral: “That was so weird man. I only put that video up so I could show people I'd been practicing keybaord.” He laughs. “I really thought it would do nothing. And then … a lot of celebrities posted about it! I got the entire Red Hot Chilli Peppers' tour from that one song. John Mayer tweeted it. That Charlie Day guy from It's Always Sunny. And Bjork posted it. Of all of the songs I thought Bjork would like, that would be the last one.” If he had a chance to send her another for review? “One of the old ballads, maybe. There's a ballad called 'That's Where You Are' that I did with Genevieve. Because Bjork's done a lot orchestra-y, string kinda stuff recently. But no, it was 'Bank Account'.” He shrugs.

Louis Cole

It's not just fully grown adults who fall for Cole's madcap stylings either – he says he gets sent “a tonne of videos of kids and babies dancing to my stuff. Which is funny, because then you'll get some industry guy who's like 40 and” – he puts on a nasal, record exec voice – “'Your music's too weird'. I mean, I got, like, eight year olds going crazy to my track – you really can't tell me that.” He laughs. Cole's youth appeal might have something to do with his increasingly adventuours home-made videos, from more modest, multi-camera cuts like "Blimp" , to his recent live session for "F--- It Up", which saw him squeeze an entire wind section, backing dancers and a stair-perched drum kit into the downstairs of his house. “Ever since I was a kid I loved drawing and animating, all that visual art stuff. I used to mess around making little stop motion animations, so I think it just kinda transferred over into making videos.” I get the impression that Cole also likes to have control over all aspects of his music, including his promos. “Yeah I do, definitely. There are some directors and visual people I'd like to work with eventually, but most of the time I know exactly what I want it to look like and I know that I can do it. Most of the time when it's DIY looking, I want it to look DIY, because it's right for the song.”

With all this going on, I wonder if Cole ever felt like throwing in the traditional towel and just becoming a kitch internet star. But he feels that the whole "Bank Account" blow-up just solidified what he already knew about himself: he wasn't going to be lead by anything other than a desite to make great, honest music. “With 'Bank Account', I was finally starting to have this success. The songs were starting to catch on, people started to know who I was. But I wasn't inspired to keep doing that.” He says. “Maybe I would have made more money, gained more recognition or whatever. I just could not do it – after those three short tracks, I wanted to work on these longer songs, on an album. And I just proved to myself that I'm in it to follow the inpriation and make music that's the strongest, best music that I can. I was actually really happy that I stayed true to that.”

In addition to his editing chops, it's also arguably Cole's outright weirdness that's earned him such a virulent fan base. Single "When You're Ugly" is a prime example: aside from its video, which features a chorus line containing a four-armed woman and a pair of penis-headed extras waving 'LC' flags, the song itself is a sort of anthem for the less aesthetically blessed amongst us. “A lot of people who comment on that song are mad at me because they say 'you're not ugly!'.” He laughs. “And I'm not saying I'm ugly. I don't think I'm ugly, personally ... I mean sometimes I... I'm sure everyone goes through times when they do. But it's more about representing the feeling everyone has at some point.” We discuss how rare it is to hear that kind of sentiment in pop music. “Yeah... It's totally underpresented. And I think it needed to be that simple and, quote, 'stupid' on purpose. I didn't feel I could write about it any other way.”

It's true that Cole seems pretty uncompromising in his approach to writing lyrics. Some of the track title's on Time's sleeve – "After the Load Is Blown" for example – betray their content immediately. Others only reveal themselves on first listen, such as KNOWER's "The Government Knows" – a song about how, during periods of millitary downtime, spy equipment is diverted to watch you masturbate (sample lyrics: “They're all around, they're all-knowing / The only dick they haven't seen is Edward Snowden's”). “I'm just talking how I would in real life.” Cole explains with a grin. “When I'm talking to someone or hanging out with a friend, I'm trying to make jokes all the time. So when I write lyrics, I'm not ever trying to seperate that out. That's why there's not a lot of flowery wrtitng, 'casue I can't really talk like that.” I ask if any of his more explicit songs have ever gotten him into trouble. “Yeah, yeah definitely. There was one song that was just so vulgar. I did it live once and someone actually came up to me after the show and had really took it the wrong way. I wouldn't want anyone to think I meant any harm, ever. So I scrapped it.”

He also has to forwarn his parents when something particularly colourful is in the pipeline. Cole remembers the first time his folks heard the album track "Freaky Times" which surely employs some of the best euphemisms for sex ever commiteed to vinyl ('Skim my dictionary' is a stunner). “My mom was like” – Cole's voice lifts an octave – “'Louis, why did you write that song?' I was like, Mom, that was honest, that was just how I was feeling.” He chuckles. “There's a few times I've had to tell my parents, 'Guys, this one has some mature themes in it.'”

Underneath the fruitness though, Cole is still driven by purity of expression and a desire to do the un-done thing. “Really, there are so many artists that, as soon as they write anything remotely sexual, it sounds so corny and almost cliché. It makes my skin crawl. And I felt I could write something that was honest enough... or different, somehow. So that's why I wrote that song. Your parents are always gonna be shocked by some of the stuff you write.”

Cole speaks with much warmth about his parents, who've stuck by his side even when sneering record execs may have turned their noses up. “I'm really close to them.” He smiles. “It's pretty cool. Even with 'The Government Knows', they really liked that song. I'm lucky that my parents get it. They usually email my music to their friends.” Cole acknowledges that his family's musical roots aid that understanding. “My dad plays a lot of jazz piano. My mom played bass for a while. For many years, when my music wasn't necessarily catching on, they loved it and they believed in me.” Having shown enthusiasm for the sticks at a very young age, Cole feels extremely lucky that his parents tolerated the racket – that early introduction having put him on course to study jazz at The University of Southern California's prestigious Thornton School of Music. “I mean, I started playing drums when I was eight. You have to have really cool parents to have a drum set when you're young, because they're loud. Something like piano, you can get away from. Drums you can't really escape.”

With future shows pending, our talk turns to the tour and the possible carnage that might ensue. During his recent run-around with the acclaimed Norbotten Big Band, Cole had the horns dress up in bee-keeping atire, with various bizarre antics on stage. In London, this involved his tour manager masquerading as the Grim Reaper and smashing a chair over him to close the show. “That was only at two shows – London and Paris – because I could only afford two chairs.” Cole explains. “They're way more expensive than regular chairs. I mean you could get a regular chair really cheap but you wouldn't want that smashed on you every night.” Why a chair smash? “Well, in the 'When You're Ugly' video, there was a chair smash. I actually made that chair myself: I have no idea why I decided to build it rather than buy it. I just thought it was funny – like one of those things from old wrestling TV shows.”

At his upcoming London date, Louis confirms he'll be going solo and major stunts might be substituted for some time swatting up on his scores: “Everytime I have a show I have to take a couple days to remind myself how to play my own songs. I usually forget 'em really easily so [on stage] I'm often there just trying to concerntrate.” He smiles. “But of course, I wanna do more live. If I had an infinite budget for shows, there'd probably be things being smashed on people at all times. That's the dream.”

As the moon rises high over LA, Louis is ready to go back to practicing. With the time just shy of 1am, and so many hours already on the clock, a little bit of me wonders how much better he can get. “Hopefully I'll sound better on drums – I've been practicing drums, like, four hours every day. After that I'm trying to learn electric bass, practicng that for about an hour. Then writing music for another.... seven hours? Oh and eat for a couple hours. And that's my whole day.” What's fallen out of his early morning writing sessions so far? “I'm hopefully gonna have some more of those short songs [like Bank Account]. From there, I'm just gonna write as much music as I can. I already have three songs of my own that will be on the next album, and one song for KNOWER.”

If this sounds like a gruelling schedule, Cole's very much aware. “I've always worked really hard but recently it's been … even more psychotic” He laughs, before quickly correcting that he means this “in a healthy way” . “I really need to do it. A lot of alone time has been really good: it's helped me get to the next level.” Again, we find ourselves back on the subject of time, and Cole offers something charactistically poiyant and unpolished about its importance. “Time is the coolest thing that you can have.” He says. “There's nothing greater. Except maybe inspiration. Those are the two greatest gifts you can get from the universe.”

Live Sesh and Xtra Songs is out 5 April on Brainfeeder