At the tender age of 19, XO has begun a budding career as a multi-faceted producer, songwriter, and DJ out of the UK. His sound, forward; his lyrics, relateable; vibes, on point. It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect out of the UK at the moment, illustrious coupled basslines with diverse percussive arrangements that accentuate the featured vocalist. For his debut EP, “Through The Night,” a three track feature takes place with a credible range of tunes from sultry sub-soul to to hustling UK garage that is reassuring for his Freshmen release. We got the chance to exchange words with XO after “Through The Night” was released on December 1st where his affinity for Justin Timberlake comes to life, his highlights from the year as a newcomer are revealed, and some possible projects for 2015 divulged.. dig in!
YOU MENTION THAT YOU HADN’T BEGUN PRODUCING UNDER “XO” UNTIL YOU FELT YOU’D REACHED A CONSISTENT PLACE IN YOUR SOUND – WHAT WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THAT AS?
I’d say a fusion of several musical styles I grew up listening to, making way for a distinctive sound that will hopefully, one day, be recognised by many.
DID YOU NOTICE A CHANGE IN SOUND THE MORE PERSONAL YOUR MUSIC GOT?
Yeah definitely, there was times where I wasn’t focused on what I really wanted to create, so I had a little self discovery period – everything came to light after a few months. Since then, I think I’ve gone from strength to strength in terms of my sound and I’m writing music that is 100% what I’m about as an individual.
YOU’VE KNOWN MNEK SINCE YOU WERE BOTH PRETTY YOUNG – WHAT ARE THE CHANCES ON ANY COLLABORATIVE MATERIAL IN THE FUTURE? WAS “PULLING ME UNDER” A LITTLE TASTE OF WHAT COULD BE?
Ha, I’m sure there’ll be some form of collaboration at one point down the line, we’re both just doing our own thing at the moment. Yeah, with “Pulling Me Under” – myself, Leo and MNEK are all passionate about lyrical content so it was great that we wrote something we’re all really proud of. I guess you could call it a little taster in that sense.
WITH THE STYLE YOU’VE DEVELOPED IT WOULD SEEM RIPE FOR A LOT OF TALENTED RNB ARTISTS TO HOP ON – ANYONE IN PARTICULAR YOU FANCY?
Justin Timberlake, Justin Timberlake &; Justin Timberlake. Jokes aside, there’s so much wicked upcoming talent, I’m really loving a US based duo who go by the name of abhi//dijon at the moment – would be great to work with them one day.
YOU’VE PUT A HOLD ON YOUR EDUCATION WHILE YOU EXPLORE WHERE YOUR MUSIC CAN TAKE YOU – WAS THAT A HARD DECISION TO MAKE?
For me, it wasn’t a hard decision at all, I’d just reached a point with education where I was mentally exhausted and wanted to pursue something I’m truly passionate about. The hardest bit was convincing my parents, but I did it!
I’M SURE GETTING SOME MAJOR NODS FROM RADIO 1 THIS YEAR REALLY HELPED WITH THAT DECISION MAKING PROCESS – WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PAST YEAR?
Playing the BBC introducing stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Glasgow back in May was so sick, probably one of my proudest moments of 2014.
Also, my first Annie Mac play was pretty special, it was great to get that support from her, especially since I’ve been listening to her radio shows for years. Not to mention her credibility as a worldwide tastemaker.
I think the biggest highlight of this year was releasing my debut EP: “Through The Night” – it was great to finally show everyone what I’d been working on behind the scenes. It’s done really well so far and has received some solid support over the past couple of months from Radio 1/1xtra DJs and artists/producers that I respect.
**Listen to the EP exclusive, “Numb,” (my personal favorite) as debuted on SOHN’s November Radio 1 Show (27:25)**
YOU’VE HAD SOME STEADY GIGS AS A DJ THIS PAST YEAR – WHAT KIND OF SELECTS CAN YOUR AUDIENCE COME TO EXPECT?
I usually play really eclectic sets which include my current tastes and musical influences. Of course it depends on the occasion and atmosphere, but expect anything from Luther Vandross to Adam Beyer! Also, I can’t forget the classic: Stardust – “Music Sounds Better With You”.
WHAT IS CURRENTLY IN THE PIPELINE FOR XO NOW THAT YOUR DEBUT EP IS OUT?
A remix or two, a second EP and a whole bunch of UK shows! 2015 should be a wicked year.
OK, LAST QUESTION! WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE TUNE AT THE MOMENT?
Been bumping “Switch” by Will Smith for some reason recently, rediscovered it on YouTube a couple of days ago. Such a banger. HEEEEY, HEEEEY!
So there you have it, XO, a name not soon to be forgotten as he embarks on his ambitious 2015. Although those stateside will have to remain patient for any live appearances, I’m sure some heavy collaborations and remixes in the works will tide you over.