Released this month, XI presents his Joy/Fear EP on New Kanada. As you’ll see in this interview, I’m quite fond of this guy’s style, and had a fun time getting to know him.
DD Welcome, XI. You’ve easily become one of my favorite artists to feature on Disco Droppings. How’s it goin’?
XI Maxin’ and relaxin’ all cool, just shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school.
DD Before I read into some of your past interviews, I listened to your music and noted a similar reaction with Actress. In both instances, I get the feeling that I’m in some alternate, almost alien environment, and I like it. If you’ve heard Actress’s R.I.P album, how has it impacted you?
XI I take that as a massive compliment because I don’t try to parallel my own productions with his, but I find his music massively inspiring and consider him probably my most favourite electronic music artist of all time. R.I.P was one of the albums I was eagerly awaiting this year and the circumstance under which I heard it for the first time was as wonderful as the album itself. His is some of the only stuff these days that puts me into an alpha state, much like you are describing. The divergent reality effect. Since 2006 his music has been the soundtrack to much of my life. Current favourites off the record are title-track “R.I.P”, “Tree of Knowledge”, “Uriel’s Black Harp”, and “Ascending”.
DD What video games have the best soundtracks, in your opinion?
XI There are many classic soundtracks that spring to mind, one that sticks out (due to the emphasis on the music itself being part of the package) is Quake 2, another is EVE Online (which I’m open to admit playing semi-regularly). Video game music is a unique breed that sits somewhere between movie scoring and just free writing. Games like Katamari have soundtracks with music that simply wouldn’t go outside of the game environment. Some classic NES titles (some of which I have sampled) that I love are games like Shadowgate, Mega Man, and of course the Final Fantasy series (Jenova boss music ftfw).
DD What would a game, with a soundtrack by XI, look like?
XI I think I would do best scoring a future-fantasy epic. Something that takes forever to finish with a twisting story line, probably to do with the origins of the universe and involving some bit where the main character is in some extra dimensional plane contemplating the nature of reality. I’m talking plate worlds, sub orbital strongholds, loads of spacecraft, innumerable star faring races, plenty of chronicled inter-galactic lore, large-scale wars. Oh yeah, and it would also have to primarily be a love story. But the main character doesn’t get the girl at the end and the bad guys win.
DD Your new “Joy/Fear” EP on New Kanada has an incredibly distinct atmosphere. The track, “Nightlif” creates such a confident mood, very deep and emotional. What was the most rewarding thing about making this release?
XI Putting out this latest record was great. I was really happy with the tracks and could feel that they really suited where I’m at artistically and express exactly what’s going on in my mind currently. Working with Adam Marshall has been a great experience, and all the tracks on this record have been directly inspired by my new found life here in Berlin. Over the last year the way I make music, the way I think about it and how it actually ends up sounding has changed drastically, so I’m glad to have some of this new stuff see the light of day AND be received so well across the board. Even the free promotional give-away track Glythe was something I was really excited to get out there.
DD Going way back to a release you did in 2008, Smoke Signal/Strategy on Off Road Recordings..”Smoke Signal” is a mammoth track dude! Wow, was not expecting a track like that. Was your mindset much different back then, or is this just a different approach to making beats?
XI Back then, comparatively, I had no idea what I was doing. So long as it had complex rolling drums and a huge baseline I was satisfied. In ’08 I was primarily concerned with writing tracks for my DJ sets that would get people moving and work out the sound systems. I am still cognizant of sound system workouts in my new stuff, but I’m personally getting more satisfaction out of making more expressive music, some might say I’m moving more into listener territory these days, and whether or not that is true, one thing I can say is that I’m much happier with my output lately than I have ever been.
DD Where do you plan to take XI in the rest of 2012?
XI Live set, longer records, more story telling, more trance inducing melodic sojourns, more Bill Withers appropriation, getting slower and slower, and taking over the world by sword or subterfuge.
– Jimi Jaxon