This student spotlight introduces you to XYOUX. This rising Floridan native has made LA a new home for her signature cinematic midtempo music style. Learn about XYOUX’s musical journey, inspirations, and experiences studying music production at ICON.
XYOUX is an artist who puts thought behind every aspect of her music. Everything from the album artwork to her logo to how she presents herself on stage. All these details serve a purpose to enhance the listener’s experience of her music.
XYOUX understands that her music is just as much for everyone else as it is for her. She wants her journey as an artist to inspire, provoke thought, and catalyze the imagination. She’s also aware that accomplishing these goals takes much more than great music.
Sonically, XYOUX exists outside of traditional genre standards. Elements of house, bass music, and even sounds from beyond the electronic spectrum permeate her style. She likes to describe it as “Cinematic Midtempo Music.” Although, per her philosophies on connecting with her audience, someone could describe it however they want.
We spoke to XYOUX about her migration from Florida to LA, some of her most prominent musical influences, and more. Read our exclusive interview below!
What was it like moving from Florida to LA? Did you move here specifically to pursue music, or was that something you realized you wanted to do after you came here?
I moved to LA in 2013, originally for acting. It was one of those “I don’t want to wonder what if” things. It went well for a little bit. Then I turned union, and suddenly, I wasn’t doing anything because everything is non-union. So, I was just sitting around all day every day, twiddling my thumbs, not doing much.
Then my buddy threw his electronic drum kit at me. I used to play drums for a long time and was very musical as a kid. So, I just started doing that again and somehow picked up Ableton Live. Then I got to know music production a little bit and suddenly had this thing I could do every day. I latched on to it and fell in love with it. I loved it more than acting and found myself not going to acting classes or not wanting to go to auditions because I wanted to stay home and make music. Probably a year and a half later, I was like, “ok, I need to address this and do that.” So that’s what I’ve been doing every day since.
Because you had such a long history of playing drums, do you think you picked up music production quicker?
It definitely helps for sure as far as rhythm goes and stuff like that. Whenever I’m listening to a song, I drum in my head to it a little bit. Of course, it’s easier to do that in your head than put into MIDI. But yeah, it helps for sure.
Your artist photos feature you wearing a metallic mask surrounded by ominous colors and dim lighting, an original visual aesthetic. How does your music relate to these visuals? Have you always associated music with images?
Music is a great way, and I don’t know if this is the old actress in me, to paint this scene in your head. But, I feel like you can always picture what music means, and it changes with each person. With the mask, initially, I wanted something on stage to say the word “you.” I was originally going to have a black mask with the word “you” across it. I wanted people looking at me on stage to see that word and then see themselves up there and be like, “you can do this. This is for you.” It wasn’t about me.
Then I found this mask you see now and fell in love with it. I have the exes in front of the word “YOU,” and I initially like how that looked because exes are nice and clean. But then I was like, “ok, that can mean something more. What does that mean?”
Exes symbolize crossing something out, negating something, getting rid of it. So, the “X” before the word “YOU” represents your past. Don’t let your past define who you are now. The “X” afterward would be the future. Don’t worry about the future, and don’t focus too much on it. Your future selves and past selves don’t exist; only you do now. So that’s where XYOUX comes from.
He whole thing with the mask also represents the duality with my music. I would love to be playing a set, and when or if the mask comes on, it will be a more aggressive moment. The duality of fun, anthem-y stuff mixed with the more aggressive side I think we all sometimes have.
In researching for the interview, some artists I saw you praise were REZZ, Feed Me, and Black Tiger Sex Machine. None of these artists fit traditional genre standards, and they all have a certain grueling darkness to their sound. What is it about artists like this that interest you so much?
REZZ, I find fascinating because she doesn’t make music that would necessarily make people want to dance. It’s fascinating to me that in electronic dance music you can make something like that and have people enjoy it. They can just sit there and listen, and it affects them in a certain way. Rhythmic bass music. What a crazy concept! I like REZZ for that, and I’m trying to learn how to do something similar. Make effective music that’s still simple.
I love Black Tiger for their aggressive guitar chug sounding stuff because it’s fun. One of my favorite bands is also Muse. When you hear that guitar come in or those more aggressive basslines, there’s something in you, at least with me, that fills with energy.
Feed Me is also a joy to listen to. The music producer part of me loves sitting there thinking, “oh my god, how does he do it?” He’s also able to move you through a song in such a great way. Moreover, he isn’t as aggressive; it’s more melodic. I get the feels with his music. For instance, he has a song I recently found called “Sleepless.” It’s very chill and ambient. It’s also very fun to listen to.
In your IG bio, it says you make “Cinematic Midtempo Music.” What does this definition mean to you?
It means I want to incorporate a lot of braams and cinematic effects into my music. The way trailers build suspense for movies; that’s what I want to do in my music. I want my music to be an experience and not necessarily just something to listen to. For example, I picture my sets opening with these big cinematic intros with braams going off. Then the music starts, and everyone’s all hyped up from that.
How has the XYOUX sound developed since you attended ICON? What’s been the most beneficial aspect of being a part of the collective?
Coming in, I was strictly at the midtempo 100 bpm type of thing. That’s what I said I make and want to make. I’ve dabbled a little bit more with some different stuff. Right now, I’m looking into synth wave/cyberpunk stuff because that would be fun to also mix with a more aggressive style. It would also represent the duality type of thing I could play with in my music.
That’s how my music has progressed so far. I’ve also taken to the keyboard techniques class, which is a huge benefit of coming to ICON. Being more in touch with the melodic side and learning how music actually works. Knowing what chords are, what chords are in a scale, and playing chords helps me get a feeling of where I want to go with a track. Just that raw musician thing. Playing this and being like “ok, this leads to that” rather than throwing stuff in a DAW and seeing what happens. I’m able to approach song making with a more musical look.