HXV is an anomaly in the industry. A trailblazer who continues to follow his own unique path. As a DJ and producer, he helped to pioneer electronic trap music fusing rap records from his native Atlanta with early dubstep and creating edits of electro tracks with trap drums and 808s. He’s graced stages around the globe, impressed on Diplo and Friends, and created an audio/visual installation at Art Basel. Amidst his peak he opted to completely shift his sound more than once, moving from techno, to darkwave and beyond. He’s taken years off from releases to help others struggling with addiction and mental health disorders, and pops up every so often with something fresh. Most recently he dropped his new seven-year-in-the-making single ‘Dance No More,’ and announced a quarterly residency with rising Atlanta powerhouse DEF. He’s also become a managing partner at Soundbridge Logic, an investment firm that focuses within music. If that wasn’t enough, he’s worked with rap icons ranging from T.I. and Lil Jon to Lil Uzi Vert and Kenny Mason.
Defying expectations and boundaries, it’s an honour to have the elusive artist joining us for an in-depth interview and guest mix. We talk about his new residency, a career without touring, his love for Future (the rapper), NFTs and web3, and much more. As for the mix, it’s a downtempo trip sprinkled with unreleased from his side project feels nothing. Check both below.
Tell us about this mix. What’s the vibe that you wanted to create with this one?
HXV: Since we spent some time in lockdown from COVID (although to be fair GA didn’t really “participate” in COVID) but I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient music, especially while I’ve been painting in my art studio (something that I took back up needing another outlet besides music). The mix is reflective of these more introspective moments and I have some of my unreleased material in there as well.
Congrats on the new residency with DEF! How did the relationship and opportunity come about?
HXV: I’ve been a friend and supporter of Christie and Ross for awhile now. I’ve loved what they’re doing in atlanta and It’s been so in line with things I’ve done in the city over the years. They are smart and creative and are building their own thing. Anything I can do to help encourage that I will. They were actually at my art installation +CHAPEL+ at Art Basel back in 2013. It’s really cool to see these full circle moments happen. When I was considering what I wanted a live experience of HXV to be moving forward it was a no brainer because our visions are so aligned.
It gives me creative freedom to do what I want also because I’m not making something to go tour or get on a festival line up. I’m now existing outside of that entire system which is very liberating.
Along with the residency you announced your retirement from touring. What factors lead to this decision? Do you think there is a future for more artists, particularly in electronic music, to have successful careers without touring?
HXV: I haven’t toured anyway since like 2017 so it’s just something I haven’t been interested in. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do with HXV I’ve always wanted a controlled experience. You don’t get that when you’re touring, I was at the mercy of outlying factors like the logistics of the venue or opening acts or the branding of the event. I’ve always tried to curate experiences, so that was something that was important to me if I’m “parking” HXV as a brand in a space. The pandemic lockdown made me rethink possibilities of what shows can be in the future. I’ve always loved the idea of small, special shows and since my vision is so aligned with DEF it only made sense to partner with them. I’ll be doing quarterly events only in atlanta. If you want the experience you’ll need to travel – and we will be recording it like they do all their sets and the shows will live in perpetuity in the online space.
As for a future for artists not having to tour, sure. We are in a time where artists can reach more people online than in person by a far margin and you control the experience. There’s ways to monetize that experience so they can still make an income. For myself I don’t have to go tour so I have the freedom to be able to do something like play four shows a year and not worry about how I’m going to pay rent or put food on the table. It gives me creative freedom to do what I want also because I’m not making something to go tour or get on a festival line up. I’m now existing outside of that entire system which is very liberating.
You made your return to releasing music late last year with ‘Dance No More.’ Should we expect more music from you in 2022? If so, where is your sound heading?
HXV: I actually started that song back in 2015 and have reworked it countless times. I was just waiting for the right time to release it and it felt like the right time. I originally wrote it as a snarky techno anthem, a social comment about people not engaging at shows anymore or being too cool. Kind of like the techno version of VETEMENTS or what demna does with balenciaga – trolling fashion. Again the lens of the pandemic isolation filters everything and the song took on a new meaning to people not dancing anymore. As for my sound with HXV the only consistent I would say is everything is always dark and tries to not rehash versions of its previous self. I also have an all techno project called feels nothing and I produce rap music under zone6danny.
Your love for Future is well documented. What makes Future so special?
HXV: Future without exaggeration is probably my favorite artist in any genre lol. I don’t think any modern artist encapsulates the feeling of depression when achieving success and getting everything you want and realizing it’s not enough to fix you more than future. There’s a pain in his music and in his voice that’s so heavy. He is the modern day Otis Redding. You can’t listen to ‘Hardly’ and tell me Otis Redding wouldn’t have made that record. And ‘Codeine Crazy’ is one of the best rap songs ever recorded.
You seem to be really tapped into the Atlanta rap scene. Can you name a few artists we should be watching and why?
HXV: 21 Savage’s little brother 21 lil Harold has everything he needs to go. Kenny Mason is someone I was working with early on that I really believe in. I have a project with ManMan Savage that I feel is his best work to date. iivrson, Ken Carson, Real Recognize Rio, sofaygo. There’s a bunch – rap music is our main export.
Outside of your work in music you’re heavily involved in helping people struggling with addiction and mental health. The music industry has been strongly impacted by addiction and mental health issues. Do you have any thoughts on how we could better support and help artists going through these struggles?
HXV: I think labels need to provide mental health services for all artists at the very least. A lot of these kids especially in the rap world are coming out of extreme conditions. Suffering from PTSD, they aren’t used to navigating this new world they’ve found themselves in. Providing mental health services and encouraging growth and healing would do wonders for all involved, including save lives.
If you have web3 this is kind of like music3. I’m building an infrastructure that would be the blueprint for the future of the industry moving forward.
You recently became a managing partner at Soundbridge Logic. What does your role entail? What does Soundbridge Logic bring to the music industry that was missing?
HXV: As a managing partner it’s my role to help manage our fund so deciding what we invest in, where it fits into our overall vision, and what IP and tools we can cross collateralize into other companies in our portfolio. I source companies that I believe in and we begin talks in what they need in terms of funding to reach their goals. Soundbridge is only investing in music companies. And I’m focusing primarily on the intersection of music x tech. We are building an ecosystem of companies that are solving current and forthcoming problems in the music industry. Instead of a traditional label model this ecosystem acts more as a living organism where we facilitate services that are applicable for the content itself. I’ve co-founded another company called Series B with my partner Jason Pittman that will act more like a tech incubator model for these new companies some of which are pre-revenue as we look for new solutions to pervasive issues in the music industry. If you have web3 this is kind of like music3. I’m building an infrastructure that would be the blueprint for the future of the industry moving forward.
If you had unlimited resources to fix one problem in the music industry what would it be?
HXV: My resources aren’t unlimited but I have access to enough to try to do just that. And that’s what we are doing with Soundbridge Logic and Series B. Solving everything from royalty payment systems, distribution platforms, artificial intelligent A+R, and looking to blockchain solutions for issues regarding song rights, licensing etc.
We are just scratching the surface of all of this and just starting the conversation. It’s an exciting time for technology where we are actually making big strides and major shifts as opposed to incremental progress on existing tech.
You’ve been known to stay ahead of the curve in the industry. What are your current thoughts on the NFT space and Web3 as it pertains to music? Are there any avenues that excite you?
HXV: Right in my wheelhouse of what I’m working on. I think NFTs as a utility can be pretty exciting. We are just scratching the surface of all of this and just starting the conversation. It’s an exciting time for technology where we are actually making big strides and major shifts as opposed to incremental progress on existing tech. Out of the NFT projects I’ve seen I am consistently impressed with Pak. I’m an artist and I gravitate towards other artists and he’s someone or someone’s that are pushing the boundaries of the medium (NFT’s) and reframing our concept of ownership. These types of things excite me because they expand our understandings and possibilities.
What’s the most recent book, film, or tv show that impacted you profoundly and why?
HXV: I recently watched Midnight Mass and I loved a lot of the themes in it. The writing in that show was brilliant. I also went back and rewatched Neon Genesis Evangelion and the films afterwards including the new ones and it’s just such an incredible work of art. The entire thing – there’s a reason why it’s considered one of the best animes of all time.
Any final words?
HXV: Just wanted to say I appreciate you guys for always showing me love and support over the years. I love this site and you always have good content and good contributors who show that they care and they actually dig and search for new music. It’s becoming more and more rare and the effort you put in doesn’t go unnoticed.
feels nothing – everything and nothing
feels nothing – rave decay
feels nothing – can’t lose you
Introversion – Dystopia
SNTS – ES19
VII Circle – Unknown
Memorial Home – Second Floor