[Behind the Beat] X&G Release 2nd Full-Length Album, ‘Persona’
Salt Lake City-based duo, X&G, has been shaking things up for the dance music and trap world since late 2015. Despite their lack of commitment to a record label, the duo, which is made up of Aaron Simmons (Gaszia) and Christian Williams (Xian), have released multiple tracks through industry-giant Skrillex’s label, OWSLA. They are known for their catchy collaborations with Josh Pan – such as ‘Platinum’ – which even received a music video produced by Liam Underwood himself. Check it out below.
Each track off X&G’s first full-length album, Anomalies, has a cinematic sound behind it that reminds listeners of blockbuster soundtracks. Although their music is so well-produced that it can evoke the feel of films, it also has the ability to make massive crowds at festivals go insane. Xian and Gaszia have brought and will continue to bring something totally new to the tables; one of the missing links between the underground and the mainstream could be held by them.
It has been about a year and a half since we have gotten a new X&G album. The seemingly long wait has ended though, with the release of their sophomore record, Persona, this past Friday, September 1st. The seasoned duo has a unique, deep, and massive sound that has even caught the attention of globally-known producer, Kill The Noise. Take a glance at what KTN had to say about the newest X&G album on Twitter below.
*if* i were on acid i would either really enjoy listening to the new @xandgmusic album or it would terrify me, either way… fuck yea
— к†и (@killthenoise) August 24, 2017
Looks like they’ve got his seal of approval.
I was given the chance to chat with X&G about their new release and what is behind it, as well as a little bit about their interests. Read the full interview below!
Mix 247 EDM: Persona is your 2nd full-length album – being released about a year and a half since your first record, Anomalies. Can you tell us a bit about how the concept of Persona came to be?
Xian (X): Persona originally came from us putting out a ton of isolated singles on Soundcloud throughout our journey on the road & our time at home. Compiling content into one solid body of work to tell a story has always been a big part of what we want to do, so this project fits that exact mold.
Gaszia (G): Yeah it just reflects our travels and the environments/places we’ve been around since touring. The artwork, the vids we used for promo, they all kind of tied in together to peer into our lives on the road.
Mix 247 EDM: How does Persona differ from Anomalies? How have you grown as artists since the release of your first album?
X: I think the clear difference is in our ability to step away from being very experimental and instead experiment with more dance oriented grooves and elements. This comes from a ton of feedback we received when we released Anomalies and was a goal we wanted to hit on with the tracks that followed that release. While still pretty experimental in nature, I think these new songs are more relatable in a live context. Feels as if we’re finally finding our footing.
G: Anomalies was more of us just trying out different ideas. While a lot of them were very unique, they were also very… out there. Lots of people love that, but once being on the road we realized a lot of the material wasn’t super playable on a dance floor. Anomalies were more of an experiment, this is more of us honing in on making weird music, but more danceable, as X mentioned.
Mix 247 EDM: What inspired the creativity behind the promotional aspects of the Persona campaign?
X: I often check out databases for graphic/visual inspiration and saw something that was somewhat similar to what I’ve been doing with the countdown promotional graphics. I basically spun the idea I saw on my own and ran with it. Surprised by the first one (the 10 graphics) it felt natural to follow through with an entire series. They’re fun as hell to make and it was easier with Omar (our TM & personal photog) feeding me photos that would work for some of the numbers.
Mix 247 EDM: What inspired the album artwork? What do the Polaroids represent?
X: The talk about this album being centered around our personal journey has been there since day 1. I think the Polaroids captured something real and relatable as opposed to pressing out some graphic art that may look pretty but doesn’t speak to where we’ve been and who we’ve met along the way so far. Seemed like a cool idea that turned out to be way better than expected after putting them all together and scanning them in as a whole.
Mix 247 EDM: What thoughts, emotions, or ideas do you hope to inspire through Persona for your listeners?
X: I would hope the biggest takeaway from this project is that we are real dudes just doing our thing and that you can just be a real dude/dudette and still put out quality stuff, regardless of your label ties, connections or lack thereof. I think it showcases our ability to do what we want when we want and on our own terms. That’s not always the easiest thing to pull off in today’s music industry.
G: Yeah it still is super humbling when someone comes up to one of us at a show and says that we inspire them. To me and X we are just a couple of normal guys. If you wanna come talk to us, we’ll talk to you. If you wanna be our friend, we’ll be your friend. We are just people, like everybody else. Even a lot of bigger artists we look up to. It’s really cool to meet them but if you treat them like a human, you generate such a more real relationship with them.
Mix 247 EDM: You guys are known for your unique and dynamic collabs with Josh Pan like “Platinum” and “Whiplash.” Will there by more collabs with him on the album? Are there any other collabs on Persona you’re stoked on?
X: GRAVITY is with Josh. All of the 3 collabs on the album are great, but I think Hate Machine w/ Nate turned out magically as we did it in basically 1-2 sessions and is the latest piece of work on the entire album.
G: There are some amazing collabs on the album. I think a lot of people will enjoy Gravity since it’s with Josh Pan, but our personal fave is Hate Machine with our good friend Nate Lowpass. Dude is a super humble and talented guy from SLC. We’ve been working with him on some more stuff that we’re all stoked on.
Mix 247 EDM: Who do you guys aim to work with in the future?
X: Cool ass people that are real and down to take some risks and think outside of the norm.
G: Lots of cool inspirational names come to mind, but yeah I think cool people who are down to step outside of the norm. If you’re a chill person and we get along, we down to work.
Mix 247 EDM: People say that watching you work together on a track is like watching the magic happen. What does your creative process look like when it comes to making music together? Why?
X: I don’t know if it’s really magic to see, but we both just sit in a room with our laptops vibing off of each other and then eventually combining our parts onto one machine that we then both work on. If not that, we tend to send things online to each other and then work remotely from each other in our own spaces.
Mix 247 EDM: You two were solo artists at one point – can you each tell us a little about that? How do your personal sounds differ from each other, and how did you figure out you meshed so well together?
X: I’m more puzzle-piecey heavily-sample based hype compositions with shitty mix downs, Gaszia is more emotional thought-out compositions with some aggro play on the side with really clean mix downs. It’s a good mesh when it comes together. Our strengths play each other’s weaknesses.
G: Back in the day we met because we were the only dudes in the area making chilled out ambient type beats. We made a lot of stuff together, even put out an EP called Feel/You. I think it exists somewhere on Youtube. To this day I still make really emotional/vibey stuff on the side. None of it has really been put out, most of our focus is in the X&G project. I think what helps us mesh so well together is we both have an open mind to trying new and weird things.
Mix 247 EDM: Where do you guys draw most of your inspiration from?
G: All over the place: traveling, friends, visual art, video games, film, and TV. There’s so much inspiration out in the world, how can you not be inspired in some way?
Mix 247 EDM: You guys seem to be really popular and loved in SLC. How does your local EDM scene affect the way you make your music?
X: The scene here is cool and it’s fun to be able to lock in with solid artists doing their own thing and see what it sounds like when we drop in on their method/s of creating.
G: We’ve always tried to be involved in the local scene in some way. It started out through our good friend Omar’s label DAMN SON. It’s how X and I met. We used to hang with all those dudes and bounce ideas off each other. then for a while, I’d play at parties that Huxley Anne and Tsuruda threw. We also would invite producers/musicians over to our apartment and just session with tons of people all day making beats, jamming. That stopped after a while when we had to return to work. Now I think a lot of noise has been made around here about us and we’ve become friends with a lot of the budding producers. It’s cool to see how diverse SLC’s scene actually is. There’s always so much going on around here.
Mix 247 EDM: Did any of the local artists you’re friends with influence the sound on Persona?
G: Yeah our good friend Nate Lowpass is from here and we made ‘Hate Machine’ with him. He came over one day and I wanted to make something acid-like. Then X and Nate took over and just made it this crazy heavy track. it’s probably one of my faves off the album because it’s something so different for us.
Mix 247 EDM: What are your personal views on EDM culture? Do you guys consider yourselves to be a part of it? Why/how?
G: Outside of the music we make we don’t listen to a lot of EDM influenced music. We like drum and bass and we’ll listen to that on car rides or when we’re super caffeinated. But most the time we like downtempo chill background stuff. Lately been listening to a lot of rock/pop/indie music. X likes to throw on podcasts or talk shows while working on visual content. As far as the culture itself I think we’re part of it but I think we want to become something more.
Mix 247 EDM: What is the best/your favorite festival you’ve ever played and why?
X: Symbiosis. it’s big, it’s by the water and I love crossing bamboo bridges at night in the middle of nowhere.
G: WTFest; The scenery was amazing, and we had a 2-hour block of us and Josh Pan b2b at the craziest stage I’ve ever seen called the Groove Qube. It was a surreal moment for me and one of my favorite sets.
Mix 247 EDM: It seems like you guys have visited a fair amount of states. What is the coolest/craziest place your travels have taken you to?
G: I went to China solo, and that was a life changing experience. I had never been overseas and being around something completely unfamiliar was super cool to experience. I hope to go back with Christian in the future soon because it was such a surreal feeling. I loved it out there.
Mix 247 EDM: At this point, what role does touring play in your careers?
X: We are down, just waiting for the opportunity to do so.
G: We haven’t toured a ton but we hope to be able to more.
Mix 247 EDM: Can we expect any upcoming shows we can catch some of the material off Persona at?
G: Definitely. We have a handful of shows coming up with our good friends in PAINT (Tsuruda and Huxley Anne). Come through
Mix 247 EDM: Do either of you have any artistic interests outside of music?
X: Making pretty stuff for your eyeballs.
G: Painting. Haven’t had the time to sit and do it yet, but I wanna get into it more.
Mix 247 EDM: What are you guys listening to these days? Any songs or artists you think our readers should check out?
G: Been listening to this mix by a Russian artist called BOP. It’s a nice mix to throw on in the car or while cooking.
Mix 247 EDM: What do you guys enjoy doing in your free time? (When you’re not making music)
X: Cooking, playing with my cat, the occasional PUBG.
G: Love to eat, cook, read, go outside and explore.
Mix 247 EDM: Where can readers purchase or stream persona? Who did you release it through?
X: All DIY, check it out here: http://bit.ly/2vEUI48
There you have it; a deeper look into the minds of X&G and a new album to check out.
Buy Persona on Bandcamp.
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