Smile Politely

The ethereal sounds of XXYYXX

As a senior in college, I still can’t get used to the fact that many popular musicians are younger than I am, and already achieving national and international prominence. Born on Halloween in 1995, Orlando, Florida-based DJ and producer XXYYXX is certainly no exception. At the ripe age of 18 19, he’s touring the nation and producing for some of the world’s biggest artists (including remixes with Tinache and Usher — yes, that Usher), and is setting his sights on The Pygmalion Festival this Friday, September 26th.*

Here’s the crazy part: XXYYXX (born Marcel Everett) hasn’t even released an album since the remarkable self-titled venture in 2012 — when he was 16 years old. If there is a testament to Generation Y’s explosion of artists who have succeeded with a Do-It-Yourself style of music, XXYYXX is certainly a sterling example. Harking on minimalism and ethereal sounds as opposed to the in-your-face bass drops of dubstep, XXYYXX presents a perhaps more accessible brand of EDM, in the vein of Kaytranada and Sango, as opposed to something more bass-oriented like Skrillex.

This versatility has allowed XXYYXX to craft projects that are as diverse as much as they are delightful. “About You”, the lead track on XXYYXX is always going to be my favorite track because I can distinctly remember hitting play and thinking “wow, this kid’s really got something.” The song is an exceptional example of this versatility, using tribal vocals to contrast with overarching female phrasing to build up to an emphatic 80’s-inspired synthesizer ending. The video for this track is enchantingly fascinating, as well, if anyone was wondering — just try not to have nightmares after that one.

“Closer”, a close second for my most favorite tracks on XXYYXX, features an acoustic guitar one would be more apt to hear in a coffeehouse soundtrack than on a producer’s album. He mixes this over manipulated vocals and a beat with trap influences (for those of you who don’t know, trap is the style of rap music, whose high-hat heavy beats have led to the rise of Chief Keef and Lil Durk) to make a track that not only dips into other genres, but seems to have no problem doing so.

Electronic music, especially in a contemporary environment, has been evolving and expanding so rapidly, that the cost of the expensive tools one needed to produce music have been steadily eroding. To say that XXYYXX is a product of this change in accessibility is an understatement: he constructed all of his self-titled release in his bedroom on FL Studios, a popular piece of beat-making software. He marketed the album himself, releasing it on his personal Bandcamp page, and from there it just took off, garnering praise across the country.

The relative ease in which someone can release their music has led to this trend in DIY production, which has certainly saturated not just the producer market, but also every genre’s market, which are seeing explosions in bands of all shapes and sizes. This saturation is both good and bad: the sheer amount of instrumental producers has skyrocketed, meaning that there is so much more to sift through to find what is actually good. In college, at least, everyone seems to know someone who produces or who at the very least makes beats on their computer, and thus the amount of people releasing new music, which may or may not be ground-breaking, is higher than ever — a lot of it not worth listening to.

With that being said, however, that increased competition has also created artists who push themselves musically to limits they normally wouldn’t have, which is precisely where XXYYXX makes his home. If the market of musicians truly is flooded, that means it’s even harder to make it to the top. In order to be recognized, one must truly be doing something extraordinary. XXYYXX does this by bucking the trend of modern electronic music to present a more alternative take on the genre, and while many others have tried, there’s something supremely authentic and emphatic about the best music being made by a teenager in his basement.

There is arguably no larger representative of this lo-fi electronic movement than XXYYXX, and honestly, I can’t wait for him to take the stage at Canopy on Friday. Like many modern music listeners, I only dabble in instrumental electronic music, and while XXYYXX may not be what many are expecting when they hear that he’s making EDM music, he will almost certainly be fun to watch and perhaps a good introductory crash course on some of the genre’s more underground aspects and how they function in a live environment.

* Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published back in September 2014 prior to Pygmalion Festival, though XXYYXX’s performance was postponed. We’re republishing it now prior to the show tonight at Canopy Club (the rescheduled date).

Related Articles