INTERVIEW: Catch up with bass producer XEN

We recently caught up with emerging Bass-producer Xen who hails from Australia and is heavily influenced by artists such as MefjusNOISIA, EmperorHerzeloyde and Deadmau5. Experimenting and exploring different sounds, the young producer is currently working on his studio album aiming to wow his fans and take the industry by storm. Xen released his debut album on the 9th of November 2017 titled “Anti Matter” through Gauntlet Records. Each song off the album is a uniquely styled production that borrows from an array of musical genres. Xen has garnered a great deal of support as a part of the artist collective Bangersound,  We asked the 18 year old producer a few questions and this is what he had to say:

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?
Hey there, I am great! Thanks for asking.
I’m working today, as per usual, as I have a full time job currently at NEC Australia. However when I get home, I’ll be hitting up the studio to get more work done on projects, just like every other day!

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound? 
Not going to lie, but it’s a little hard to describe my sound as of now since I am constantly working on it, along with producing under a range of different genres. However, my sound will commonly feature a lot of movement, depth and atmosphere. I like to make people move, whether it be done with a huge kickin’ bassline, or an extra-groovy and complex melody over a bouncy beat. I am quite versatile and experiment a lot, so there isn’t exactly a distinctive sound of mine quite yet.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most? 
Though I have had a huge amount of inspiration over my 5 years of production, I will highlight the most impacting artists for my recently-formed and destined style.

1. Mefjus
This dude is absolutely incredible. He is mind-blowing. He is so talented I cannot begin to fathom what he knows, or even thinks. Manifest LP, soon to be released on Noisia’s Label, Vision, has so far been a seriously-pushing collection. I love to listen to it, I love to learn from it and get motivated to work as hard as he has to make this album happen.

2. NOISIA
I feel like I don’t even need to describe why these guys are a huge influence, considering they are quite literally the kings of Neurofunk/Drum & Bass (in my opinion anyway).
These guys implement INSANE depth and movement to their tracks. They could come up with quite-literally any whacky idea for a drop that at first, you wouldn’t think would work, but would end up working, very very well. “Outer Edges” LP, was and will always be incredibly inspiring.

3. Emperor
This guy is a machine. Whatever his mind thinks of, you’re bound to hear sometime. Connor (Emperor), has been a massive inspiration for sound-design and working with deep, dark atmospheres that really set the vibe of the track. Not to mention, the energy and vast collection of hidden secrets in his tracks are incredibly intriguing. His album, Dispositions LP, features some of my favorite tracks by him.

4. Herzeloyde
Backing up a little bit from the Drum & Bass side of things, and focusing on the unique, awesome vibes that come from this amazing artist. Herzeloyde, coming from Melbourne, Australia (woohoo!), has really formed a nostalgic foundation for not only just me, but a good friend of mine also. Some tracks made by this guy will stick with me for years down the track. I can’t really any big albums by this guy right now, however every track uploaded by him is always super-enjoyable.

5. InsideInfo
Okay back to Drum & Bass. Paul (InsideInfo) is a really inspiring producer because he manages to create really hyper-energetic drops that have you jumping on the spot with almost every track. His sound design techniques and experimental activities that end up being used in his music always make me want to do the same, however in my own way. I must also say, I love how much he collaborates with other liked-artists of mine and documents his journey.

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?
Hybris is one of them. His music features very creative use of common sounds you’ll hear everyday, but it is done so well and seamlessly you could barely pick it out. His minimalist style is very complex and satisfying to hear.

Billain.
I can’t really explain this man to the everyday human, because he is seriously out-there. Going from being a Hip-Hop producer, to becoming literally the most insanely-hard Drum & Bass producer I’ve heard in my time is just really impressive. His library contains thousands of sounds designed by him with his machine-mind, and impressively over at least 30 of those sounds will be implemented into his drops, arranged in such a crazy energetic pattern (just an example). His smashing drums playing over it all really just tops it off.

I almost forgot, Ivy Lab. These guys have really pushed me to enjoy listening more Hip-Hop and chill stuff. The creativity expressed by these guys is phenomenal.

To be less specific with names, I listen to new stuff by new artists almost every day. I am always hearing new creations, and always gaining inspiration.

What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks in the studio? Or do you prefer to use software and plug ins? 
I typically use software for all my production. I would love to own some hardware, however due to costs and lack of space, I am unable to find a spot to permanently have all my equipment set up.
However, I use FL Studio 12 by Image-Line, and frequently use synthesizers such as Harmor, Sytrus, Serum by Xfer and Massive by Native Instruments. I also use a range of effect plugins such as CamelPhat, Ambience, etc.

Has your arsenal of equipment changed much since you first started?
Only in terms of software, but yes. Within the past 2 years I have become increasingly more familiar with sound design and plan to really expand on my current skill set.

Do you enjoy playing to an audience or working in the studio?
Hard question for me, since I’ve never had the opportunity to play in front of an audience.
I spent a lot of time producing as I have a lot to learn. I have a strong drive to become a seriously skilled producer, so I spend a lot of time developing myself and my sound. If I was going to play live, it would be dope! I would LOVE to have a crowd going wild with me, blasting only the best tunes these lucky individuals would inevitably discover.

If we gave you the budget to put a line-up together for a mini fest, who would you book and where would you play? 
This will heavily depend on how much the budget would be, and how mini the festival would be. However, I’d be seriously down to play alongside other Australian artists like SlumberjackShockoneOpiuo and even artists outside of Australia, such as Ivy Lab or Mefjus! I would most likely book the festival in Melbourne or Sydney.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be? 
I would highly likely be involved in the Video Game industry. I love them. I love the creativity, the fictional worlds and their inhabitants. HOWEVER, to be a soundtrack designer for video games would be an absolute dream come true. I am very involved in creative arts and technology all round.

Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
I am working increasingly hard on an album at the moment.
The album will be focusing heavily on my darker side of production. It will be showcasing a lot of my inspiration and newly developed skill over the past 2 years, since I have done loads of thinking, researching and designing.

The album will be prominently half-step/drum & bass. Though I can’t ensure the tracks will end up sticking to my original ideas, they will be worked on until I find them satisfactory. I will be pushing my limits this year. I cannot disclose any label names or sources to find more information about it, as this is still a concept in development. I am hoping you guys hear about the release when the time comes.

We will definitely be keeping up with this fresh producer. His drive and passion for music inspire us so much. We are sure that the new album is going to be one for the history books.

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