GUAP caught up with Xadi to get an idea of what goes on beneath the cryptic canvas of his pensive penmanship. Read the full interview below.
Xadi is now a powerhouse of creativity. And with the release of his latest self-produced EP, Floating In Lilac, he presents us with an example of some of his most potent work; packed with elegant, shapeshifting songs. Whether it’s a mundane musing over the smallest of details, or a healing wound waiting to be scratched at–the London-based artist smartly builds his arrangements around this refined blueprint.
The lead single on the EP, “Evidence”, outlines this blueprint through an orchestration of hypnotic vocals and experimental beats. This record is no less than a statement as Xadi claims his place on the podium “It’s the scene and it’s gonna be a funny one / shook when you see me, best not leave without your Huggies on”, he spits. And it’s this conviction in his lyricism and vocals that can be so enticing about his music; a humbled arrogance you might call it–but regardless of whatever it is, it works.
The slow-building “Off The Gas” revels in the omniscient point of Xadi’s thoughts. The chorus sees him showing off his cadence where we see him jump several octaves, accelerating from 0 to 60 in a beat. “Timing” featuring Nina Cobham carries us over the halfway point on the EP as Xadi reimagines the banal experiences of his day-to-day into a lush utopia for his thoughts, floating over strung out synths.
“I aim to take my career to the highest of heights possible and will not feel as if I should hold back to remain ‘underground’, I will not compromise my artistic integrity” He tells GUAP. And it’s clear in every bit of work that he doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone but himself. A true artistic mind with only bigger and brighter things in his sights. Mystery and musings aside, Xadi admits his dream collaboration one day would be with Drake “I’d actually love to make one that was more upbeat and dance-inducing if I was to work with him!”
GUAP: Do you think your experiences growing up in West London have influenced the way you carry yourself in your music and career?
XADI: Without a doubt, Hounslow especially is a very diverse place, there are so many different food and musical cultures here that have impacted everything from the way I dress to the music I listen to. It’s the only place I’ve ever called home and has shaped me in every way.
Are there any particular stories behind the making of ‘Decorative Scars’ that you feel would help deepen listeners’ insight into the song?
I wrote the song a year after my grandfather passed away, and mortality was kind of on my mind when I was writing the track, the topic of the song then drifted into romantic relationships and friendships that I have lost in the past, largely from my own emotional vacancy. At points in the song I was almost empathising about the other person in relationships and friendships that I had let fade, or self-sabotaged, and putting myself into how I felt that the other person may have felt. I feel like the video and lyrical content are open for interpretation, I know that different listeners have taken different things away from it which I like.
One of the most wrenching vocal performances from 2021 is arguably “Timing”, alongside Nina Cobham, how do you choose which artists you end up working with?
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. All of the work I’ve done with other artists has been based on relationships with that person. Nina and I were first in touch with each other over instagram and we just got on really well. We made mañana as our first song together and just developed a really strong friendship over that period of time. The same goes for almost everyone I have worked with on music, we were often friends before ever making music together and because of the fact we know each other’s vibes, lets us know how the collaboration would go before ever recording.
It can feel like listeners are programmed to want to hear someone ruin themselves in a song, to hear artists pick at deep emotional scars… Do you find this a challenge in your writing?
I don’t actually, I write how I feel and happen to have had quite a lot of really intense and difficult events take place in my life, so when I write about my emotions, it’s because I am really feeling like that and I’ve really been through something difficult. I also love turning up and being out with friends and sometimes that is the direction that my music takes, I am writing songs like that because at that moment, that is how I’m feeling.
This is perhaps a complex debate but as far as how people have reacted to your music in the past, do you ever get tired of the fetishisation of authenticity and being ‘underground’?
I don’t have a huge issue with that either, someone who really loves me for my Art, should love it irrespective of whether it has a thousand streams or a million. I aim to take my career to the highest of heights possible and will not feel as if I should hold back to remain ‘underground’, I will not compromise my artistic integrity, or put out a song that I flat out do not like and I think that the big supporters of my music will be happy so long as I keep it authentic. I also always enjoy talking to the people who message me and let me know that they are fans of my music, and try remember everyone who has done so. It is so important to me that as this grows I give back to those people and try and keep it as Xadi as possible and hope that they rock with it.
Chicken or the egg question (but make it music-related): What came first? Production or songwriting?
Production, literal production of sounds and banging things together to make a rhythm and vibing out to it is one of the most human things there is. No matter where you go in the world there is some musical element to the culture, and I think producing those sounds, hitting different things in different ways to make different noises is the earliest form of sound design. I think we discovered sounds and melodies being created while we invented songwriting.
Having come up through one of the most intense shifts in how we receive music, how do you feel about the jackpot nature of streaming success at this point?
A mixed bag really, I’m so grateful that so many people have been able to discover my music, that has always been the most important thing to me, being heard. My main focus has always been growth and my approach to everything in life has been ‘there’s a problem there, how do I get around it’, that’s the outlook I’ve taken towards the current music climate. I reinvest everything I make into making better videos, and cooler concepts but at the same, some of the coolest bits I’ve made have been with no budget and just trying to work things out.
If you could work with any artist dead or alive, who would it be? And what would that record sound like?
I considered giving some niche answer to sound cool hahaha, there have been so many amazing lesser-known artists that have hugely impacted my sound but if Im totally honest. Drizzyyyy Drake would be my dream person to work on a track with, I’d actually love to make one that was more upbeat and dance-inducing if I were ever to do one with him!