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INTERVIEW: MkX

1. How would you classify your music? 

I make pop music, but when it comes to writing and production I draw from a lot of different genres.  There’s some hip-hop, electronic, and R&B influence.  I’m very inspired by early 2000s super-pop, but I still keep a futuristic cutting-edge element to my writing and production.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences? 

Max Martin is a huge influence for me.  I’ve studied the nuances of his writing and production since I was little.  I love how he is always one step ahead of the world when it comes to writing and production, but I also have an equal appreciation for his throwbacks of course.

Lady GaGa has had an enormous impact on my artistry, from a music and non-music standpoint.  I’m definitely a superfan when it comes to her music, but The Fame era taught me so much about how to unapologetically express your artistry.  Even before she blew up, there wasn’t an “on-stage” and “off-stage” Lady GaGa, she would walk down the street looking like a superstar before anyone knew her name.  I used to be very self-conscious about expressing myself through my music, fashion, and imagery.  After re-falling in love with “The Fame” I learned how to say “fuck it” and go out wearing whatever I wanted, and writing whatever I wanted in my lyrics without being afraid of how other people would perceive it.

Cashmere Cat’s sound design is insane.  His music definitely opened my brain to look at sound design in a completely different way.  He creates incredible sounds out of things I’ve never thought of being musical.  The way he samples vocals and different foley sounds definitely inspires how I produce.

The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams + Chad Hugo) have such a distinct sound.  It blends raw elements and blunt synths in a simplistic yet thoroughly detailed way.  When I first started learning how to use Logic I loved to sit down at my computer and try to make Neptunes style beats.  Even today their style still has a big influence on me when I produce my songs.

Bebe Rexha is such an incredible writer.  I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and got to watch the world fall in love with her.  She’s not afraid to explore different genres and sides of herself.  She’s explored hip-hop, rock, pop, country, you name it, yet her songs are always distinctly Bebe.  Her melodies are very unique yet incredibly catchy, which is a really difficult combination to execute.

3. What do you want fans to take from your music? 

I want people to listen to my music and be able to relate to it on a personal level.  When I write lyrics I try to be detailed and witty, but also somewhat vague and mysterious.  I want people to hear a lyric and say “wow that’s totally what I’m going through right now.”  Relating to music has helped me so much growing up, and I want to be the person that makes that music for people to connect with.  Not just lyrically.  Certain combinations of chords/cadences under the construction of a melody can really be an emotionally powerful experience.  Connecting with the actual music itself is just as powerful as connecting with the lyrics.

4. How’s the music scene in your locale? 

I go to Berklee College of Music in Boston, so I’m constantly surrounded with artists of all different styles.  What’s really cool is that it’s not just a music scene, it’s a community.  Everyone is friends with each other and is super supportive of one another.  There’s not much jealousy or hatred at all, everyone does their own thing and we all teach each other.  It’s such an amazing environment to be a part of.

5. What do you feel is the hardest part about being an artist?

It was really hard at first to fully surrender myself to my art.  I cared a lot about how people perceived me.  I would literally stare at a blank page for hours going through lyric after lyric, telling myself “people won’t like that” or “people will judge you if you say that.”  I used to make myself wear a plain t-shirt and khaki shorts because I was afraid to be different.  It took a lot of time and strength to own who I was as a person and an artist.  About 3 years ago I created this persona of who I wanted to be.  A person that wore the coolest clothes, made the dopest music, and had a totally unapologetic attitude.  I pushed myself and slowly became that person.  As of now I’ve completely transformed.  I can barely remember what it was like to be the old me. 

6. What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

Definitely the first leg of Lady GaGa’s “The Monster Ball” in 2009.  One of the things I love about Lady GaGa’s shows is that it’s not just about the music.  That being said, it’s not artificially over-the-top with unrelated shenanigans.  The combination of her theatrics and music is really a living art-piece.  Very polished, futuristic, and high-fashion yet energetic and fun.  At the same time, she really showcased her musicianship and talent.

The whole performance aspect is what really brings my music to life.  Of course I love writing/producing, but playing live is a whole different ballgame.  When I create music I have 360 concept of what the song should look like, what energy it should give off to the audience, and how it should make people feel.  I do all of the live arranging for the music and create all of the visuals for my show.  My choreographer Chanel Thompson has really helped me bring my vision to life as well.  When I perform live, I feel like everything just comes together.  And of course, watching how my show impacts people is such an incredible experience.  It’s a constant reminder of why I do what I do.

7. Is there a song you released that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

I honestly don’t think I can choose one, it’s like choosing a favorite child!  All of the songs I’ve written, released or unreleased, represent a certain time and experience in my life.  I have synesthesia, so listening to my songs triggers my senses (especially smell) and immediately brings me back to the period or experience I had when I was working on the song.  So they’re not just songs to me, they’re memories.

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the last year? 

I’ve definitely honed down on my brand and skillset.  I’m constantly working to get better at my craft.  I didn’t really grow up as a dancer at all, so my choreographer has really helped me develop my dance skills.  I’ve also been singing my entire set on the treadmill, which helps my stamina of singing and dancing.  Singing live and putting on a high-energy show are equally important to me, so staying in top shape definitely plays a big role in my life.

9. If you could co-write a song with any band or artist who would it be?  

I’d love to co-write a song with Kehlani.  She’s a huge inspiration to me as well.  You can tell how much thought she puts into all aspects of her songs.  Her melodies, her flow, her lyrics, it’s all so detailed.  She expresses her attitude and who she is as a person through her music, which is also something I really admire about her.

10. What’s next for you?

I just dropped a new single and music video called “One Sided Love.”  I’ve been saving this song for a while and constantly changing it until I felt it was ready for the world.  I wanted the video to be less about the song itself and more of an introduction to who I am as an artist.  I came up with all of the visual concepts for the video, so it was really fun to bring them all to life.  I’ve also been working on finalizing my live show, so I’m gonna go back on the road soon which is a blast.  You can check in on what I’m doing online, I’m a very visual person so I use Instagram the most (@mkxmusic).

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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