’XO – Through The Night (feat. RobLaw)’

Soul, funk and R&B seem to revive themselves every few years whether it be in hip-hop, electronica or indie music. It is a welcome longevity that doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the breadth of those genres’ influence. A batch of electronic producers from collectives like SoulectionHW&W and FlowFi have been leading the latest revival melding elements of EDM and hip-hop with soul and ’90s R&B influences in what’s been referred to as Future Bounce and Emotional Dance Music.

Over the last 6 months or so, UK producer Sunil Heera, aka XO, has been building quite the audience on his SoundCloud with his unique R&Bounce style. Although it certainly fits with the current direction of electronic music, his sound has broader influences in house and garage reflecting a diverse musical background. His latest single “Through the Night,” off his upcoming debut EP of the same name, serves as a perfect introduction to XO’s music. The bouncy, soulful and sexy production on the cut match RobLaw‘s voice to perfection in part because XO also works closely with his vocalists in the songwriting process.

Get to know this up ‘n coming talent in our exclusive interview below. Through the Night drops on December 1st and can be pre-ordered via iTunes HERE.

TMN: What is your first musical memory? And when/how did you get into making music?

XO: Hmmm, probably dancing around my living room to the Spice Girls with my older sister, I must’ve been like 3/4 years old or something, don’t judge me.

I’ve always been a music fanatic for as long as I can remember, so I guess the initial interest in actually making my own stemmed from there. I started producing casually in my early high school years, purely out of curiosity I suppose. The idea of creating music from my own bedroom intrigued me, so I thought I’d give it a little go!  A couple of years later, once I’d reached a point of consistency with my production skills, I started out as XO and after a period of self discovery, here I am!

TMN: You seem to be pretty involved past just the production of your tracks. How did you go about constructing “Through the Night”? What’s your collaboration approach with vocalists more broadly? 

XO: Yeah totally, I’m a songwriter just as much as I am a producer nowadays. “Through The Night” started off as a simple chord sequence as most of my tracks do. During the developmental stage, I got a general feel for the vocal melody and began to pencil in the lyrical content. The track concept itself was perfect for RobLaw’s voice, so we just had to work together again!

My collaboration approach with most vocalists is similar to the one I’ve just described, I like to get an initial idea first of all, and then build and refine it with them. Although, there’s no set procedure to how these things work, every song you write or produce is different – going with the flow is the best thing to do.

TMN: Your music’s definitely got an R&Bounce feel to it and a distinct emotional palette. Both within and outside of music, where do you find your inspiration? 

XO: Within music, my current sound has definitely taken heavy influence from the abnormally large catalogue of music I’ve accumulated over the years! A lot of Neo-Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop, Garage and House music, as you can imagine. I think it’s down to the mental fusion of each style that inspires me to create what I do. Pretty deep stuff…

Outside of music, it’s possible to be influenced by pretty much anything – life experiences is a firm favourite with most songwriters. I often find stories and poetry quite inspiring – I love all that ambiguous stuff. I guess the boring English Literature classes in my last year of high school actually count for something now. Big up Mrs Alcock.

TMN: I noticed you’ve had some exchanges with MNEK on Twitter. How’d that relationship come about? Are you two working on any music? 

XO: Ha! Yeah, I’ve known MNEK for a number of years now, I got in touch after discovering him online when we were both about 14 years old or something crazy. We spoke about music, exchanged any projects we were working on and have remained friends ever since! It’s wicked to see what he’s gone on to achieve.

As for working with him, the second track on the EP’s called “Pulling Me Under” and features Leo Kalyan, he’s sick and also happens to be really good friends with MNEK. We all thought it’d be great to work on something collectively and so we wrote the lyrics together.  Super excited to get it online for everyone to hear!

’XO – Holdin’ On (feat. RobLaw)’

TMN: Tell us a bit about your upcoming project and how it came together. 

XO: Following the huge amount of support I received after streaming my tracks “What’s Luv?” & “Holdin’ On” via Soundcloud, I figured it’d be the perfect time to wrap up my first official release. I’ve spent quite a while developing my sound into something I’m confident to move forward with and I think this EP will be representative of that.

Writing the EP was a really natural process and it came together perfectly over the course of a few months, I think I’ve got 3 strong tracks which are all different from one another, yet simultaneously cohesive. Can’t wait to release it!

TMN: Any music videos planned for the upcoming project? 

XO: Not at the moment, but visual elements are something I’ve always wanted to incorporate in to my music as it definitely takes the project to the next level. I’m sure there’ll be a music video of some sort in the not-too-distant future.

TMN: Will you be touring outside of the UK for the project? What would be your ideal live set up?

XO: Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that I’ll be venturing outside of the UK for tour dates and stuff just yet, but it’ll definitely be sooner rather than later. Most of the shows I’ll be playing will be around the UK – dates will be posted as and when via the Facebook & Twitter pages!

I love playing DJ sets currently, but one day it’d be sick to play my music alongside a band, maybe even an orchestra of some sort, gotta love those strings man.

TMN: Describe your music in one word. 

XO: Melodic.

TMN: Favorite current song?

XO: I’m absolutely loving “Veritas” by Oceaan at the moment. Such a mature, forward thinking tune.

TMN: Guilty pleasure food? 

XO: Probably McDonalds, everyone slates it, but behind closed doors it’s a different story. I am one of those people.

TMN: Favorite football team?

XO: Manchester United of course.

TMN: Where is your happy place? 

XO: Anywhere, I mean, as long as I’m drunk.

TMN: What’re you going to be for Halloween? 

XO: I think I’m feeling the Joker from Batman this year. Can’t wait to do my “you wanna know how I got these scars?” impression. I think it’ll be a hit with the ladies…

Thanks to XO for taking the time to answer some questions. We can’t wait to hear what he’s got in store! 

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