Miami producer Kaixen took his name from a Japanese philosophy centered on change for the better. On his debut album, Pecado, the musician also known as Julian Steven Munro experiments with a fusion of pop, electronic, R&B, hip-hop, and indie rock that underscores his growth as both an artist and a person.
Pecado, which means "sin" in Spanish and Portuguese, is a heavy name with a humorous story. Munro remembers going to a restaurant with a friend who asked him if wanted to order fish. "I was like, no,” Munro laughs. His friend ordered the pescado (fish). Munro did a Google search and came up with pecado, which he found more resonant anyway.
Munro is effortlessly funny one minute and meditative and wise the next. He remembers the journey that Pecado took from darkness to light in the year since he began working on the album. "Pecado right now is a completely different album than it was last year," he says.
"I was kind of depressed and in a dark place, so I named it about feeling like you’re just doing bad shit all the time," he says. "Everything you’re doing is not even necessarily wrong, but your energy just feels really sinful — like everything you touch is just dark.” Though the album maintains that darkness at its core, now it sounds "lighter" and danceable.
Kaixen's synthed-out, genre-traversing tracks are difficult to categorize. Magazines such as Fader and Clash have said his music sounds like the '80s. "That shit is fucking weird," Munro says, "'cause I don’t listen to any '80s music at all.” He attributes this phenomenon to his influences, who themselves are '80s-inspired, such as the 1975. Other influences include Frank Ocean, MGMT, Pink Floyd, Bonobo, and Kid Cudi (which tells you something about his genre diversity).
Before Kaixen, Munro was trained as a contemporary jazz guitarist and played in a rock band (his electric guitar makes an appearance on Pecado more than once). He cites his love of rock, indie, and "pop punk and shit" as deeply influential to his process of producing electronic music.
“I was just writing songs and rapping just for fun," he remembers. "I was going to different people to help me record and then I just got sick of it. I was like, I’m just gonna buy a laptop and do this myself."
Despite the album's introspective attitude, it's composed mainly of collaborations with experimental R&B and hip-hop artists such as Austin Paul, Twelve'Len, MRKI, the Loft, and DVWEZ. For Munro, collaboration allows him to continue learning with other artists and build on their strengths.
The last couple of tracks onPecado,
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however, are pure Kaixen. On the outro, Munro foregrounds acoustic instrumentation with sounds from nature against a backdrop of electronic production on "Through You" and "Constellation in the Sky/Complacent," allowing the listener to meditate in isolation on the emotional intensity of the album's earlier lyrics.
Before Pecado has even dropped, Munro is excited to be working on "four or five" new tracks for his next release.
“Be ready for new shit," he says, "because this one’s a'ight, but the next one’s gonna be really dope.”
Pecado will be officially released on Lush Records Friday, October 27.