Marcel Everett, AKA XXYYXX, is just like any other teenager on the planet. He hated high school. He's mourning some broken young love. Oh, and he's toured Europe a few times. No big deal.
Everett stumbled onto the path of success with a self-titled release that he produced almost as an afterthought. That album has earned the praise of his idols and found him sharing the stage with his heroes.
The last time he visited Miami, Everett opened for Gold Panda, and that was supersurreal. Now he's coming back to headline his own show.
But, like, y'know, he's just a kid. It's no big deal or whatever.
Crossfade: You were supposed to play Bardot in March, but you had to cancel because you were sick. People were wondering how you could cancel during WMC.
XXYYXX: I was, like, sick. I can play sick, but I was on another-level sick.
What's your live show like?
It's not that impressive. I do the same thing everyone does. I have a pretty amateur setup. I use my laptop and an APC40. I'm pretty sure there are billions of producers who do the same thing. But yeah, I'm not really a performer. I'm more of a music maker.
Well, you're 17.
Are you still in school?
I graduated early. There was this college I went to by my house that had a high-school program where you could graduate at your own pace. So I left high school because it was terrible and finished there.
I take it you weren't ever the cool kid in school?
No. Haha. Definitely not.
Orlando is a strange place. I grew up in South Florida, and I always thought of Orlando as this awful, corporate theme-park mess, but I've gotten to know some people there and there are some hidden gems. What has it been like for you?
I'm just now discovering the hidden gems. So growing up, I was pretty not down to stay here for that long, but it's not really in my control. Orlando is not as bad as I used to think it was. I just wish there was more going on. There's still some artists who are very quiet and underground, but when you find those musicians and visual artists, they're really cool.
Who are some of them?
I can't really name that many. But Guillermo Casanova, he's my visual guy, he's awesome. He's a great visual artist and he does live VJing stuff that's really cool. Every couple of days, I find new producers on soundcloud from Florida. It's impressive. I had no idea that many people made music here. C.Z. is cool. JWLS, he's from Miami. Fortune Howl, stuff from the same label I'm on. Good friends of mine.
When did you first get into producing your own music?
I started trying to make electronic stuff when I was 14, so you could guess what that sounded like. It's slowly progressing. I'm getting better. I'm still in the learning process. I didn't really take it that seriously until I turned 17, which was not that long ago. I don't know which one to answer. It's either 14 or technically 17, because I'm trying to learn a lot more now and expand.
What are you working on right now?
Some really weird music. A full-length. It's going to get pressed and stuff. Definitely more out of the box.
What's inspiring you?
A lot of free form jazz. I wouldn't really say it's going to be a jazz album or anything, but it is going to be a lot more free and not so structured or robotic as the self-titled. It's not like "oh, he's going to loop this part again."
Well, you're learning more about your craft.
That and also, now I want to make songs. Before I was just bored and making beats, then I'd just make them long. I want to make full songs now that have themes.
The first time I was exposed to your music, one of my friends showed me the video for "About You" which is crazy. What was the inspiration behind that song for you, and did you have any hand in the visuals?
I actually had nothing to do with the video. Jeff Vash sent me a tweet like "hey, I made a video. Check it out." I did and I was like "wow, how much did it cost to make this?" "Nothing, I have this camera, it's shot in my apartment and these are people I live with in the neighborhood." So, he's just really good at editing and filming stuff like that. I told him to make it official after that.
This is the disappointing part: the song itself is actually my least favorite song on that whole album, because I think it was the easiest to make, too. It's very repetitious and there's not much to it, strictly for the reason I was going to work with a vocalist, and I'm not going to name drop, but she just dipped out and I needed one more song to make the length of the album an LP. I was eager to have a full-length or something. I just put that out there as the first track just to get it over with, and it ended up being my most popular song, which is weird.
One of the most striking things about your music is the soulful quality of it. I don't know if you feel that way yourself, but how do you see it? Where is this coming from in you?
I have a theory. I always skipped school and made music because, as any normal teenager, I hated high school, and I wanted to do anything else. I didn't like anyone, no one liked me that much, and I guess that was the attitude of it: You just don't like anything. So I wouldn't say soulful, it's more like upsetting music. I needed to do something so I wasn't sad all the time, so I just made music, and I guess it came out kind of sad. And I had a lot of crushes. I guess that mixed together with listening to a lot of R&B creates that.
Whatever happened with these crushes now that you're touring Europe and semi-successful, accidental badass?
The majority of the album, the self-titled, was like, I dedicated it to this girl I was dating at the time for about a year and half. And, if you do anything, like anything ever, don't do that, ever. I was dating possibly the worst person in the world, and now it's over. That's it.
Is this album going to be your more mature, free at last, experimental release?
Yeah. I feel like it's more mature because I'm working at it. Before, it was just "oh that sounds cool, let me add it again." I didn't really put much thought into it, I just went. Now, I'm just letting it flow and making the song as it naturally comes, but I'm also working on things like production and subtle things you might not even hear in the background. I want each song to be a being or something. I think that concept is really cool. so I guess it is more mature in a sense that I'm actually working at it, and it's a real, sincere thing, too.
Any release date planned?
I put out a single recently called "Pay Attention." It's getting pretty good reactions. I was expecting a whole bunch of people to be like "this sucks! What happened?" And only a few people have been like "What happened." I should be known by now for every release sounding different, but people just expect the same popular song, like "About You," over and over again. I kinda hate that. Anyway, it's on the Soundcloud, and it's a good representation of where I'm going, but it's not a good representation how hard or how detailed it is. It's kind of a repetitious, but you can still tell it's evolved. It's not the best song, but it's there.
What's some stuff you would like people to hear?
I don't know. If you're a producer or a music maker, any sort of artist, and you have your thing going on, and you start getting recognized, don't let any of that effect what you do. It's easy to want to impress people at some point, but that's the dumbest thing you could do - ever. Like, in the world. Then you become not you anymore, and that's what makes you good: yourself, your originality. Everyone's different, and as cheesy as that is, I think that's completely true.
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It's good you've learned that so early on.
Yeah, I think that's the turning point. I had that epiphany and I was like, "Alright, now I know what I'm going to do for the next album - whatever I want." That's it.
Relief in Abstract Showcase with XXYYXX, Marble and Fortune Howl, with DJ set by Grant and XXYYXX. Thursday, June 27, at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 21 and up. The party starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $16 plus fees at showclix.com. Call 305-576-5570 or visit bardotmiami.com.