Reporting to you live from Dimension X, it’s The Writer and Black Acre signee Scott Xylo!
Hailing from Leicester, Scott Xylo has produced beats that are enjoyed by people all over the world. He is known for his unique contribution to the sound of psychedelic soul and is steadily becoming a young front-runner in the genre himself. Determined to create his own lane, Scott fuses past and present sounds creating otherworldly music that lands us somewhere in the distant future. His discography includes collaborations with some of hip-hop and soul’s most respected contenders. On many accounts, he has been commended by other individuals who also use beat making as a form of artistic expression. I first caught up with him at Leicester record store Waxworks Vinyl. Myself and Joe (behind the lens) then headed with Scott to his home for a more in-depth interview and a behind the scenes look at his musical fortress. Here’s how it went down…
As I entered Scott’s room, I began to notice all the elements of his sonically adventurous mind. From the Madvillain vinyl positioned in its special place on the wall, to the Pink Floyd poster and numerous marvel comic strips – it was all there for him to draw inspiration from. His working space had morphed into a physical embodiment of his passions, deepest desires and biggest musical influences.
Location: Dimension X
Scott began playing some authentic tracks from his upcoming album (which I can’t say too much about…but I will say that you are in for a treat!). As Joe positioned the camera in our direction, we settled down and began our conversation.
To no surprise, I began by expressing my love for Fireflies Coloured In Violet again which features Pro Era’s T’Nah Apex. When I revealed to Scott that I play the song at least once a week, his response was “Wow. Flipping hell! That’s weird. That is very weird”. As we both laughed, in that moment I recall imagining what it must feel like for Scott to have so many people adore his music and see his potential. So, just how did this track come together?
“To be honest, I don’t even know. I was just making drums one night. I played some keys to the drums. Woke up and there was a baseline. So, yeah I dunno it was just crazy! It is just one of those tracks…some next astro-projection-type-spirit was making this track. I have no clue how I made this. It was a trip…” he explains.
The conversation then took on the theme of motivation. I questioned Scott about what draws him to music and what exactly keeps the excitement there. His response was simple, “Discovery” he answers. “I guess it’s just the discovery of finding new sounds really. I like listening to tracks thinking…I like this track, but I wonder what it would sound like if I had made it” he adds.
Luckily, Scott didn’t face too many difficulties when it came to sharing his creative ambitions with his family, who were in fact very receptive towards him. “My mum is really creative. She used to be in textiles and now she makes jewellery. My mum was like you can do whatever you want, just make sure that you’re making money” he shares. For some creativity is cultivated. Yet, it seems as though Scott was always destined to follow this particular career path. “When I dropped out of college, everyone was really supportive. They kinda knew that this music thing was all I wanted to do. People who met me just knew that I wanted to be a musician” he tells me.
Then, laying back in his chair he begins comparing music to therapy. “Music is one of those things you can go to when you’ve had a bad day or have some stuff on your mind. You just let it all go with some music” he describes. Going a little deeper, I got Scott to open up about the feeling of knowing that people use his music to alleviate stress or simply feel happier about life. His face lifted as he spoke:
“It’s good. To be honest, I kinda put my own personality in my music as much as I can. I’m a chilled happy dude. So, I like my music to be chill and happy. I really believe that your sound should be you. You should put yourself in the music and you should give people a part of you. It’s about the vibrations really”.
Bringing elements of his identity to his music has helped Scott to master the art of making emotional connections through music that transcends generations. His most recent single Ariya reaches that balance where it can be enjoyed by your mum, your grandmother, your uncle and even your little sister. Making music that can be appreciated by different generations is no easy task, yet Scott, so set in his own lane makes it look as such. His process starts with his feelings, which he expresses through sound waves. Some may be more interested in the appeal of the beat. While others, such as myself, are taken on a rollercoaster of deep emotions, unable to explain why the music hit us the way it did. With that being said, there is still no right or wrong way to receive it. That’s the beauty of it – subjectivity.
The value of friendships
We started to see a resurgence of soul across the UK from 2017, as people began to be more receptive to underground acts that weren’t exclusive to London. Scott shared which musicians have caught his eye. “My group Rhythm and Reason are doing some incredible stuff” he states. “Sienna and Dani are in a group called Ephemeral and they make amazing music, really trippy vibes. They’re like the top dog of the group” he says laughing. His facial expression pretty much gave away how taken he is with their music.
“Then you’ve got Dips, he’s amazing and GeeFree – he’s just a force. Richie is just another one of those guys that are just too creative! R-kay, dude is like a mini Glasper on the keys, he’s like a little herbie. Oddboy Ten, he’s another one of those creative dudes that are just in their own world” he tells me. The Mellowdic Show host and musician Lex Amor continues to play a valuable role in Scott’s life “she’s incredible” he says going on to praise her musical abilities. Watford-born singer/songwriter Connie Constance, who has been on a lot of people’s radar for quite some time, came up in the conversation too. Scott’s addicted to Connie’s single Let Go “I would like to collaborate with Connie, she’s incredible” he says, enthusiastically.
Scott then drew my attention to another Black Acre signee, grime rapper Rocks F O E who he described as “amazing”.
“There’s just too much! There are too many people. Everyone is doing something. They are being themselves, instead of being something artificial. It’s nice how people are more inclined to be themselves now.”
What I gathered from this conversation with Scott, is that he is someone who values keeping those who knew him from the start around as he grows. He is strengthened by those close friends, who play a fundamental part in helping him to become the best version of himself. Aside from music, I realised that on a mental and emotional level Scott is someone who is continually inspired by the creative ambition and mindset of his closest friends.
Together we shared our admiration for the millions of people who have confidently turned their hobby into something they can profit from. From small businesses, individual brands, entrepreneurs, entertainers, public speakers, youth activists and many more.
Scott begins to reminisce about his “crazy Kanye Phase”, when youthful exuberance allowed him to make “four beats a day”. Now, he harnesses his energy into making beats “once a week”. He has become a more focused, strategic and disciplined producer.
Scott goes on to say “I’ve grown more as a producer. I’ve grown as a person who loves sounds. It was like a puzzle before, now it’s like a painting. I have this scene in my head with multiple characters. I have the atmosphere, the style, everything. The question is, now how do I put this into sound? I like to approach things from a film perspective. It just makes it more fun really. Instead of just churning out beats, I’m making a mini movie for myself”. He implements the same methodical process that one uses in film production when making music.
“It was the year 2012, I was 18. That was around the time I made my first beat” Scott tells me. He pointed to a reference on his wall that dates back to 2011 – the year he got into music. “I wanted to do something creative” Scott explains. Though, it wasn’t merely a ‘fitting in the crowd phase’ for this Leicester-based producer who has creativity flowing through his veins. Admiring the skill set of Kanye West, Scott set out on a path to expand upon the work of several musical pioneers. “Listening to Kanye and watching Kanye sample made me think…yo, I grew up with these old records. I can do this too. Now, I just haven’t stopped” he said zealously.
Scott’s inspirations whilst growing up
He looks up to “Jimi Hendrix, Madlib, George Clinton, David Bowie, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd” to name a few. He once again referred back to how the people he has met have altered his influences along the way. “I go through this ladder of finding a sound, exploring it and then finding a sound through that sound and exploring it again. The process is endless. I have so many influences, which transfer into different mediums” he claimed as the conversation turned to his love for comics and film production. “I’m really inspired by film directors” he went onto say. “I see music sonically, as well as visually. Certain sounds can trigger certain memories. Through this philosophy I study film direction, I study people like Tarantino, David Lynch and Ridley Scott. People who have that heavy stylised presence. These are the people who influence me to make it more than just music” he added, passionately.
“It’s about making new boxes or stepping out of the box.”
Scott is steadily expanding himself, by working on a book whilst pursuing music. If there’s one thing you cannot deny, it’s the video game and anime-style influence over Scott’s music (even down to the artwork on single covers). Where did it all start? Why is it so apparent? What does it represent? “It’s just me. I grew up on anime; my dad was a HUGE anime fan. I grew up seeing crazy stuff like Ninja Scroll and Ghost in the Shell” he explains. What began as a 10-year-old childhood interest grew into something much bigger, something that would later become the key to unlocking his individuality as a producer. He then ends with “I’m a retro kind of guy. I just love retro stuff, like Game Boy’s and NES. There was a period when I was just addicted to buying them. I had a stack of consoles and SNES”. On a deeper level we connected, as we both could acknowledge that in some point in our life we had been referred to as an ‘old soul’.
An effective way to maintain an internet presence through social media and streaming sites
What ensued were a number of gems for other aspiring producers concerning the best streaming sites and how to maintain an internet presence:
“To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. The streaming sites are just the tool to help you get along the way. For instance, you wouldn’t say the hammer built the chair. It’s a tool used to get to the end product. So, the streaming site doesn’t matter it’s how you put yourself across on the platform. Be as creative, as you possibly can! I mean, I came up through SoundCloud and Spotify. For me, the biggest platform that helped me the most was Twitter. Through Twitter, I merged them all together. I look at how the legends became the legends before the internet, because the internet is still relatively new. I look at it like, this person did this and that person did that. So, what if I took a bit of what they did and use the internet to try and tie that all up. Create something crazy, you know. So, the platform doesn’t matter it’s just how you use it. Have fun with it. Be creative with it” he says.
Scott thinks like a visionary. His mind is a vault with limitless ideas. He’s a go-getter, who loves to experiment. Having mastered the art of expanding upon the work of his musical predecessors, he continues to surpass what we assumed he was capable of.
For those who don’t know Scott has collaborated with a vast number of musicians, including the likes of OSHUN and Clear Soul Forces. The list is endless and it keeps on growing, as Scott strategically uses social media to successfully make these connections across the globe.
So, just how did their worlds collide?
“Ah man, these are stories” he says. Looking overwhelmed, as if he’s still soaking in the fact that he’s managed to make these connections. “Noveliss, Clear Soul Forces and OSHUN they all came from a guy called Terrence (T dot Infinite). He’s a guy from L.A. We used to talk a lot on Twitter; he had a label at the time called Divine Atoms. He wanted to create a collective and I was a part of that” he reveals.
“This dude…he’s like a Forrest Gump! You could talk to him for hours and not know his name after an hour of talking to him. He’s such a cool guy to talk to” he continues. When it came to Afrocentric soul duo OSHUN, the collaboration for the song YE is one that occurred very unexpectedly.
“Terrence was talking to the label that OSHUN were on and this was like back in 2013. Through the label that he linked up with I met OSHUN, T’Nah Apex and this guy called Khalil. I also met a couple of other dudes on this Brooklyn, New York label. I’ve always wanted to collab with OSHUN. I just hit them with one track. It’s mad, because I do not know how I made the track. The track was a little ahead of my time I can’t lie, because at the time I couldn’t make baselines. I was terrible at baselines. I pretty much sent them the track unfinished and they just made it like, WOAH” he clarifies.
When the conversation got to working with Clear Soul Forces Noveliss on his Toonami Tsumanis EP, it was pretty much the same startling scenario. Scott claims Terrence sent the respected hip-hop group a couple of beats and Noveliss was like “yo, your stuff sounds like Adult Swim, Flying Lotus and all this other crazy stuff”. He also reveals that “every three weeks” Noveliss was like “send me beats”. Scott would send some stuff through and much to his surprise they eventually featured on Noveliss’ EP. Scott’s video game-sounding production can also be seen on Clear Soul Forces Smash Bros off their EP Cheat Codes.
I’m pretty much in the same boat as Noveliss here. Listening to Scott’s discography is like hearing a blend of Thundercat, Fly Lo and Dilla. It’s crazy how he has managed to capture these different textures.
“It’s just a product of the time! Around that time I was in love with this style. There was no-one doing that kind of style. I always wanted to be a part of the L.A. scene, which was a phase. Then I was like I’m not from L.A., so I may as well make my own scene” Scott did exactly as he said.
Potential future collaborations
His response to the question of potential future collaborations was as follows:
“Me and R&R are doing stuff. Us as a collective, we want to try and build this project. I really want to work with Lex Amor. I’m just going to say this…when Danny Brown and I make a project, it will be a Madvilliany! This dude…yeah, he’s incredible. I also would love to work with this band from Australia called King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. They would be awesome to work with. The list goes on…”
As the conversation came to a close, I decided to drop some quick fire questions for Scott to answer.
Aside from music, what do you do in your spare time?
I read books and study films. I’m pretty curious. Any film I particularly like, I just want to study it! How did it get made? Why did it get made? Who made it? This is what I look at. So, in my spare time I just study the things I love really.
What books are you hooked on now?
To be honest, I’m not really reading anything now. I’m mostly studying documentaries and factual videos. I was reading this manga called Bezerk before. I love the art style in that manga. I was studying the shading, backgrounds and the scenery. I was also reading a lot of Scott Pilgrim too.
How do you stay grounded amidst all the success?
I just am myself. If I made a million tomorrow, I would still be watching flipping Adventure Time in my underwear. It’s just me. As long as the people around me are around me, they love me and my family’s still here then I’m content. The success is still crazy! I’m still deeping everything. I’ve come from people saying my stuff is too weird to people saying I want that weird stuff. It’s been a pretty crazy journey. I’m also the kind of person that likes to share their success. I would rather help you than help myself. I would rather you be in a higher position than me. Just so I can see you doing well. I’m excited to see where this rabbit hole goes…