To have the audacity at 23-years-old that XamVolo has would be a gift. Blending Neo-Soul with jazz like it was his fate, XamVolo is currently running full speed towards greater things. We talked about what brought him to where he is today, his latest single “Feels Good” and the importance of community. Read as he bares his debatable old soul with us.
Kendra: You’ve noted how your childhood shaped who you are today. Was there a specific event you can remember that changed your course to the one you’re on now?
XamVolo: There are several, but if I were to choose one pivotal moment I’d say sometime during Primary School. I probably wouldn’t have even considered viewing music as an interest without some of those teachers. I didn’t take any conscious steps to making my own music until I was about 13 (another pivotal moment). But if I were to trace it all the way back it was most likely the distinct value they placed on music in that school – not in a formal sense but more as a part of the culture. It was definitely a unique atmosphere.
Kendra: You’ve said you have an “Old Soul,” which is also a title of one of your songs. When you say you have an old soul though, is that only when it comes to music or is it your everyday life?
XamVolo: Though I do share a lot of viewpoints with older people, I don’t think I fully qualify as a true “old soul.” I find myself embracing novelty and innovation more often than not. Especially when it comes to the genres and ways of thinking I identify with the most. I still do love listening to those old soul and jazz records, though.
I believe the content quality and artistic direction are the most important things when it comes to music. Virtues which I guess at the moment seem easier to find when you’re digging through vinyl crates than when you’re skimming through the charts.
Every decade has its highlights. The best stuff seems to stick around the longest. So it’s only natural people see the music of generations-gone-by in a warmer light. I’ve heard albums in the last five years that have inspired me just as much as records from the late and great, however. Whatever resonates, resonates.
Kendra: Listening to “Feels Good” I was reminded of what Bruno Mars has going on right now. It’s got this throwback but still very fresh appeal. Was that the goal when you hit the studio?
XamVolo: I tend not to enter a studio session with the intention of sounding like someone else. My intention was to have a warped ’40s Jazz-era vibe sprinkled across the entire project. The idea of sampling an old jazz record and flipping it in a naïve, adventurous way was definitely in the cards. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something out. I like that new Bruno Mars album, though – great arrangements and basslines.
Kendra: Creating a community is very important to you. What steps have you taken to start this construction?
XamVolo: The most I can do at this stage – until my word is worth a little more to a stranger – is to be myself, unashamedly. I’m contributing to a grey-area which isn’t quite defined nor accepted just yet.
You’ll find me defending the complexity of the culture I align myself with to those who don’t currently understand its nuances. Then the next you’ll find me trying to convince those living through similar experiences that it’s okay to let the culture grow and evolve further than their comfort zones have allowed them so far.
There are a few who exist out there like me – a few who are looking for a dedicated ‘grey-space’ – a few who are comfortable enough to tread the line between the way the culture always has been and the way it could be. As well as being myself, I guess the next step is to go and find everyone else.
Kendra: With 2017 about to be over and done with, what is on the table for you come 2018?
XamVolo: I have a lot of music coming out in 2018. It’ll start with an EP comprised of a few songs from the larger body of work earlier in the year. Kind of like a side-story – followed shortly by the whole thing. I’m pretty proud of it and I hope it resonates with people.
Kendra: Lastly, here at ZO we’re all about the creatives in every aspect. With that, if you had to compare “Feels Good” with a work of art – which would it be?
XamVolo: Jean-Michel Basquiat – “The Philistines.” I feel like they both take from the same brand of distorted euphoria.