XO The Ethereal Experience Interview

Young UK producer XO (Sunil Heera) has found himself in the good graces of Pitchfork, Noisey, Mixmag and people like Diplo, Annie Mac and Huw Stephens – and for good reason.  Lauded as “the future of UK dance” by The Telegraph, XO gained traction when his music landed him on stage at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, after which he released his Through The Night EP last year (on which he collaborated with RobLaw and Leo Kalyan).

Nineteen-years-old and already taking the UK by storm, XO will now reveal his vocal talents on the upcoming four-track release The Ethereal Experience, and shares a little a bit about the project and himself, in the interview below.  You can stream the first single “Flames of Phoenix” here and pre-order The Ethereal Experience on iTunes before it comes out July 20 on He Loves You Not Recordings.

Tell us about The Ethereal Experience and who/what inspired the songwriting on it.

Ok, so…The Ethereal Experience is my 2nd official outing on He Loves You Not Recordings, following the release of my Through The Night EP at the end of last year. I honestly think T.E.E. is the strongest body of work I’ve ever wrote, and I’d like to think my sound is consistent throughout. Really excited for everyone to hear it in full.

As for inspiration, it wasn’t necessarily musicians that influenced me, a lot of the tracks on the release are based on things like sci-fi movies and stories, as well as dreams, space and time travel – hence the word “ethereal.”

Did you always want to be a singer, as well as a producer? What is your history as a vocalist, if any?

Never even thought about singing, ever. I didn’t even know I could until I started putting this release together in all honesty. Having said that, I still wouldn’t label myself as a vocalist, I merely see my voice as another instrument. It was just something I did in order to express my passion for song writing, and on this occasion, it happened to be through my own vocals. But of course, people like to categorise things these days, and I get that.

How do you feel about someone on Twitter calling you the “Indian Michael Jackson”? And can you moonwalk?

Haha, the guy who put this out there is actually a good friend of mine, salute, so I’m not quite sure if he was trolling or not. Either way, I feel truly honoured that someone would even associate me with the legend that is MJ, regardless of how inaccurate that bold statement may be.

How would you describe your evolution as an artist; what have you learned about yourself along the way?

It’s definitely been a natural process, that’s for sure. When I first started out, music wasn’t even a career prospect for me, it was just something I enjoyed doing in my spare time. A lot of the early stuff was just simply random beats.

I’ve learnt a lot though, without a doubt, I’m now very comfortable in my own musical skin and confident in my ability to write songs, produce and just do something that’s a little bit different. I’m now making music that I actually want to make and I hope that becomes clear once the new material is out there, I’m blessed to be doing this as a job.

Dream collaborations?

Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Jhene Aiko, Jai Paul, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Majid Jordan, Lykke Li, J. Dilla, The Chemical Brothers, Chase & Status…that enough? I could go on for days!

What person, living or dead, would you most want to have dinner with – and what would you have for dinner?

The man that is Kanye West, of course. I can’t even imagine what our conversation would involve, but I’m sure it’d be very interesting with him around. As for dinner, no doubt something outrageous if it was down to him, but I like chicken so I guess it’d have to be that. Unless he disagreed, which wouldn’t be too much of a surprise…

XO The Ethereal Experience Interview Kanye West

What is the one piece of equipment that you can’t live without?

Probably my computer – as obvious as it sounds. But you know, I wouldn’t even be able to make anything if I didn’t have one, so I guess you could say it’s pretty crucial!

Artists to watch right now:

Mura Masa, Jones, Nao, Shy Luv, Klyne, Shay Lia & James Chatburn.

Other than your new EP, do you have any upcoming releases or projects to look out for in 2015?

I’ve just been writing new material as usual and working with a bunch of cool writers & vocalists. At the moment I’m just taking every day as it comes, anything that does come to fruition will be announced as and when via my social media pages. So keep an eye out!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Good question. I have no bloody idea. As long as I’m still making a career out of producing music then that’s cool with me. But obviously I’ll be doing it on my multi-million pound yacht in 10 years time…just kidding.


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