Concert Review by Lotanna Obodozie
When I arrived at U Street Music Hall on a cold, blustery, Sunday night, I was not exactly sure what to expect. I certainly was not expecting there to be a crowd already lining up outside of the small basement venue, as I had arrived a solid hour before doors were to open. As I waited outside, the excitement of the concert goers was tangible. People were visibly excited to see 17 year old Marcel Everett, also known as XXYYXX, perform a sold-out show.
Anyone who has been to U Street Music Hall can attest to the fact that the venue has one of the best sound systems in the entire nation. The body-shaking bass vibrations are unparalleled, so when XXYYXX began his synth-heavy set, it became obvious that this would be a sonically fantastic show.
XXYYXX began his set with a few songs and remixes of his own that he tweaked with as the show progressed. From the first note played, the crowd was already going wild. Songs like “Breeze” and his remix of “Let Me Love You” by Tinashe were definite crowd-pleasers, but one song that really got the crowd pumped was his remix of Beyonce’s “Check On It.” He then smoothly transitioned into a more rap-heavy interval, blurring the line between his more downtempo sounds with bass heavy trap sounds. At one point, he dropped the ubiquitous “Damn son, where’d you find this?” sample that is so often found in trap songs and remixes into his set. Not long after, XXYYXX mixed the song “Bugg’n” by TNGHT and that’s when the crowd truly went wild. As I surveyed the audience, there was not a single person who was not dancing. It would have been nearly impossible to stand still at this show. XXYYXX closed the show with his popular song “About You,” but he didn’t just play it straight through. He tweaked with the beat, the vocals, and when the drop came in, the entire room reverberated with the wobbly bassline. Everyone in the audience had their hands in the air and were rocking to the beat.
In all, it was a fantastic performance by a talented young artist who has such a bright career ahead of him.
Interview with XXYYXX (Marcel Everett)
The interview will be uploaded soon! In the meantime, reading is still hip, right?
WRGW: We’re from WRGW, it’s the radio station at GW campus. So, we’re Luke, Lotanna, and Sam.
Marcel: Nice to meet you guys, underground.
So how did you pick the name XXYYXX or does it have any meaning associated with it?
I had a shitty tumblr and that was it. And I didn’t think anyone would have a name like that and like three other people did. Now it’s too late to change it so… I don’t know it doesn’t really matter.
You just came up with it arbitrarily though?
Yeah, because I didn’t think anyone would have something like that, but a lot of people do so I guess it didn’t really work out.
Alright, so what do you think about the whole Teen Daze not being able to play thing because of his visa issue.
That really sucks because obviously you can’t play out shows with him and you know when you tour with someone you really get to know them, it’s like chilling with someone 24/7 for days, weeks, even months on end. But it’s cool because Groundislava is a great replacement and I’ve loved his shit. I’ve loved his shit since like I first started making music. So the fact that I’m playing with him is amazing to me.
So, how do you feel about your music being classified as “chillwave” and thoughts on music genre names in general or that particular genre name.
I think that it’s really stupid. It’s annoying. You know what chillwave was in ’09 like Washed Out, 4/4, I’m not hating I chillwave I loved the genre when it was a thing. But if you listen to what I’m doing and you look at the classifications of what they call chillwave it’s a totally different genre of music. It’s a lazy ass ‘I don’t know what to call it it’s electronic and it’s got like some ambience, it’s chillwave.’ No, if anything it’s electronic maybe downtempo, that would make more sense than chillwave. You think of something that’s not me when you hear it. But genres in general they’re pretty good. You’ve got to find stuff but people go overboard.
Yeah, they definitely stretch them out really far and include stuff that shouldn’t be. So what’s it like being 17 at an 18+ or 21+ club? Are they super strict about it?
Some places are cool but some places are lame. You know I’ve got to chill and hang out with all these drunk 25 year olds and it’s like, who are you people? I’m just a 17 year old dude, I can’t hang out with you.
Do you connect with them on a social basis?
Yeah, I do. I try to. I’m not a very good talker, but you know I’m not going to ignore anyone. It’s cool that I can do it and I get an audience that’s older, that’s really cool. It’s weird actually but it kind of sucks because I never get to see people my age and that’s the root of my fanbase. The internet and shit, that’s what got me here so the fact that they can’t see me is lame.
Do you mostly play 18+ stuff?
Yeah lately and it sucks. I’m not really in control of it, it’s usually the venue or who the booking guy goes to and it’s always like 21 up, 18 up.
So speaking of venues, what’s your favorite type of venue to play? Because from what I understand you’ve played in some larger festival type settings and this is like an underground basement.
Actually, I like shit more underground than this. Like this I walked in and I was like damn, this is a nice club. Like really hole-in-the-wall DIY venues because you get real people who go there. Not all these people who try to look cool and shit folding their arms like they didn’t fucking pay a ton of money to get tickets, bumming the DJs and performers out. Usually at small venues like that no one cares. Everyone just goes crazy and has fun and doesn’t care about anything. That’s the whole point, you know?
So do you see a big difference with different crowd sizes?
Yup, especially in clubs, big venues, they’re braindead. They want bangers over and over again. It’s cool but I don’t do that, not everyone makes bangers and if I do drop a banger, my entire set isn’t going to be bangers. But it’s cool because a lot of people get to hear your stuff at once and usually people come out who do enjoy the music but sometimes you do get those crowds that want strictly bangers or they’re going to drunkenly yell obnoxious things at you for no reason.
So before you started making all this as XXYYXX you did some punk band stuff right? So how did you transition from playing punk stuff and going more electronic that’s kind of the exact opposite almost.
Yeah, pretty much. But I don’t know I always listen to a lot of different kinds of music at once, like I still do listen to different kinds of stuff, I just never tried it. I always played guitar so obviously I joined a band to play guitar. But I saw electronic music as something new I could do and I was like ‘I could try this out’ and ended up loving it and I just keep doing it now. Naturally you want to do everything.
So when you’re about to make a new track, what’s your process do you start with a specific sample in mind or does it just come to you?
It kind of just comes to me, which is good I think that’s really cool that I can just get ideas when they happen but sometimes it’s not cool because you feel like you have to force it and that slows down the process even more. But basically I don’t have anything in mind, it’s a building kind of thing, really. You can go anywhere with it, that’s the fun part.
Do you tend to start out with any specific part? Like do you write the bass line or is it different for every song?
I don’t know I don’t really have traditions or whatever but if anything I guess it starts off by me messing around in Synthesis like creating the synths and I figure out what I want to do from there. For the most part that’s what happens.
Cool, so you’re from Orlando right?
What’s your favorite Disney World ride?
I hate all of the above.
You hate all of them?
Yeah I mean if you live in Orlando, and I lived there all my life, so Disney and shit that was played out when I was like 7.
Any interesting stories?
Didn’t someone get decapitated at Six Flags or something?
Yeah, I think that happened once on like a roller coaster right?
Yeah, but I was also dared to get on The Hulk but I was like, nah because that involves me going to Universal. My friends also call me out on it, they’re like ‘yeah I got a Universal pass’ I’m like ‘so? I don’t want to go.’ ‘look man, screw you. I’m gonna go.’ But yeah I like to do other things. Theme parks are really hot and I’ve been on all the rides already a million times, and it’s really crowded. I’m really bad with crowds too so it’s like hellish for me almost.
They’re really stressful, I’m personally not a huge theme park person.
And you have to wait in line for like one ride.
Yeah and the ride’s like two minutes.
All day there, like six rides maybe?
Doesn’t central Florida have this huge electronic music festival every year?
They have some like dumb rave shit but there’s no like actual music scene around Orlando I’d say where it’s not your typical, and I’m not calling out anyone who does it or anything like that, I’m just saying it’s like saturated with really hard-hitting dance music, like four-on-the-floor stuff. And it’s cool but that’s all there is in electronic music.
How long does it usually take you to make tracks? Does it come naturally or does it take a long time?
It doesn’t really take that long that often but sometimes I could spend like a week on a track or so. But on average, it’s hard to average that, but maybe like five hours. Yeah if I go back to it and get done with it in one day like five or seven hours usually.
How do you know when a certain track is done?
I literally just like give up. And it’s like I can’t think of anything better right now or I send it to some friends and they’re like ‘oh this is good’ and I’m like ‘ok’ and I put it out. But usually I don’t really know. That’s a good question, I don’t know how I know I’m just like ‘I guess I’m done.’
So, any shoutouts?
Yeah, shoutout to Relief in Abstract, the label I’m on. Everybody there, Fortune Howl, Grant.
Grant’s really good.
Yeah, Grant’s my homie. He’s really cool too. Shoutout to everyone, you know? Walgreens and anti-shoutout to Aeroméxico. They have bad service so yeah anti-shoutout to Aeromexico. Oh, shoutout to my mom, of course.
-Luke Epp, Sam Lu, Lotanna Obodozie