New Sound 017 \\ Multi-instrumentalist and producer Xoa takes us ‘Way West’.

5th June 2019

Xoa, the project of London based producer and musician Nick Tyson, releases new album ‘Way West’ on 14 June. 

Influences from 70s NASA trips, afrobeat drums, jazz and present day house and techno are encompassed into this Five Easy Pieces release. Leading single ‘Way West’ floats lightly with vocal samples and glooping, percussive melodies. It’s an alluring introduction to the forthcoming album. Vocalist Lulu James provides a catchy hook on the other revealed track, ‘Call on Me’, which Xoa expands on below. Composed with a sensibility that extends from electronic music – Xoa plays the bulk of the instruments on the album – it’s an imaginative piece of work. 

Ahead of the album’s release, Xoa tells us in detail about the writing process behind ‘Way West’ and what’s to come next. 

\\ ‘Call on me’ is a great tune. Tell us about how the track came to be, and how you began working with Lulu James.

Cheers, that track went through various stages. Most of my tracks come from just jamming ideas and grooves in the studio, and if I think it’s got legs then I’ll develop it. It seemed like this track could do with a vocal to lift it as it’s pretty upbeat and has that slight garage feel, so I sent it over to Lulu to see what she thought. I’d heard some of Lulu’s music but it was more that we had been hanging out a little and I really liked her vibe. Collaborating is always about making music with people you like, for me anyway, so we just got together one afternoon and Lulu had prepped some ideas which we laid down, then I messed with it a bit. Et voila.

\\ Did you approach your Way West album with a theme or concept? Could you tell us about the title?

Nothing more really than I wanted to make an album, rather than 2 or 3 tracks at a time, so all 10 tracks were being written and developed at the same time, over a period of about a year. XOA means to look outwards, to draw inspiration from many sources, so for these tracks I was making a conscientious effort to include more electronic elements in the shape of synths, sequences, samples, but to keep an organic, live feel with the guitars and drums, influenced by afrobeat, some senegalese tapes I bought, and even some latin flavours. 

The title has a couple meanings, firstly one of the tracks was originally a demo I was making with Wayward, and the working title was like ‘Wayward 1’ or something, so I changed it to ‘Way West’ and it stuck. Also, when you’re ‘way west’ you’re in a different place, in time, emotionally, or just cause you’ve pushed it a little hard at the party… that tied in with the outwards looking ethos, and the cosmic synthy aesthetic I was working on.

We’re enjoying the design on the sleeve; can you tell us a bit about the designer?

So Claudio, one half of the label Five Easy Pieces, said they always use a buddy of his called Ross Gunter. We had a meeting and he just got it straight away, and came up with the beautiful artwork which is influenced by the 70s NASA flightpaths, space journeys, and also mirrors the music with a retro futurism vibe.

\\ Tell us about your growth as a writer and producer in the lead up to this record.

I feel like my production and writing – and probably true for all producers, at least you would hope – is constantly evolving, refining, finding new things to explore, and for me that is certainly true across this album. I come from a very live and instrumental musical background, a lot of Jazz, blues, reggae and soul, so that’s always going to come across. I’m really interested in how to incorporate that into this project which is essentially electronic, and a lot of the tracks follow a developing structure, a lot of textural changes, and using effects in the mix and contemporary production techniques that are available now.

\\ What’s coming up for you this year?

I’m working on a few new tracks that are a bit harder and more club focussed, then I’ll be getting into writing towards a new album, and I’ve got some fresh ideas for that. Oh, and I’m launching a new vinyl edits series entitled ‘Dancing People’ very soon…

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