UTG INTERVIEW: Ras Xix

ras xix

Having traveled the world over, most recently uprooting from Singapore to Austin, Texas, it’s safe to say that Ras Xix has some valuable experience and miles under his belt to integrate into his creative vehicles. His brand new album was just released on May 1 but between promoting, securing funding, planning upcoming shows, and writing new material, he shows no signs of slowing down, especially as he moved to the Live Music Capital of the World specifically to expand his fan-base and grow his brand.

We recently had the chance to speak with Ras Xix about what can be found on his new album and what he has in store for the near future. You can read through our conversation after the break and stream his brand new release, too!

Is Ras Xix your actual name or is it a moniker you chose to go with for this project?

It’s a moniker…with some pretty geeky origins actually. I went to school for Biology and Ras is a protein which functions as a switch that controls and regulates networks of the different pathways pertaining to cellular function. In a broader social sense, we are all agents connected in a web of inter-relationships affecting change on one another and our environment; receiving input, reinterpreting and re-expressing vis-a-vis art/music. Xix (pronounced “six”) is just my last name with one letter changed for visual aesthetics.

You’ve done your fair share of traveling and exploring the world in the past. Do you feel that these experiences have had any specific influence
on how you create or how your sound has developed over time?

Indeed they have! In all my travels, I’ve found that it’s the company you keep that makes the journey interesting. Not only are you experiencing new sights through your own perceptual filters, but through someone else’s as well and it all goes into nourishing your own internal landscape, which has grown so much. I mean you pick up certain ethnic styles musically as you travel, but it’s really the enrichment of the internal landscape that has given me the wellspring of inspiration to draw from, which translates to a much fuller sound overall, and by that I mean not just musically or technically, but a deeper emotional vocabulary to wield.

And you’re now living in Austin, TX, is that right? Did you attend SXSW this year or have plans to get involved with that in the future since you’re in the area?

Yes, I had been wanting to live in Austin for a while–warm weather, even warmer folk and so much going on in terms of the arts. I did attend SXSW–my first one actually! I didn’t get to go to all the events I wanted but it was awesome nonetheless. I especially liked the buses with the free vodka! I think it would be a real treat if we got to play next year at SXSW.

How would you describe your current sound found on your new album to potential listeners?

Well at the core it’s definitely alternative rock. There are quite a few acoustic songs on the album with elements of World and electronic sprinkled in there as icing. I would describe it as a new iteration of rock infused with World and electronic music, driven by melodic vocal lines.

The album has a very full feel to it musically but I’m curious as to lyrical themes. Are there any recurring ideas that flow throughout it or overall message that you hope listeners will find?

Thank you, I appreciate that. I think amid the varying themes, there is a recurring sense of longing, but yet hopefulness in most of the songs. You know, I tried not to be too self-involved on the album so if there is a message, it would be to reexamine conventional pieties and values. It’s not a new theme, I know, but it seems to be rather understated these days. The more socially conscious songs are “Consent” and “Machine” which are commentaries on the Military-Financial Complex and other consolidated power structures that have hijacked our cherished civil liberties and precepts.

As the album tends to transcend genres, even in one single track, what would you say are some of your most important influences, as far as musicians/bands, that you feel you draw inspiration from?

I think Bjork made an impression on me growing up, especially the remixes. Her voice was the thread that carried through all the varying genres and it seemed to fit perfectly. Mike Patton would definitely be another early exposure that shaped my inclination to transcend genres. Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk. There’s a band from Madrid that I was listening to non-stop for a while, Ojos de Brujo, as well as an Australian band called Dead Letter Circus.

Did you have other musicians involved with the recording and production of the album or did you play all of the instruments yourself?

I worked with a long time buddy of mine, Eddie Alvarez from LA, on the heavier tracks on the album. He plays different instruments too and contributed on “Weightless With You,” “Over” and “Consent.” I pretty much played the rest of the tracks myself. I would ask that people visit the website for the full album credits and production breakdown because it gets a little messy when you have a bunch of instrument switch-offs going on.

Do you have a backing band to help transition this new material to a live setting?

Great question! I’m currently in the process of accepting demos and auditioning players for upcoming performances. The description of the roles can be downloaded from the news section of the website.

So you do have touring plans in the works in support of the album?

Absolutely! It’s always challenging as an independent artist to record, produce and release your own work, much less fund a tour, and after doing the former by myself, I’m pretty much spent! I would like to take this opportunity to announce our tour funding campaign on Indiegogo. If you dig the stuff and would like us to bring the show to your town, please show your support here.

It’s been almost a year since you released your last music video. Are there any plans for another single on this album or new video in the works?

Yes, that’s also in the works. I’m kind of torn as to which song should be shot next…a rockier one maybe? Hmm…I think I’m just gonna have to surprise everyone later.

With the record now complete and recently released, what have you been working on since you finished it? Do you already have plans in mind for your next effort or will you be taking a break for a bit?

I have a bunch of new songs and ideas and directions I want to explore. I don’t think there’ll be time for a break–there’s too much to do and I think it’s time for the big push. I know that for the new record, I’m taking an oath not to do everything this time. I’m looking forward to working with some awesome people here in Austin.

So overall, what’s the rest of 2014 looking like on your schedule?

Hmm, let’s see…tour if possible–that’s a priority–start concepting for the next video, although I guess I have to figure out which song first…and then start shooting. Eventually editing and post production and probably working on new material at the same time. Oh yes, laying on a rock like a rattlesnake and soaking in some Texas sunshine is definitely on the list! It’s going to be a juggling act…again.

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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