Chicago is indeed a bright, vibrant hub of music. The city has birthed careers of greats ranging from Curtis Mayfield and Chaka Khan, to R.Kelly, Common and Kanye West. It’s also, as of late, become the nucleus of the drill movement, which has been led by artists like Chief Keef, Lil’ Herb and Lil’ Durk. It’s the definition of musical melting pot.
Enter XVRHLDY (pronounced Xavier Holliday), the new face and sound of the Chicago music scene. With a vocal range that (sonically) makes us think of a young 3 Stacks (Andre 3000), Xavier is bringing a unique style/sound – and it’s not going unnoticed. He was recently featured by big publications like The Source and XXL, and the list goes on. His highly anticipated Need To Know II: LUNA, dropping early 2015, will feature the likes of Pete Rock, Saba, NoName Gypsy, Joey Purp and Odd Couple, among others.
We took some time out to chat with Xavier (interview below).
Tell us about how you got into hip-hip
I’ve been performing since I was young – my mother used to make me memorize long speeches, like 6 pages, and recite them in front of large crowds of people at church functions. So I’ve always been comfortable in front of an audience.
As far as hip-hop goes, I actually didn’t grow up listening to it. When I was younger, I was more more into punk rock – Panic At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects (etc). The first rap I ever really heard was Beastie Boys, Licensed To Ill. I actually had that on cassette tape. That’s where it started for me, I started writing raps and poems and it grew from there.
Tell us about your music. Who are some of your influences?
I don’t like to really give influences, because I feel like I don’t fashion myself to sound like anybody – but in terms of the actual sound of my voice, I’ve been told I sound like André (3000) a lot, just as far as the southern drawl we both have. As far as actual influences, I pull most of my inspiration from my life and what I go through rather than from an artist. From my abstract thoughts.
Walk us through your current projects.
I have a few older projects, from before I was as serious as I am now, but I’d say my most important project to date has been my Need To Know EP.
I originally wanted to make a whole album. I was living in NYC at the time and my circle there (including my producer), after hearing the sounds I was making, told me not to waste them. Rather, that I should release them properly – hence the EP. That was really something that I released to hold my fans over while I fine tune the album. Crazy thing about that project is that it was written and recorded in 3 weeks, but it doesn’t at all sound rushed.
Right now your getting a lot of attention from the industry. How does that feel?
It really inspires me to keep going. People don’t always get to see the work you put in you know? It’s like studying for school finals; nobody really sees the effort you put in at home, just the overall performance in the exam. It’s inspiring that people are noticing what my vision is and what I’ve been working on. It feels hella good, and I’m going to just keep pushing.
In the audio clip below, XZVHLDY gives us his take on the current Chicago music scene and the influence of the Chi-Town sound.
What are you working on now? Do you have an album coming?
I actually have two projects coming soon. One is a shorter project, which is actually a sequel to Need To Know –Need To Know II: LUNA –that’s actually finished now. It’s just being mixed. I plan on dropping another video before that too. As well, l’m working on making sure the album sounds the way I want it to sound. That should be out in the summer.
We’re looking forward to that! Any last words for our blog?
I appreciate you interviewing me! I’m in a particularly good mood today, I’m at Starbucks drinking the white cocoa – and I love the white cocoa! I’m in love the cocoa man, the white cocoa!
UPDATE: since giving this Interview, XVRHLDY did in fact release a new video – a short film he directed called “The Root”.