Talking music with XIMXIA

How can you really make it in the music industry? 

XIMXIA is a Top 20 Billboard charting singer/songwriter/instrumentalist. She stopped by the Fret Zealot studio to talk about all things music, including how to make Spotify work for you, and balance music and a day job. 

 

Q.) What genre is your music project?

A.) My music project spans a lot of genres. Genre is such a hard question to answer because these days, like, what is a genre and does it even matter in so many ways?  But right now, I write a lot of pop music, I start on the piano with something acoustic and then I turn it into something electronic. At first, it was more EDM and more pop EDM, and now it’s a little bit more indie electronic and exploring and seeing where the different sounds are taking me. I love that.

 

Q.) How did you get your solo project going? 

A.) It’s taken me a minute to get my actual pop project started. I’ve played in indie rock bands a lot of my life and loved it, and been working with a lot of other people. And then, just different things happened that made me want to do my own thing because I had total creative control over my own project. And so when that happened, I started finding producers that I could work with because I didn’t know how to produce back then. I’m still learning how to produce, but I try to do more of it myself.

 

Q.) How long have you been playing keys?

A.) I started playing piano when I was like three years old and loved playing classical piano. I think classical piano is translated into my pop music a few different ways. I think one way is just in the way I hear melody. I’m so used to listening to Chopin or Mozart, these incredible melodic artists.And so I think I’m able to write melodies that really draw on all of that. And so they sound kind of familiar, actually, but they’re different.  I also think it’s made me so comfortable with the piano.  It’s just something that I can sit and just things come out of me at the piano, and I don’t have to worry about what it is or how it’s happening. And it’s just enabled me to really express myself because I have that really strong background.

 

Q.) What is your songwriting process like?

A.)  If I’m doing something on my own, I usually have either a topic or something that I know I want to write about, something that’s happening in my life, and then I sit down at the piano, play out some chords, think about some different melodies, and think about this theme that I have,  and how can I make it into a chorus. I always start with the chorus. When I’m writing with other people, because sometimes I’ll top line for other people,  meaning they’ll give me the track, and then I’ll write on top of that.  I always start with that theme or the topic, because at the end of the day, me as an artist is about what I want to say to people and what I want to communicate.

Q.) How were you able to crack the Billboard Top 20? 

A.) It was my very first track that I put out. It was called “Don’t Follow Me”, and I did it with this amazing producer out of LA. His name is Ted Currie, and he had some connections to a bunch of remixers, and so those remixers, they work with different DJs so they can get things played through clubs. We got the song remixed by Dave Audet, who’s this very famous remixer who’s remixed everything – Leanne Rimes and I think Celine Dion, all these amazing people – and Chris Cox, who’s this also amazing DJ out of Las Vegas, and we got these remixes together, and because of their connections, we were able to get it basically played in the clubs, and I guess people liked it enough that they kept playing it,  so it was very, very cool. It was very exciting to get that.

 

Q.) How has social media changed the way artists put out music?

A.) Social media obviously has been a huge game changer, including TikTok, right? You see people all of a sudden get big on TikTok, and then people really rely on their TikTok numbers for their streaming numbers, which has been amazing. It’s so amazing to watch artists who just really flourish from TikTok. But then also I think it’s the genre. I think it’s the lack of genre that we have because people are so open to hearing different things and are so open to hearing new things on social media that now genre is really—those lines are erasing, and we’re able to see a lot more crossover, which I think is really fun.

 

Q.) What are your tips for being successful on Spotify?

A.)  How to make Spotify work is a big question. I think there’s so many people out there that will tell you, too, how they can make it work or how you can make it work. The thing I’ve learned is that no one actually knows what is going to work for you. I think the thing I tell absolutely everyone is before you spend money on someone telling you how to make your Spotify work, really question whether they’ve done it recently and whether they’ve done it with an artist like you, because it changes a lot. It used to be all about play listing, and you would pay to get on playlists or do different things to get onto playlists. And now the play listing matters on some level, but not the same. I think the biggest thing to do that I’ve seen works for most people I know is to release consistently. If you release consistently, then the algorithm can pick you up. And if you keep doing things like sharing your music, I know so many people who release music, but then they don’t share it with their friends or ask their friends to stream it. And if you ask your friends to stream your song, it slowly, you start the momentum, and then the more songs you put out, the more you can get your stuff heard. 

 

Q.) What are your tips for dealing with stage fright?

A.) Stage fright, I think, first of all, it’s very normal. I think a lot of people have it, and everyone gets it at some point, I really think. The best advice I got was from a friend of mine who’s a neuroscientist who explained that the same chemicals that produce excitement are the same chemicals that produce nerves. So it’s really about the story that you’re telling yourself. So when I’ve been very nervous or what I perceive as nervous, I tell myself, wow, Lauren, I’m really excited. I’m really excited for this performance, and then I imagine how I want to feel, especially how I want to feel at the end of the performance and how I want to make people feel. And so that way, if I keep focusing on, okay, for me, it’s always like I want people to feel love. I want people to feel really connected. I want people to feel really open, and like they’ve just witnessed something that is really honest and made them more connected to themselves.

 

Q.) What’s next for you, musically?

A.) I think the biggest thing I’m focusing on is trying to get more performances and figuring out how to connect with audiences more. I used to get so worried about, oh, I want to perform what I want to perform, and my music, I want it to sound like the way I want it to sound. And yes, of course I do want it to sound like the way I want it to sound. I’m not saying that. But I also want to know what affects people. I’m not saying like, also, what do people like to hear? Because I’ve fallen into that trap, too, of like, well, people are going to like it if I sound more commercial, so I should sound more commercial. That is like an empty feeling and really, at the end of the day, left me feeling really empty. So instead, right now, I’m just trying to think about what will connect with people and what will bring people that love and that honesty feeling that I want people to get from my shows.

 

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