The freedom of Battle Rap, developing his production style and the sheer importance of rhythm; catching up with KXVU [Interview]


After a year and a half since his last outing on Southpoint, KXVU is back with an EP due out on home turf. He’s not been slacking in those 18 months, with a string of remixes and compilation features, gradually mutating his sound and drawing inspiration from the many roles he has within various scenes. We thought we’d mark his return to the label he co-founded with an quick interview.

You’ve been active in a load of different areas within the industry for a while now but when was it you first realised you had a connection with music?

The first time I found any interest at all in music in all honesty was when my friend Ntokozo showed me a JME track called ‘Deadout’. The vocal wasn’t what got me it was the instrumental, which Davinche had produced. There was something about the rawness of the horns and the layout that instantly hit me with inspiration and made me say “I want to do this”. From there I went to Mcing with friends and learning to produce instrumentals on FL and it’s all come as a progression from that really. 

As someone who is active in both the UK Battle Rap community and the dance music side of things, what were your biggest influences early on?

I’d say my early influences that have stayed with me are definitely producers like Wiley, Davinche, PJam, Terror Danjah etc. Essentially the grime producers that knew how to bring original flavour and sound design without compromising rhythmic energy. To this day for me it’s all about energetic rhythm over everything else. Later on, producers such as early Redlight, Toddla T on the funkier, carnival side of things and people like Ben Verse and Kryptic Minds became the influences I followed.  

You DJ for most of the big Battle Rap events these days – how did that come about and is there a crossover with your other work?

I’d been following the UK battle culture for a hot minute before I ever got involved. I found it really interesting how innovative and original people could be in their writing. Eventually I ended up trying out and battling myself for a few years. At an event called Sunburn 2 at Brixton Jamm, one of the DJ’s pulled out last minute and my name got thrown into the conversation by a friend of mine called Callum who was very involved with running the events at this point. From there people seemed to enjoy what I did with it and it’s just kind of stuck. I find the battle events, DJ wise, are the only time I’m able to play everything I want. Obviously radio stations have certain rules on swearing and in the dance it’s got to stay high energy so it’s quite refreshing. 

With so many different interests – Southpoint, producing, DJing, and Battle Rap – what tips can you give for staying organised and maintain a consistent work rate?

Get a calendar and put everything in it as soon as you find out with no exceptions. I’ve always liked to stay busy and I’ve found that having one location where I can see everything I need to do and everything I have done already keeps me motivated. I find being able to look back and say “I did all of that today” genuinely inspires you to want to beat that level of output the next day. 

 Since we were first made aware of your productions when discovering Southpoint back at the end of 2016, you’ve released a fairly varied catalogue of music including Dubstep, Grime, Breaks, UK Funky and even some Trap-ier sounds. When you sit down to make a tune do you have an idea in your head of the direction you want it to take or is it a more natural process?

In 100% honesty, I tend to find that when I sit down to make a tune I have a rough idea of the vibe I’m going for. I never have any clue on melody or musical ideas, but I always have a rough idea of the rhythm I’m going to be working with. I think this is why a lot of my stuff would fall outside a typical genre bracket because I like to experiment and play with sounds. 

How has your production style developed since you first started out?

I think everything has got a lot cleaner overall. I think also that the addition of breaksy drum patterns as either sprinkles or leads into most of my tunes tends to add an extra layer of rhythm. It’s all about rhythm. 

Your next EP, ‘Empire’, is wide open in terms of genre but is really cohesive as a body of work. Could you explain the process a little bit behind writing it?

Whenever I build a project I try to work to an overall theme. As this was my first solo project on Southpoint since my album I felt it was a good idea to express the overall journey of what I’ve been inspired by across multi genre influences. The two things that have mainly been inspiring me recently have been breaks and dubstep, so I think the fusion of those two styles became the spine of the project with everything else trickling off in different tangents. I like to think that Southpoint as a label is very multi directional in regards to the music we release, so it was also a homage to that ideal. 

As co-founder of Southpoint, things must be pretty intense but motivating right now! What’s your role within the label?

It’s super motivating, pretty much all of the producers we work with inspire me musically every time we are working on a release. My roles within the label vary but primarily I’m the content manager and lead A&R. This essentially means I tend to organise the release process, working closely with the producers with both feedback and as a mastering engineer to get the best product possible. I also tend to handle the promotional material such as written content and promotional video animations. Myself and Josh tend to find ourselves crossing over a fair bit especially on the promotional campaigns as we tend to work best when bouncing ideas around. 

What do you think it is about Brighton at the moment that has caused this huge, exciting scene to explode there?

I think a lot of clubs and venues have wised up to the fact that there was an entire scene that wasn’t being tapped into. Brighton is a super student heavy city so we rely on staying ahead of the curve. I also think the musical community has reforged over the last 2/3 years which makes so much difference to how the scene is perceived. 

Finally, what’s next for yourself and for Southpoint? Any big news you’re able to lift the lid on?

I can give you a little exclusive right here. From March, the Southpoint: Introducing series will also be available to stream exclusively via Spotify as well as SoundCloud free downloads! We’re very much looking forward to having the material available to as many people as possible! 

You can pre-order KXVU’s forthcoming EP, ‘Empire’, here; it drops on Southpoint on 2/3/18. Also be sure to listen to the very first mix in our brand new ‘In The Mix’ series, mixed by KXVU, below:

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