If stagnation is the death to creativity, then we can expect some really exciting work from producer XI, as he recently packed his bags and moved to Berlin from Toronto, in what he describes as the right “life move”.
“Many people move here because of the music and culture,” XI explains over the phone on his way to the airport. “But [for me] it is more about the people that are here and just wanting to be around people that I find creatively inspiring. Creativity is drawn from experience, so if you are always stagnating in the same experience your creative output is going to be dictated by that. I think a new life experience just enhances my ability to go new directions and avenues.”
Always known as a musician who doesn’t shy away from musical reincarnation, his newest music project Ambalance sees him creating music with beatsmith Skeleton Bone. XI, who has always claimed to not be fond of out-of-studio collaborations, has rethought his stance with the newest release of the Cokewave EP.
“It’s worked out really nicely,” he admits. “To be able to write stuff in isolation and be able to bounce it off of each other – take time with the process and not really rush it.”
The decision to release Ambalance’s debut on Bandcamp is also something new, which he admits alleviates the worrying about labels, press, genre or any of the other external factors that might hamper a musician’s creative process.
“We literally just make the music we like. If we think it sounds good we put it out for free – no obligations. It is really freeing creatively and fun.”
I ask him if this is the last of his many musical characters – if XI, as a musician, has finally settled into whom he is, he pauses, starts, and then stops again. “I am going to put this in the nerdiest and most embarrassing way possible.” This statement precedes the confession that he loves RPG games a lot and makes a parallel between creating a character for a game with creating new production names. “I kind of look at making new monikers in the same sense as if you are playing a warrior or a wizard, they are two different types of characters and it’s the same as if I am making house music or weird ambient drone experimental music, they are going to be two different things and in my mind I think about them as being two different characters.” He laughs and adds sheepishly, “I think it helps me to categorize where things go in my head.”
XI is performing on Oct. 13 at the Waldorf.
By Donatella Connolly
Photo: Omar Al-Samadi