We caught up with the multi-talented enigma to discuss his incredible new self-produced album.

Nix Northwest is one of the most interesting artists that the UK has to offer. A lifelong passion for music has led Nix to develop into one of the best multi-faceted artists in the UK. It’s evident how persistently and carefully Northwest has worked to master his craft over the past few years, collaborating with the likes of Enny, B-ahwe and Lausse The Cat. His 2019 debut EP Life’s A Bitch, I Just Need an Early Night saw Nix accumulate critical and public admiration, with the rapper set to continue his quest for rightful wide-spread acclaim.

Since the debut EP, Nix has been hard at work in the studio, solely constructing a sonic universe that is unique to himself. He has now re-emerged with one of the best albums of the year so far, Xin’s Disappearance. Northwest had full creative control over the body of work; from the writing, to the production, much of the instrumentation, and the mixing, the multi-talent has achieved a feat that most could only dream of – a project that is entirely his own work. Masterfully executed, the album is a confident and concise narrative-driven journey through doubt, escapism, romance, poignancy and self-reflection, with Nix creating an alter ego that bleeds through into his own deepest thoughts and experiences. The genre-defiant, meticulously groove-laden and emotionally-provoking collection of songs is the clearest indicator to date of the boundless skill and effortless star quality of the artist.

We caught up with the man himself, diving deep into the creation and meaning of his new album, his musical origins, and the essence of his sound.

Listen to Xin’s Disappearance

Read the full interview below

Hey Nix! How did you first discover your love for creating?
I can’t really remember the exact moment but it was probably drawing when I was really young. When I got older I remember my parents would tell me how I’d spend hours drawing and if it wasn’t perfect I’d tear it up and start again. Definitely still a perfectionist but hopefully one with a bit more perspective now haha.

Who and what influences you to create?
I’m a firm believer in really living to be inspired. Creativity is an expression of our emotional reactions to the world around us. Shifting your everyday environment is scientifically proven to spur on creativity, and I always feel at my most creative when I’ve gone on a little spontaneous trip away or had a sudden change in routine. I think that’s why I felt so inspired in the first lockdown: For a city that’s so chaotic and hectic all the time – to have it just stop – and be silent was so alien to everyone who lives here. I remember cycling through central London and there was just no one around and it felt like another world slightly, which seems quite fitting as the idea for Xin’s Disappearance was conceived around this time.

At what point did you believe you could make a career out of music?
I think when I was around 11 or 12 and had my first experiences of writing music with a group of people that I played with on this youth music project at the Roundhouse in Camden. They had the sessions every saturday and I would always leave feeling so charged and happy. I definitely have a memory of thinking ‘If I could do this for a job that would be amazing’ and I remember just convincing myself that I was going to create music as a career. I didn’t really know the ins and outs of how that was going to happen but I just let the universe take care of that one for me.

How would you define the essence of your sound?
I think it’s just an accumulation of my influences to be honest. I’m quite a jazz head and have always had an affinity for that side of music. Whether it’s been straight ahead jazz from the mid 20th century to soul, funk, hip hop and everything in between. It’s hard to put a finger on the exact sound I make because I try and make it a little bit versatile: switching up the tempos, sometimes dusty boom-bap drums and sometimes clean 808/trap drums. I definitely take a little from everything that I’m into and try and create something new.

Where do you see yourself within the wider UK scene?
I definitely keep myself to myself creatively – I’m not really having dozens of sessions with dozens of different artists and producers. I like creative collabs to come naturally and I generally like making a personal connection with an artist or producer first before working together. I just make the kind of music that I want to hear and whatever scene that falls into, so be it!

How has your sound progressed since your debut EP?
I think there’s definitely more of a ‘live’ feel in a lot of these album songs. I didn’t necessarily set out to do that but I was conscious of how the songs would translate at live shows when I have my full band. I definitely think the album is more upbeat than Life’s A Bitch and wanted to make some tunes that you could dance to.

The new album Xin’s Disappearance is incredible! Talk us through the creative process of the project?
Thank you! Very grateful for all the love it’s been getting since it dropped and still haven’t really taken it in properly. It started with a little idea that I had for an EP that I was going to call ‘Xin’s Return’. I just thought I’d need some context to what Xin would be returning from so then thought of the name ‘Xin’s Disappearance’ – so I’d had the rough concept and title for the album before I started making any of the music. I usually make music to an image in my head which kind of sets the mood and I think why a lot of the production ends up sounding quite cinematic.

Even though the album speaks through this alter-ego and this surreal parallel universe I still needed it to be authentic to the real me therefore all the anecdotes and stories are all things from my actual life that have just been set against this surreal backdrop. All in all I spent about a year and a half writing it, and then a year and a bit recording, finessing the production and mixing it.

It’s a very conceptual body of work – did you set out to achieve that from the beginning?
Definitely! I wanted to create a body of work that can keep on giving even on the 50th listen. On the surface level I wanted to make good and solid songs that can bring you in on and that people can vibe to but then also have the option to peel back the layers and go deep into it if they want to. I think that’s why it took me so long to make because it isn’t just a collection of songs that I’ve made during a window of time. It’s funny because all I want to do now is just create some really raw and unplanned songs and just see how it all ends up.

We loved the collaboration with ENNY on “You Ain’t Got a Chance Boy” – how did that one come back?
I’ve known Enny for a few years now and I first met her through her manager and producer Pascal (Paya beats). The first time we worked together was on a song that has never been released but one of my favourite songs I’ve collaborated on with someone. I just remember Enny putting her verse down on that track and being proper blown away and inspired. I was only playing keys on that tune but knew I always wanted to jump on a track with both of us rapping. I wanted to keep the features on the album to quite a minimum because it’s such a personal album and wanted someone who I felt had been there for the journey. I had this kind of dance-y beat which wasn’t like anything i’d really made before; started writing the lyrics and thought Enny would kill it so I hit her up to come for a session and the rest is history!

What do you want listeners to take away from the album?
Whatever they want to be honest. As I mentioned before it’s something that I intended to be enjoyed at anywhere from the surface level to a super analytical peeling back of the proverbial onion layers, haha. I think people will be able to relate to the topics I cover and I always just try and stay as real and true as possible. If we’re talking messages of the album I’d say the main idea is to not be too hard on yourself, especially when you’ve made mistakes or done things that have impacted people negatively. Self-love really is the key!

Where do you want to take your artistry?
Wherever it’ll take me! There are so many other avenues of creativity I want to explore further like painting, acting, more directing and so on. Musically, however, I just want to keep improving and becoming a better artist and always staying true to myself and keeping it interesting. I always want to strive for above average and always go that extra step than the next person – not necessarily in a competitive way just to push the bounds of what’s possible.

What’s to come from you?
You’ll have to wait and see! Hopefully things that are going to catch people off guard and some good surprises, definitely don’t want to be predictable.

Big love and thanks for having me!


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