Q&A interview with dubstep artist xKore
Matt Cavender aka xKore has been furiously paying his dues and working his way up the dubstep ranks over the past couple years, delivering his crisp, precise take on melodic dubstep to an ever-growing army of faithful fans. His Soundcloud is a veritable treasure trove of dancefloor smashing bass and memorable synth hooks.
Xkore first started getting attention over at the Newgrounds community before he popped up on the radars of the likes of Skream & Benga, Dillon Francis, and Borgore. His track Need You was like a breath of fresh air and it wasn’t long before he released Hello on UKF and chalked up close to a million-and-a-half views.
The young British producer has been a firm favourite of ours here at dubstep.co.uk for some time now, so we were honoured that xKore took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer questions about what makes him tick, where his inspiration comes from and what he has planned for the future. So without further ado, here’s our Q&A with the one like xKore.
Like many people, we first came across you about 3 years ago when Need You started bouncing around Soundcloud. What was it like seeing the response to that tune and why have you taken so long to actually finish it?
Need You was one of a few tunes I had made around that time that had a surprising uptake by people that I didn’t really expect. A few big guys in the scene back then found their way to it aswell, like Skream and Sub Focus. At that point I had never even imagined people like that would be listening to my music.
From that track and a couple others Skream gave me a break by letting me have a 5 minute interview and 15 minute guest mix on his Skream and Benga mix show on Radio 1 (along with Dismantle, Subzee D and Dream who are all also still going very strong.
I took the track down because Skream wanted to sign it to his label Tempa. I wanted to make it better than it was if I was going to release it so I said to him that I’d work on it then we could do the release. After that, I got so caught up in the hype of releasing one of my tracks on UKF and then my EP on Buygore that I never got around to finishing the tune and releasing it.
It’s definitely something I want to come back to, and now I’m in a better place than before, so I want to do it properly with vocals and video and such, at some point.
You’ve mentioned a few times that Yoko Kanno has been a big influence on your work. What is it about her music that really moves you and is anime/videogame music a big inspiration for you in general? Would you be keen to score soundtracks in the future?
I find I like her music because she puts a level of detail into it that I’ve never really found other soundtrack composers do. There are parts in the Ghost in the Shell series where the music just goes so well with what’s going on that it gives me that feeling that you know the producer of this art piece has created a moment that just works with you. Like when you have a favourite song, you can try and describe it but a bunch of other music will fit that criteria and not “work” for you, that one just does.’ Haha, I don’t know.
I’m also a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series and Final Fantasy 8 for the same reasons. It’s kind of cheesy but these things were the art pieces I experienced when I was in the part of my life where I was still learning how to appreciate something artistic. I don’t watch anime or play video games at all actually, but those three series are still pretty key to me I think. They are produced by the people I look up to most.
I would love to score some kind of soundtrack at some point, it’s an unexplored territory for me professionally. At the same time I’m actually really happy doing what I’m doing now, so it’s not like I’m dropping things to start scoring.
When can we expect a full-length artist LP from you and what kind of album do you think it will be?
I have a 5 track EP planned at the moment. As I write this I’ve sent off my pitch of the tracks that I want to be released, for approval by Inspected. So I should have a date for release soon.
I don’t have any plans to do an album just yet. Single releases are a thing I want to do first.
Do you still spend much time on Newgrounds?
I haven’t been on that site in years. I respect it for being the site that pushed me to produce in the first place, and it has a nice little audio community. I don’t have any real need to go on that site though.
Shouts to other producers doing well that started on Newgrounds though: Space Laces, Emperor, Centra, Haywyre,
You’ve been touring pretty heavily the last year or so. Any standout gigs/venues/memories?
The Firepower tour a while back with Datsik, Terravita, Getter and The Frim was pretty hard (and took a heavy toll on my body). We went over alot of cities in America and Canada on a bus tour, so gigs were back to back and stacked. The crew was so tight and it was a great time.
LA, Miami, Paris and Perth are all my favourite spots to go to and I’ve done each of them a few times. Honestly, most gigs I do are a great time hanging out with locals and enjoying the music.
There’s a lot of fucked up shit that goes on, but most of the time I’m either in a state where I don’t remember what actually happened or I’m not allowed to tell anyone. Haha. I will say that I usually find myself at the most random after parties though.
You’re still a young chap. Do you have a mentor/guardian angel/figure from the music scene who’s really taken you under his/her wing?
I haven’t really settled down in any one spot in the music scene so I haven’t had any one person, but there have been a lot of people that have gone out of their way to give me a step up and I am forever grateful to them.
Some of those people are Skream, Sub Focus, Borgore, Sub Focus, Datsik, SKisM and Knife Party. I’m sure there are more that I can’t think of at the moment.
How big a role does social media play in promoting your work?
For me it’s the key primary thing, probably because I usually have to handle it all myself. Finding a good channel to upload my music on release, doing a few ads and updating all my social media are the motions I go through when putting out music. Then there’s maintaining my accounts with day to day goings on which just happens naturally.
All artists should have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and Youtube at least, and work to keep them updated.
As you get bigger though you start to enter the realm of TV, radio, blogs and events. For bigger releases there is usually a specialist handling press to radio and blogs, a publisher pushing music to TV and people promoting you for events they’ve booked you for. These are all things that have to happen if you want to move past the stage of being the producer that makes music for people to listen to on their computers, and actually being a name.
Related to that, as a relatively new artist, how can you ensure that you can make a decent living from the work you’re doing with agents, labels, etc. all getting a cut?
I think there is a pretty big misconception with how much money artists make in the biz. Sure some of the bigger artists make a killing, but most earn a modest amount and stick with it because it’s something they are passionate about.
There isn’t really much money in releasing music anymore, unless you release a popular “listening” track independently or something. To give you an idea, the store takes about 50% right away, after that the distributor takes 20% from what’s left, after that the label usually takes 50% from whats left of that, then at the final level management can take anything from 10% to 50%. This leaves the artist with about 18% of the sales of their own music. It’s kind of a farce, but it’s just the way the world works.
Most artists earn their money with doing events, that’s why it’s pretty critical for producers to take up DJing. First and foremost though, the music drives these gigs.
My advice for people coming up is: don’t chase the dream of becoming a rich famous DJ, just try and be the best producer you can be for the passion of it, if you can make business from that then that’s great.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Anything big coming up?
I’ve got the next EP which has been in the works and on hold for about two years now, so that’s pretty big for me.
A couple collabs with Stereoliez, Aero Chord and F3tch. I wanna do another one with Konec too.
I have a remix for Rise at Night that’s done and waiting for release at the moment.
It’s taken a while but I’ve finally gotten around to sorting my merch situation. Gonna be releasing a couple of the tanks that were going around on the Firepower Tour, and some new all over print shirts that I’ve designed. Once it’s up and sorted I really wanna spend time designing new stuff and collabing with some artists to create some items.
Nothing much is planned yet but I also wanna plan more tours hitting North America and Australia, along with the usual nights I do around Europe.
You’ve been collabing with a whole bunch of artists recently. Who’s been the most fun to work with? Who would you most like to work with next?
I’m not really good with doing collabs with people, most of the tracks in my catalogue are originals by just me or remixes by just me. I think I’ve found a circle of people that I’m comfortable with collaborating with though. Those people being Konec, F3tch and Stereoliez. So there’s definitely gonna be more of those collabs in the future.
I’ve had some projects come through from much bigger artists, but I’ve never really felt the need to force it, there are a few that I want to follow through on, but I can’t announce those just yet.
In the future I feel like I want to work more with unique sounding vocalists, if anyone has any suggestions feel free to hit me up. I’m really proud of how the vocal turned out for the track I did with Ooo.
Where do you like to hang out and party when you’re at home? Any secret spots you can let us in on?
When I’m at home, opposed to what I do for a living, I only really like going out with a small group of friends for a social night. I’m not so into loud music haha.
My brothers and their friends are big into dubstep and drum and bass, sometimes I go out with them. The spot for that kind of music used to be Cable, but since that shut down it kind of moved to Fire. I’ve never really been a fan of Fabric. Locally there aren’t many events in Kent but when they do go on they’re usually at Mojos or the Tunnel in Chatham.
I could probably name more places in Miami and Paris to be honest haha.
Aaaand finally, what’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
There are no rules, only guidelines.
Applies for music production but can apply to anything creative in life really. Great things happen when people go against the norm.
Arkana’s new tune is the most stunning piece of music you will hear all week
Every now and then a tune comes along that smacks us in the face and makes us stop what we are doing. Arkana’s new one, Revealing Light, is one such tune. It opens with these gorgeous, sweeping strings and powerful piano chords, before these simple synth stabs that lead us into the crisp drums. It’s a fantastic piece of music and the switch-up after the breakdown is masterfully done. It’s dubstep (or “power sound” as he calls it), but with a little more thought and melody than we’ve grown accustomed to from today’s producers. It’s also a free download, so get it while it’s hot.
Arkana has a few other tunes like this over on his Soundcloud that are well worth checking out.
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