Meet Versus.xx, the LA artist who thrives on raw emotions in his music
Versus.xx is a new artist and producer that does not shy away from vulnerability, but leans into it.
“I want to be who people feel safe with,” the LA artist says, as his black-and-blue tattoos illustrate his transparency in accepting every feeling (happy or sad or anything in between) that comes to him.
Idealizing the stereotype that men are emotionless is disingenuous, and Versus.xx is here to prove to the world that vulnerability can be a positive thing.
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Versus.xx was born and raised in Azusa California, a 30min drive away from Los Angeles. For him, Azusa was the perfect blend of living the suburban life while being able to experience the excitement and adventure a big city has to offer.
Versus.xx chose this specific name as a constant reminder his greatest enemy is himself. Only he could push himself to become the better version of Versus.xx than he was the day before.
Versus.xx first made his debut on Soundcloud, after realizing music was his great escape. His need to escape has been the driving force to being more adventurous- from rock climbing to traveling overseas- these escapades have been huge influences on his style of music.
We had the opportunity to interview him just before his latest single, Wings.xx, drops on Friday.
KH: How would you describe your creative process (song lyrics, anything you tell yourself to keep in mind, any specific ritual you do, etc…)?
I’m an artist, producer, and engineer so the whole creative process is really up to me. With most songs that I make, they mainly stem from me in my room, making sure the energy is there… Open, like making sure that I feel transparent and I’m able to be transparent with what I’m feeling right now.
With this song, Wings.xx, I started out with the beat and then added writing to it, and then I brought in my friend, Southern Wade, who would add in the guitar and the strings towards the last part of the song.
That’s mainly how my process goes, I start with myself… allowing me [myself] to be a lot more vulnerable… like I’m a super introverted person anyways so I just like creating by myself.
Once I have an idea and I have a structure going on, then I’m able to really convey that idea to others and allow other people to add their vibes in.
KH: I notice you have a lot of .xx on the ends of your songs, is there a significant meaning behind that?
The .xx is kinda like applying to whatever struggle it is you’re facing. So the .xx is just adding onto the branding, just adding that little piece of individuality to my whole brand.
I see myself as an artist that stands out among the rest and I really get off on doing shit differently. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artist that’s had a very contingent theme within their song titles, so the .xx consists of that.
What song of yours is your favorite piece and why is it your favorite?
Definitely Wings.xx, and I feel that way because every new song I make, I feel like I get a level higher, a level stronger, and with Wings.xx, it’s super relevant to my life right now and because of that relatability, it’s my favorite.
But with each new song, I feel myself becoming stronger, creative, more confident. I’m becoming closer to the creative that I want to be.
KH: Are there any artists that you look up to? What makes them so inspiring to you?
Some of my favorite artists are definitely Kanye, growing up my favorites were Kanye and Eryka Badu and as I’ve grown to acquire my own musical taste throughout high school and stuff, I listen to a lot of Bon Iver and Bjork.
I actually got one of his songs tattooed onto my arm, it says “it’s not up to you” on my forearm. It came to me at a really sensitive time so I got it as a permanent reminder that sometimes it’s not up to me. My angels got their hands on the wheel so sometimes I just have to check where life is going.
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For me, I didn’t grow up super creative, my family didn’t really enhance my creativity. They were very left-brained, very analytical. My mom and my dad are both huge overthinkers and I’ve carried over a lot of those traits. So for me, creatively, sometimes we have to let go and grow up.
Have you ever heard of the term polymath?
A polymath is like Da Vinci because he was one of the smartest mathematician and engineer in history but he also created art pieces, so it’s like polymath are people who carry a creative beautiful skill but they also have the perfect balance of their analytical side and they’re able to engineer their thoughts and think things through.
That is a huge inspiration because I grew up in a really analytical family and analytical upbringing where I love to sit back and calculate things. I love taking care of my space and read books, but I’m also an artist and sometimes at the end of the day I just have to say fuck it and trust wherever my heart is taking me at that moment.
KH: What do you think sets you apart from other artists? Is it the message you try to send?
I feel my music. What really inspired me in my music is being sensitive, I love being vulnerable, growing up as well. Looking at the artists I’m inspired by, people like FKA Twigs, people like Bon Iver, people like Kanye, people like Eryka.
We all know Kanye is so emotional and vulnerable at times, whether we like him or not and it always touched a place for me in my heart that other music really doesn’t.
Letting go and having that energy and just turning up sometimes feels great, but what really carries with me is being vulnerable and I love being vulnerable with my music. I love having vulnerable conversations with people so how I like to live my life is reflecting upon that.
I want to be who people feel safe with, when people feel down they feel safe to listen to my music and it’s a proper reminder for them they are not alone with the feeling that they’re feeling, and they can make it another day through that.
KH: What do you currently think is your greatest accomplishment so far?
I would say in an emotional plane, what is so important to me, I would definitely say just the fact that I am able to make music every day and thank God that I’m safe and I’m healthy and I’m happy and life throws me bullshit sometimes but I have the proper tools to make it through
In a physical space, definitely being able to perform at the X games in Norway last year, cause that was a super fire experience. I have a lot of creative ties in Scandinavia and I’ve been traveling out there for a couple of years and I have a bunch of friends that make music out there so last year we were blessed with the opportunity to perform at the X games after show.
KH: In the Red Bull episode, you say that you try to find color in music. Is there a specific order you have for your music, like yellow is happy music and such? Why would you describe your music as blue?
Blue has always been my favorite color ever since I was a little kid. My dad still makes fun of me about it because most of my outfits consist of blue shirts, blue shorts, blue shoes and same things with my tattoos.
All my tattoos are black and blue and that’s really the only colors I have, and for me, blue has always been the most comforting color for me.
It made me feel… like every time I see blue, I feel like I’m safe. Sometimes we’re around certain people that we don’t feel comfortable being ourselves around and we feel we have to put on this facade just to not push the boundaries of the other people who aren’t as tapped in.
Whenever I see blue or whenever I hear a song that reminds me of that color, I just feel safe, I feel really comfortable.
Every song, they call it synesthesia, which I don’t know if I have that or not, but I just feel like when you’re super tapped into the art, super tapped in with the music, you’re able to translate it to other mediums.
You know some people see shapes, for me, color has always been a thing that I kinda feel, it gives me the same emotions that some songs do.
Next time you listen to a song, close your eyes, don’t force it and let the color come to you.
KH: What are you most excited to show your listeners about your newest song? (Wings.xx)
I think some of my favorite parts about releasing a new song is like… kinda updating my resume to my listeners, as in like how I feel at that moment.
I feel like making music is sort of therapy for me, and it’s a session with my therapist, like my listeners are my therapist so whenever I’m able to… In therapy you have all this shit on your mind and you’re like damn I can’t wait to see my therapist next week and kinda air all this shit out, it’s similar to that.
I’m excited to update my listeners like okay this is what I’ve been working on. This is that much closer, even if it’s an inch, even if it’s a mile, it is that much closer to showing you guys the real vision I have.
In every month that I’m able to release a new song, I feel that I’m getting closer and closer to that version that I see in my head. It’s just a daily battle of me making it a reality, so this song is like definitely my favorite song because it’s that much closer to showing everyone the ‘me’ that I see in my head.
KH: Last but not least, Is there any advice you’d give your younger self, before starting out on your music career?
The one thing I would tell myself is that sometimes it’s not up to me. I just need to let go and let my heart do the talking sometimes, rather than my thoughts. It’s a tough balance.
If I coulda told myself as a kid to trust that voice in my head and to not listen to this baby that we have to take care of every day, things would’ve probably gone a lot smoother but I don’t have any regrets because it’s made me the man I am today and I hope to become stronger every day through all my mistakes and all my experiences.
From being his own producer to even creating his own album covers (with tutorials), Versus.xx is a man of many talents.
Here is his new single, Wings.xx.