Every so often a mysterious package will arrive in the Designer Magazine offices that will blow the whole team away. Xiren was one such artist, with his mix of dance beats and classically written songs with hooks more contagious than SARS. In the States the Irish American has been making music for over a decade and Designer Magazine thought it was about time the UK got wind of this potential superstar. Read the full interview below which somehow managed to take in Gangs Of New York, Bono and Pat Metheny.
Q: You're an Irish American, relatives were Irish descendants. How does that cultural history come out in your music?
A: There is some artistic expression below the surface in most Irish art, I would best describe it as a subtle coloration of hopeful melancholy. I feel those emotions are present in my music, even in the most upbeat/pop oriented songs of mine.
Q: A cheeky chappy asked in the office was your relatives journey to America anything like what we saw in Gangs Of New York?
A: Heh heh, that's funny. I had to e-mail a copy of this to my father - so he can laugh about that question too. Not so much like Gangs of New York...My father followed his heart to America. He met my mother while she was travelling through Western Europe in the 60's, and dated her through letters for years.
Q: Could you tell us the meaning behind the name Xiren and do you see that as a character or an extension of yourself?
A: Great question, who are you guys? I wish people in the US had interesting probing questions like these. "Xiren" is a reinvention of myself from 4 years ago. I invented the name and even created mythology behind it, and legally renamed myself as a line in the sand to declare that I was willing to finally take on 100% accountability for my own success in life & in the music industry.
Q: There's some very eclectic songs on the album. What did you listen to growing up?
A: Not that I was happy about it at the time, but my father would play lots of classical and jazz music throughout the house. I have since become a huge Pat Metheny fan and although most other artists come and go from my music collection in phases, Pat Metheny is a staple. In my middle school days I listened to a lot of movie soundtrack albums. By high school I became immersed in artists that made me feel like I belonged. These were artists I would classify as "perfectly flawed"...for me that was a lot of The Cure.
Q: Even through the myriad of influences there is a hint of Bono that shines through in the vocals. Would you agree?
A: Yes lots of Sonny Bono influence. Heh heh.
Q: How important are the band in shaping the songs? Is it Xiren as a solo artist or Xiren as a band when it comes to recording?
A: The recordings have started including some band member influence, but mostly the band doesn't sink their teeth into the songs until recordings are done and we start adding the songs to the live show. I've heard it said many times now that the albums exponentially come alive in the live show.
Q: The album is quite heavily produced. How does that change for the live shows?
A: The live show comes off much more like a great rock and roll show. Someone once described the live show as "what Led Zeppelin would sound like if they were creating music today".
Q: Finally, you've got a paragraph to explain to our readers and the music industry in the UK why you should take note of Xiren?
A: I'm worried that a lot of music put out today misses the point of expressing beauty and a sense of belonging for the listener. I feel that it's time to embrace a new millennium of music writing and production. A merger of classic analog instrumentation with digital synthesis' smoothness embraced by songs full of spirit and craft. Let's finally stand on the shoulders of the last generation's musical geniuses instead of pretending that today's vapid pop is either satisfying or musical. Let's be in danger of allowing "music" back in to the mainstream. U2's Bono challenged the world to write a better rock record than "All The Things You Can't Leave Behind", can someone give me his address to mail him a copy of mine?
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