Hiya XOLYDIA thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I didn’t really decide that music was a thing for me, it have just always been something that I’ve been drawn towards. 

Music has been a natural part of my identity and how I express myself from an early age. When I was a child, my family used to do long car rides to visit my grandparents and I was given a freestyle at the age of five. My siblings weren’t a fan of me singing out load in the car and I soon learned to enjoy my music silently, at least until we reached our destination. I absolutely loved listening to music and could easily dream of myself away for hours. At the age of six I joined my first choir and started to take piano lessons. Since then, music has never left my side. 

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

Oh, where do I start? Since 2021 I create Art pop/Indie folk/Electronica under the artist- name XOLYDIA and I thrive when I can tell stories with my songs. 

When I grew up, I was trained in classical music. I played piano and the recorder. Many people tell this story of how they were forced to play the recorder and absolutely hated it, but I chose it voluntarily because I really like the sound (it should be mentioned that I was the alto recorder I found appealing). 

I was engaged in different choirs from the age of six and never really stopped. I’ve been part of all sorts of choirs, from classical/folk music/ barbershop/jazz choir to name a few. When I moved to London, I joined the West End Musical choir and it’s a choir that have a special place in my heart, it’s always good vibes and great songs. I used to participate in international choir competitions with my choir Koritsia and absolutely loved the intense practice we put into our pieces and performances. In my early 20s I sang in a duo and took part in amateur musicals. 

At first, I didn’t choose music as a career, I actually studied and worked with something completely different. However, my longing for making music a bigger part of my life and to do singing/ songwriting professionally eventually got too strong. I did a big life change and moved to Norway where I studied a course that combined music and outdoor life. During that year I re-connected with myself and thanks to supportive people around me I dared to take the leap and applied to an education in Music performance and Music Production at BIMM London. I was accepted and an amazing adventure that I couldn’t even imagine awaited me. At the point of this interview, I have used finished my last assessment of my Bachelor and I’m incredibly happy that I chose to pursue music. Here in London, I have also done courses in musical theatre and are performing my first show in July as an ensemble dancer and singer. 

Name me your 3 favorite Albums.

Oh! I love that question.

I would say: The Kick Inside- Kate Bush, Sweap me away- Fredrika Stahl and A differen kind of human- Aurora. 

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

Honestly, I don’t know. But I was obsessed with The Shoop Shoop song with Cheer as a child. When I think about it, I remember dreaming of being an artist when I listened to Sahara Hot Nights. It was the album was C’mon let’s pretend. It was an all-girl band that did rock music and all the members had taught themselves to play instruments. I thought that was cool and looked up to them as young girl. I used to fantasise playing the bas, wearing a black dress and having red hair just like Johanna Asplund had at that time. 

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?

I think I have a way better understanding of the industry and the width of it after doing a bachelor education. I used to have a very limited idea of what the music industry was and how you could be “successful” in music. Now I know that there are many ways you could become a part of the music industry. 

The music industry is changing very fast, and things are working very different now compared to only a decade ago. I’m an independent artist and I see myself as a creative entrepreneur. It has never been a better time for making music independently with an increasing accessibility to both analog and digital technical equipment to record and produce. Digital streaming services makes it possible to self-release and social media have opened the doors for the artist to directly interact with potential listeners.  There is no longer a must to get a record deal or any reason to not pursue music if you happen to be exposed to gate keeping. However, I would like to work with a label eventually because working with a team where each person is specialized in their area often makes things easier. If it’s a good team people will lift each other and work together towards a common vision. You have a lot of freedom as an independent artist, but it is also a lot of work to be done by one person. 

I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?

That’s an excellent question. I think it’s important to spread awareness and have a dialogue about it. This question is a great start.

Some of the reasons women feel unsafe at music gigs is because of unwanted attention, being sexualised or being approached by someone in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable. I think that it is important in all areas in life to be aware and read the room. Be respectful, considerate, and don’t take advantage of a position of power. Respect a no and never use bad or violent language. I would urge men especially to have this in mind. Let’s make gigs a safe, nice place where the music can be enjoyed together.

Music gigs are a place where the audience is there for recreation, however, for the performers it’s a workplace. Being disrespectful or harassing someone is of course never okay, but I think it’s important to spell out that the performer is there to work.

The venue organizers can help by setting clear rules and help if anything happens. In many bars there is a number you can call or a name you can say to the staff if you are in an uncomfortable situation, those are great initiatives. However, one would wish that it wouldn’t be needed in the first place. 

Getting home late in the night after a gig as women can feel like a gamble. I don’t think all men understand this fully. I read somewhere that a survey showed that men’s biggest fear is to be laughed at, and women’s biggest fear was to be killed or rapped. 

As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?

One way of finding new listeners is finding the people that listen to the music I’m influenced by or listen to artists that do similar music as I do. Is there any common thread, do the people that listen to me have certain interests or values? It’s about finding and understanding your target group and developing a relationship with them. For it’s about creating connection through authenticity. I share my story, my development process, and my fears on my social channels. I think that we in this modern society tend to hide behind facades, but in fact it’s the imperfections and vulnerable parts of us that is the very foundation of creating connection. 

When starting to build your social media presence I believe that the most important part is to find how YOU want to use your socials, what works for you? I have done several workshops and courses in social media and branding, but if the strategies don’t resonate and feel honest to you, it will show, and the strategies won’t work even though they might have great results for someone else. A common advice is to post often and regularly. That doesn’t work at all for me, I tried for a while, but then I stopped because I would much rather do a long post once a week about something I really wanted to tell my followers about rather than doing posts and stories every single day. 

An advice that has worked for me is “Find your niche, what you are passionate about and want to share with the world”. What could you talk about repeatedly without it losing its magic? My niche is music production, singing, songwriting, musical theatre and sound design. Interact and be curious, ask your listeners questions. Who are they? What do they like with your music? Do they also create?

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you?

I have dived with sharks

I once had a coffee with Lana Del Rey

I used to be a scientist

What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?

As much as I love Spotify (as a listener) and cherish the way they have made music accessible for free or at a low rate, there are problems with it. I think that competition on the market is important and can fast-forward the development of the concept of streaming platforms, how they work and how we interact with them. Spotify’s pay rate for streams are disastrous. After having my debut single up for 1,5 years, I cant afford to buy a coffee for the money I’ve earned. I can’t even invest back in my own artist project. 

I think it’s worth mentioning that even though Spotify is the dominant streaming platform, there are other streaming services such as Bandcamp, Tidal, iTunes, Apple music to name a few. And there are still many people watching music or lyrics videos on YouTube. The question to ask might be why Spotify has a monopoly.

What do they do or offer that has such an appeal to so many listeners? Spotify was founded because they saw a gap in the market and created something they noticed that people wanted, and they worked to keep it interesting. For example, I really enjoy the “discover weekly” list or being able to use the function “artist radio” to find similar music to an artist I already like. 

The way we listen, use, and interact with music also changes rapidly. With relatively new functions on Instagram to use other peoples or original music in stories and on reels. Many in gen Z find new music on TikTok. So, I think Spotify needs to keep up. 

Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?

I don’t, but I think they are interesting and sometimes nerve- wracking. One of the first conspiracy theories I heard about was that the moon landing was fake. I think the arguments about that was quite thought-provoking. Another interesting one is the theory around Illuminati, a secret society formed in the 15th century, but claimed to still exist today and “controlling the world”. You can tell that I have been googling this during late nights right haha. 

I actually believe in one. It is very repulsive. The conspiracy is that the US developed a secret weapon during the 80s that looks like a glue gun and when pressed against the skin it releases a substance that makes the person develop a heart attack. 

Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?

Haha, well…I know where you try to get. I don’t think I bought too many things that I didn’t need; however, I took part in a questionable number of online courses and workshops. I bought a lot of canvases and even started my own online shop to sell my art. 

What was your worst experience on stage?

The worst experience on stage was when I was in a group number and I had only one line to sing, and I missed my beginning and messed it up. That felt so awful, and I felt guilty about the group. I blamed myself so much and was very critical. Looking back, I am more compassionate towards myself, everyone makes mistakes, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. No one got angry with me, and the number turned out good in the end anyway. 

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.

I have done skydiving, but I’m just as satisfied reading a novel in the park. 

What makes you stand out as an artist?

I’m not following the rules haha. I’m following my own intuition and creativity rather than trying to predict what the market wants or following trends. I’m making music to tell stories with words and sounds. I see every song as a piece of art or sculpture, that I carefully shape. 

In popular music today only 12,3 % of the songwriters are females, 3% are audio/mix engineers and 2,1 % are producers. A lack of females in these fields affects the diversity of perspectives and musical expression represented in the music industry. I am a singer/ songwriter, engineer, and music producer. I’m a female voice and I believe that my perspective is needed. I think that I contribute with unique melodies and sounds and that my lyrics have angles that aren’t very apparent in today’s popular music. 

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

Yes! I’m releasing a song called Toxic Rain. Toxic Rain is a dystopian song portraying a horrific disaster with serious consequences for humans and the environment. It is a futuristic representation, but its origin from authentic feelings. 

The song started as a conversation about the climate crisis, politics and war. I felt a lot of conflicting and upset emotions and I had to make sense of my messy thoughts in a song. 

The name of the song, Toxic Rain, refers to the spread of nuclear particles onto the ground by rain. The song takes inspiration from historic events such as US detonation of nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and from the nuclear- power accident at Chernobyl. In the song I reflect over free will and group behaviour from the lens of evolutionary psychology. 

In the song I have implemented sound design, something I have become very passionate about the past year. I have used samples very intentionally in this song to amplify or give a sonic explanation when the lyrics is of a more abstract nature.

The music and lyrics are written by me but the production is made by my collaborative partner, the producer Sara Idani. I have mixed and mastered the song myself. 

What was the recording process like?

This song is mainly produced digitally and only the vocals are recorded. The recording process was nice and smooth. I had booked the studio an evening and me and my friend, Santi Barragan who is also a producer came around to help me. We work great together and have a good way of dividing task to make an effective recording session. I set up the microphone while Santi prepared the desk. Before the session I had communicated how I like recording, and this made the process in the studio very straightforward. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?

That I am extremely good at procrastinating…I wrote the lyrics and melody in one night. Then the song collected dust for years, I’m not exaggerating. Eventually recorded a demo and reached out and involved the producer Sara Idani. When the song was finished it took me another six months battling my inner critic before I decided to distribute it for release. 

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

I would have wanted my vocals to sound better and be more dynamic. We changed the key of the song and I initially thought it was a good idea, but realised when we had worked a bit too much with it that the key is quite uncomfortable for me.

I also have a few things in the mix I’m not completely satisfied with, but I’m learning and are cutting myself some slack there.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Be kind and compassionate with others and yourself. 

Other people’s reactions are usually more about them than about you ☺

If you have a dream, don’t wait for permission, make it happen!