Part 1

Name: Xana
Nationality: Canadian
Occupations: Singer, songwriter
Current event: Xana's debut album Tantrums is out now.
Recommendations: I recently read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I don’t think ive ever been so obsessed with a book. The characters are written in ways that feel like they are real people, the story is so beautiful and touching. I finished it when I was on vacation in Mexico and I was ugly sobbing poolside. Read this book.

I Origins is one of my favorite movies. I don’t like to rewatch a lot of shows or movies but I Origins definitely makes the cut. It’s a beautifully made movie about spirituality, science, and reincarnation.

If you enjoyed this interview with Xana and would like to know more about her work and current tour dates, visit her official homepage. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I’ve always been strongly drawn to music, creating and performing. When I was little I would put on little performances for my family and always be singing and dancing.

Avril Lavigne was my first musical love, I wanted to be everything she was: badass, loud, probably the coolest girl I’ve ever laid my 6 year old eyes on. When I was in middle school, I heard "Tear drops on my guitar" by Taylor Swift on the radio and she forever influenced the direction I went in music. Before her I didn’t really know a lot of artist that wrote their own music, because that didn’t seem so popular in early 2000s pop music scene. At least, not that my 10 year old self was aware of. So that’s when I started writing my own songs.

In 2018, it finally felt like the perfect time to dive into the deep end with my music career. I bought logic and locked myself in my room, writing and whipping up some make-shift demos. The following year I was put in contact with Liam Moes and Shane Stephenson, music producers and audio engineers from Vancouver, and we got to work at the very beginning of 2020. I felt like I had been waiting my entire life to get in that studio and bring these songs to life.

I quickly learned that creating music was way more magical and euphoric than I ever expected it to be, and I truly depend on the craft. It’s my therapy, my identity, my expression, my purpose - I fear how completely lost I would be without it. music is my one true love.

Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?

I’ve always been a very visual person and for as long as I remembered I would always make up little music videos in my head for the music I was listening to, and that’s usually connected to some kind of emotion the music brings out in me. Now when I’m writing my own music, sometimes I already have a music video in my head. Sometimes it comes during the recording and production process, but regardless music is very visual to me.

I usually have colours based on the emotion that I associate with my music, and music video production is just as important to me as the actual song production, in terms of delivering the full story and piece.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

Throughout the making on my album Tantrums, I really pushed myself to try new things and abandon my comfort zone. I thought to myself: “If this is the only album I write, make it the best one I possibly can in this moment.”

"Cupid" was the second song from the album that I recorded and I had a very unique experience with the creating of that song. As corny as it sounds, it felt as if there was some transcendental energy I was tapping into throughout the entire process, but especially when initially writing the lyrics and melody. Although I was the only person in the room that day, I don’t feel like I wrote that song alone. When it came to recording the vocals, I pushed myself and sang in ways I never had before that day, which ultimately led to exploring how else I could use my voice, discovering new abilities, facets and characters that I didn't even know existed in me.

I think this album would have been very very different if I hadn’t written "Cupid". It was the first song of mine that made me feel like an artist and it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

To me, being a queer female artist means being the kind of representation in music and media that I needed when I was a kid. If I had artists like myself growing up, I would have discovered a lot more about who I am at an earlier age, resulting in me surrounding myself with people who understood me, avoiding putting myself in situations I thought I was supposed to be in, avoiding the trauma that resulted from those situations, etc.

When you know who you are and what you stand for, you have a stronger voice for yourself and for those around you who don’t yet. Which is what I do with my music.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

Being honest and vulnerable, expressing my emotions, moods and imagination, and creating something that can (hopefully) help someone else, whether that be feeling empowered, feeling more pride and confidence in who they are, or even just reassurance that they aren’t alone in their feelings or heartbreak.

The purpose of music and art, in my opinion, is to connect with other people and create a sense of togetherness despite all the madness in this world we live. As long as I create something that makes people FEEL, I’m happy.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I draw on influences from the past as I work to create and develop my own voice. I enjoy incorporating a timeless / nostalgic component with a newer, more experimental or modern sound, I think it’s very satisfying for both the artist and the listener.

I do often wonder about what pop music will sound like 20 years from now and I try to imagine what it could possibly be like. I’ll let you know in 20 years.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

So far in my career, the very beginning process of song creation is just my voice and my minimal guitar or piano skills. There’s been a few times where I’ve found a loop or some kind of sound that instantly stirs something in me and I write to that, but usually the tools are very minimal and I can hear how I want the sonic landscape to sound in my head.

I’m usually a lyrics first kind of gal, I try to say everything I want to say the best way I can and then match it with the music. but there’s no one way to make music, and there’s definitely other ways I want to explore going forward. I try to go with the flow and let the song pull me in whatever direction it pleases.

When I’m feeling stuck or blocked, I’ve learned to just let it breathe and the songs that are meant to be created will find their way to me one way or another. sometimes it’s minutes, days or even months. no one song is the same and that’s what makes them all so special to me.

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