INTERVIEW: MXYM | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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MXYM is a lot of things. Goth, indie, emo, Queer, musician, singer, producer, witch – there’s a lot of labels he identifies with. Since 2017, this 23-year-old singer-songwriter has been putting out music that defies classification and expectation. From the melancholic piano ballad Edinburgh, to the grimy electronic hooks of Hard Drive, MXYM has come to represent a whole lot of things. This journey of identity and understanding began a while ago…

I started writing songs in Year 8, but I couldn’t play any instruments. I was just writing terrible poetry. After college came that weird phase of, ‘What do with my life? Do I want to do the thing that I want to do, or do I succumb to capitalism?’ I decided to do what I wanted to do. Two months after I finished college I started learning guitar and immediately started releasing music. Which is a terrible idea, but I did it anyway…”

As his career progressed, MXYM found his feet as a songwriter. “My writing got more introspective. When you start to come to terms with yourself, it’s more of an inside battle at first. Dealing with your own inner demons is a bit more complex than, ‘I didn’t get a message back on MSN, what am I gonna do?!’

The exploration of identity is a frequent source of inspiration for many artists, but since heteronormativity permeates every aspect of our society, coming to terms with potentially deviating from this ‘norm’ is bound to throw up some thoughts. MXYM’s newest single, the vibrant glam rock aria Sixteen, is a hard look at early, unrequited love. 

Dealing with your own inner demons is a bit more complex than, ‘I didn’t get a message back on MSN, what am I gonna do?!’

Sixteen is about when something in your life happens that changes who you are and your relationship to other people. This is someone who has done something that has affected my way of life. You might think this person is ‘the one’, but they’re not. It’s figuring out how you can move on from them, because otherwise you’re going to take that into every other relationship you’re in.”

Introspective writing leads to honest, vulnerable content that gives the listener no choice but to emotionally invest. This is might be a Queer person talking about their Queer experiences, yet the universality of these themes set to genre-busting music makes MXYM’s work truly accessible.

My dad listens to classic rock religiously. From my mum, I got musicals and the weird music you get on Top of the Pops 1982…And I love musical theatre. My favourite artist is Marilyn Manson – he’s not a Queer person and does not make Queer music, but he has a big Queer fanbase because he feels welcoming to the culture with the way he plays with gender and sexuality. I just like big figures who do big art. Madonna’s Ray of Light, [Bowie’s] Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane: that combining of music and art inherently has some level of Queer to it, and it’s that natural coalition I’ve always been drawn to.”

MXYM is perhaps best described as an art project. Every release plays into an anthological aesthetic, which will hopefully one day form their own ‘gallery’ of music and imagery. MXYM’s interesting, unique catalogue makes it easy to forget he is but one person doing what he loves. But, if there’s one thing that remains constant across this genre-spanning discography, it’s honesty. MXYM’s music carries relatability and understanding which transcends identity itself.

MXYM releases Sixteen on Monday 6th April

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