MXXWLL and Kaiit interview each other, celebrate new album SHEEESH
The two musicians - both specialising in their own, elite tiers of hip-hop and R&B's many sounds - find themselves come together.
In many ways, it's difficult to see the similarities between MXXWLL and Kaiit. The Sydney-based former name, for starters, lives a few thousand kilometres from the Melbourne-residing Kaiit, and as a result, their respective sounds are distinct to that of each city's signature stylings. Across the last few years, MXXWLL has emerged as a fresh face in hip-hop’s most contemporary and US-inspired sounds, channeling the movements US g-funk (among others) despite being a mere 13,000 kilometres from the sound’s epicenter. Kaiit, meanwhile, is synonymous with Australia’s distinct touch on R&B and soul; the esteemed musician being one of the first female musicians - alongside close friend Sampa The Great, in the same year - to win an ARIA Award within the ‘urban’ category (which itself, needs a full makeover).
Nevertheless, the pair are somehow remarkably alike - and that’s something that shows when the two meet on MXXWLL’s new track, ROLLITUP. Taken from the Sydney producer’s debut record SHEEESH! (which we’ll get to in a short moment), ROLLITUP brings both MXXWLL and Kaiit at their respective peaks, blends them together, and comes out the other side with something distinctive of both of them, yet apart from the rest of their respective discographies.
Similar to much of SHEEESH!’s musical backbone, ROLLITUP is rooted with the notorious G-funk sound synonymous with hip-hop’s early explosion; a smattering of synth and rolling basslines forming the underlay of the track which feels like a far stretch from the typically more woozy and subtle stylings of Kaiit’s production. Kaiit, however, is no amateur, and takes control of the beat and spins it into somewhat of a cross-genre dream, lush with the rich lyricism that we’ve come to expect from a musician amongst the country’s best.
“Kaiit and I wrote this hook for a track which we both vibed on but never ended up finishing,” says MXXWLL on the track, somewhat of a cornerstone of his new album that also features TDE rapper SiR, Aloe Blacc, the cult-adored Guapdad 4000 and more. “A couple years later I was working on an idea for the album and I ended up chopping the hook up into words and making a new hook from it. I love samply sounding music so what I vibe most about this track is that it still sounds sampled, but it’s a sample of ourselves. It has a tonne of nostalgia and good vibes for me. Kaiit is the homie too, so I'm stoked to have this one come out.”
There’s something really special in this collaborative partnership. While collaborations can often fall flat - it’s so obvious when a collaboration is built from A&Rs, rather than a genuine mutual appreciation of each other’s work and the stylings that build them - MXXWLL and Kaiit transcend this. It’s clear there’s something there - it just works.
To celebrate the collaboration’s release with the greater SHEEESH! record today, read an interview between MXXWLL and Kaiit below, who dive into the album’s creation, writers block, childhood aspirations and tonnes more. It’s the perfect written accompaniment to the track, and shows just how close the pair have come in the time since ROLLITUP’s creation, which you can also dive into below:
Kaiit interviews MXXWLL:
1. Ooooold mate!!! It’s been such a pleasure being your peer and being able to sonically and physically watch you grow! Now let’s talk about dis project!! What do you feel is the biggest thing you learnt about yourself whilst creating this latest body of work?
Oh damnnn coming in strong with the big Q’s haha. Man I learnt a lot while creating this album as I’m sure every artist does when making a body of work. It’s a really confronting space working on a project to release, you gotta just put it all on the table and hope people vibe with it. I learnt not to take all of this for granted. I’d created all these expectations of what I assumed people would want to hear and it felt so restricting even though it was all in my own head. I think the biggest thing I learnt was to just get out of my own way and make the music I wanted to make.
2.Now... I’m lucky enough to have gotten that TOP TOP secret link to the project before release, I’ve got my favs but what’s your top 3?
They all mean different things to me in their own ways. I think every day I have new favourites depending on the mood I’m in. Right now, I’d say I’m vibing on WOAH, RNRN and ROLLITUP!.
3. Like you brought up before on writer's block, I wanna know… Do you reckon it’s the same with being a producer? Does it come to you often? And if so, how do you deal with it?
Yeah for sure as a producer, writer's block can get real. I think it comes mainly when I feel like I’m second guessing my own ideas. Like sometimes I’ll feel like I’m not pushing boundaries as much as I’d like and if it's been a while between putting out music, it can breed a whole bunch of self-doubt. It sounds so basic but even just having a shower or making your space look fly can help heaps, also as a musician who spends a lot of time at a desk in my home each day, taking time to get outside and refuel can make all the difference.
4. I know what it’s like creating, let alone a whole body of work like this. It’s stressful bruh!!! How did you feel your mental health was during the process of this project? Was there things you did or support you could rely on other than yourself?
For sure, it can be a really turbulent process.. some days my thoughts were “This is dope.. I’m killing this shit” and the next day they could be like “wtf am I doing.. everything I’m making is whack”. It’s a strange time because it’s really not my normal demeanor but when you're in a creative space it tends to bring out your vulnerabilities. I was lucky enough to have my fiancé, Tammy to help me through the bad days and all my family and homies are so supportive and genuine which is a blessing. Even if they didn’t know anything was up, they made all the difference.
5. Is there a track on the project that hits a spot for you or has a story you wanna share?
Mann it’s a really weird pick but PLAYER 1 START hits a real spot for me. I was studying how they made the music for the old Gameboy games and limited myself to only using that sound chip to emulate drums and bass instruments etc. It was a real nerdy one for me and really challenged me to think outside the box.
6. I see you jet setter, catching your flights to LA or whateverrr! Did you feel going to the states helped your process? Motivated it? Was essential to thi project?
Yeah definitely. I had a particular sound I was trying to capture for this record and a lot of the inspiration stemmed from listening to G funk, hip hop and soul-R&B music so it made sense to go and be amongst it all for this project. When I’m home in Sydney, I feel like we have elements of that scene but you have to really look, whereas over in LA it’s everywhere, even walking down the street and having lowriders driving by pumping classic jams gives mad inspiration, you're like grabbing shazam out tryna capture that shit
7. Our artistries differ a lil in the instruments we use to perform with but we all start with a demo. What do you feel is usually the first thing you lay down on a track?
This changes each time but I’d say usually drums first and then chords and then bass. But sometimes I’ll start with chords first depending on what I’m tryna capture at that time. Also sometimes chucking a track into a sampler can spark crazy ideas but most often it’s the drums first.
8. Now what I wanna know is, did MXWLL always know he was gonna be a beat wizard or did he have other plans?
Coming from a super musical household, I started playing around with instruments when I was pretty young but I actually wanted to be a storm chaser in the early days, I thought tornadoes were so dope haha. Then in my teenage years I wanted to be a pro skater. I was pretty decent at it too but then I saw my homie damn near snap his arm in half so I was like oohhhh shit nah. During these times music was always the constant, I would always be making bootleg remixes and chopping up beats so coming back to it felt right and I’ve been at it ever since.
9. As a creative yourself, is there one piece of advice you’d like to give to anyone that is working with or wanting to work with creatives?
Stay humble and keep learning, don’t assume there’s only one way to do things. Be flexible and open to ideas and growth, collaborating with other creatives. Surround yourself with positive people and treat others right, it’s as much about people as it is about music.
10. Alright MXXWLL last one, I want you to manifest something right now! Speak it into existence! What do you feel is going to be your biggest accomplishment within the next 2 years?
Putting out another album. SHEEESH! is dropping almost 3 years after Beats Vol 1 and knowing that gap was there added a lot of pressure. I want to push myself to release more frequently so I can really enjoy and thrive in the process. Would love to do a world tour and hey, shiiittt if we’re manifesting, I wanna blaze one with Snoop, that would be dope too..
MXXWLL interviews Kaiit:
1. Congrats on the ARIA award mane! Miss Shiney is one of my all time fav joints.. how did this track come to light?
You’re the sweetest homie! Miss Shiney came to me at a time where I was in full writers block. This was after OG Luv Kush p.2 came out and she was (thankfully) receiving a lot of love and this freaked me tf out! I didn’t think I could do anything better than it. Leaving home for a lil bit and going back tomy other home (Papua New Guinea) which had no internet NOTHING! That’s truly what I believe helped in the creation of Miss Shiney…Ooooh and the fire beat by Uno Stereo and 18yroldman.
2. Australian Hiphop/Rnb has changed a lot over the last few years.. who are some of the new wave of artists you’re vibing atm?
It feels like the list of new artists I like keep growing but some favs at the moment include Jaydean, $avage The Girl, Agung Mango, That Kid Maz and A.girl! All local upcoming names I’m so excited for!
3. Which song of yours was the quickest to finish, and which one took the longest?
I reckon OG p.2 was the quickest track to punch out. I can’t think of a song in particular that took ages but writing 2nd verses always takes me a lil longer.
4. Did you have any childhood career aspirations outside of music? Or is music pretty much what you always saw yourself doing?
Honestly, I’ve always wanted to sing. Getting to the end of high school was a bit hard because the teachers didn’t take me singing as a career too seriously so I felt mad lost for ages! Left high school and furthered my studies in makeup but music, my peers and community guided me to where I am now.
5. Writer’s block is fukd.. any advice for artists trying to overcome?
Writers block is the worst! What I’ve come to understand tho is, it comes from self. Self doubt, pressure from self and expecting to much from self. If you’re stuck on a track, move to a new one, come back to her later, change spaces, express your creativity in other ways and don’t always expect so much from self!
6. How many unfinished songs do you have on your computer? And if so… send me all the vocals haha… nah jks.. but srs :|
Honestly, Reading this triggers me! I’m constantly putting down voice memos for new melodies,harmony ideas, words that come to me, EVERYTHING! Deadass tho, the other week I went to Apple to get a new phone and it said the last time I had back-up'd my phone was 2018….
So essentially everything got wiped, voice notes and all but new memories and sounds are to be made and to be sent straight to your email old mate!
7. Whats the most random time you’ve heard your music being played out?
I was op shopping with my sissy Jaydean when we were touring in Europe last year. Whilst in Paris we walked into an op shop and what do you know…The track that was playing as we walked in sounded a lot like Miss Shiney haha! WE TRIPPPPPED TF OUT
8. If you could get in the lab with anyone who would it be and why?
Apart from being an absolute GOAT, I’m so in love with how Salaam talks using his music! From creating absolute classics, working with my beautiful Amy and truly iconic and oh so inspiring stories told thru sound! My ears are thankful! I been manifesting Salaam that Amy would go into one of Salaam’s dreams to tell him to send me some beats!
9. What’s the dream venue to perform at?
I’ve always wanted to perform at The Forum in Melbourne. I was thankful to be able to support The Internet when they came down but the next I perform there I want it to be my show! Something so magical and a lil spooky about The Forum that just intrigues me more every time.
10. What do you love most about being an artist?
What I think I love most about being an artist would have to be between performing live and being able to heal people thru my healing. Expressing myself and creating these words that form to songs heal me, support me and create safe for me. The fact that my music does the exact same thing forothers too??? No words, all feeling.
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