XNilo discusses with TheBerlinClub his highs & lows in the music industry & in life. The grind & perseverance has reaped the reward of being signed, with a big future ahead for the artist who crosses multiple genres.
5 minute read
Interview: Sam // Words: Ollie
“You have to know what you want & be able to tell others…”
Hailing from a Spanish island with British parents, talented musician XNilo discusses the journey to his present-day career, his unique sound, battling personal struggles & his excitement for the future.
“If you don’t know what you want, you might get taken advantage of. It is an important life skill” he continues.
From Nothing. //
“I was born out in Spain & studied in Spanish school. My mum is from Kent & my dad is from the north of England. I therefore speak English & Spanish. I have always been in to music…there are pictures of me when I was 1 or 2 with a mic in my hand. My dad is a guitarist, which also helped me get in to it. I used to go & watch him until I was old enough to do it myself” explains XNilo, whose non-performing name is Luke.
Continuing, he adds, “I started writing & composing music when I was 13. My mum got diagnosed with breast cancer, so I used music as a gateway to escape. I have learned that music is the only way I can express myself, because I am a quiet & humble person”.
Luke’s mum fortunately made a recovery, but the musical genie was now fully out the box & a few years later, the Soul / Hip-Hop / Trap / Reggaeton vocalist & producer found himself flying out to the US seeking to transform his pastime into a full-time job. He explains, “I went out to live in the States for 3 months. I was in Atlanta working with different producers & I also spent time with the vocal coach for Justin Bieber. Unfortunately, whilst the time out there was valuable, it was short lived & didn’t go to plan as nothing came of it”.
The Comeback. //
Following that early impediment, Luke found himself back in Spain & eventually in the UK working on his own material, but not after a difficult period of reconciliation with himself. “It was hard being knocked back as a young person, it really hit my confidence, so I went in to my shell for a bit. I came away from social media & took a year off from music. I loved inspiring people, but I didn’t know how to inspire when I didn’t feel that way myself” he says.
Detailing his return, Luke articulates: “I started back properly a year or so later after I was asked to work on some music for a documentary about the world’s number 1 freestyle footballer. After being in Spain for a while, I eventually moved over to the UK full time & started trying out different styles. A couple of years ago, I had my first meeting with a big record label. Originally, they were going to sign me on a single deal, but I went away, wrote a bundle of music & then when they heard that, they signed me properly!”.
The creative flair which is evident in his music is clearly matched with a savvy, hardworking approach to managing his career. When asked what drove him to lock himself away & produce lots of music in a condensed period for the label’s ear, Luke states: “I just didn’t want to leave it to chance. It was my first big opportunity since I had my setback in the States. That low gave me the motivation to work really hard & ensure I didn’t let the chance slip away”.
The Bumpy Road To Success. //
Having reached the prized goal for any upcoming artist of being signed to an influential label, Luke has since gone on to build his brand.
“I have just released a couple of tracks & I have a mixtape coming out this year which is exciting. This is the first time I have ever put music out properly, despite being involved in the game for years. It’s all very new!” he exclaims.
Despite being seemingly on the cusp of stardom, Luke is keen to stress the hurdles he has had & still faces: “Life in general can be tough, it’s not just the music industry. I have had anxiety & been in hospital over it. I have also had friends & family members suffer mental health issues too – one of my friends unfortunately took her own life”.
Luke also explains how the pressures of being in the public eye as a modern artist can have an impact: “Social media can be good & bad. As an artist, there is a lot of demand from management about what you post. You must constantly push your music & yourself out there if you want to get somewhere, which can be hard if you are naturally shy like me. Due to using social media a lot for this purpose, it means you are also exposed to seeing people portray the perfect life constantly on the one hand & on the other, people ripping in to you with mean comments. That much exposure doesn’t help”.
Notwithstanding these obstacles, Luke overall cuts an optimistic tone about life in the music scene: “As long as there are more highs than lows, it is okay. You also need the lows to appreciate the highs. For example, getting Radio 1 support on my first two tracks was a bigger moment for having gone through the tough times!”.
Looking To The Future. //
With so much of his career still to be carved out, Luke is understandably excited for the future. Speaking on his ambitions, he says: “My main aim is to get my music out there & be recognised. Recently, I was out & my song was being played. Funnily enough I didn’t notice myself, but my friend mentioned it & it was a special feeling. Releasing music is still quite new to me, so everything is quite positive & exciting right now. At this moment, I just want to see where it takes me”.
With a mixtape to come, anticipation for the musician’s future continues to build. Clarifying what we should expect, Luke says: “The mixtape I recorded is talking about a few different situations such as the impact of social media on modern life & relationships not going to plan. I try to make personal but relatable music”.
Creating personal & relatable music naturally involves lyrics you can empathise with, but Luke insists his interests also lie heavily in the melodic undertones: “The lyrics are important, but the melody is the hook that gets you to remember a song, so I do put a lot of importance on that. On the mixtape, I usually got the instrumentals & vibe of the track down first & then sang what sounded right over the top”.
Summarising his outlook, Luke adds: “It’s all grown organically to this point. I started out just making videos & covers. Being signed didn’t happen overnight, so I am keen not to stress too much about the future”.
Offering advice to other up & coming artists at the end of the interview, Luke says: “It’s not for everyone. You need to feel secure in yourself before you even think about pursuing it as a career. If you are unsure in yourself, other people will see it, so even if you feel that, you cannot show it. All the limelight, interviews, meeting people & scrutiny – it’s something you really have to consider”.
With his journey still to bloom, XNilo is an artist with a wise head on young shoulders, whose unique experiences in Spain, the UK & the US will surely fuel his pending success.
XNilo’s new single ‘Your Way ft Etta Bond’ is out now
Follow XNilo @xnilo