No matter where you are in the world the struggles and successes of the independent artist are quite the same. We recently came to know the rising conscious hip hop star Xersize from Sweden. We had the chance to sit down with him and get his perspective on the industry and where he plans to take his career next.
Enjoy the interview here:
First off, how did the name Xersize come to be?
I was around 8 or 9 years old when I wanted to play a game about gladiators. I wanted a cool sounding name so I thought of exercise, but since I was a little kid from Sweden I didn’t know how to spell it so I just went with it, and it’s actually stuck with me ever since.
How would you describe your sound?
Right now, very experimental. I’m trying a lot of different things to see what best fits me, but right now I’ve been writing a lot about real-life situations, feelings, etc. You know, very honest lyrics. As for the music, I’m trying a lot, with everything from pure boom bap to beats heavily inspired by hard rock.
Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?
Eminem for sure in a way, since he’s the first rap artist I heard and he’s influenced me a lot. But I try to draw inspirations from Nikki Sixxx and Fish as well with their poetic lyrics that can be both beautiful and sometimes hauntingly dark and broody at the same time.
Where do you get the inspiration for your introspective lyrics?
Usually from me feeling some kind of way or emotion, and I try my best to put it into words. It’s very therapeutic for me, I’ve always struggled with knowing my own feelings and emotions so it’s also a way for me to get to know myself better.
How does a full track come together for Xersize? What is your songwriting process?
I usually listen to a beat a few times to see if I can find a rhythm and flow to it and if it brings out a certain feeling. I often listen through a lot of beats, most of them multiple times, until I get in the right headspace for one of them. And then I just… Start writing. Once I begin it usually flows like water, it almost becomes automatic because I get so into it.
There seems to be a story in your recent song “Yellow Roses”. What can you tell us about it?
It is actually a tribute to my current girlfriend. Yellow roses are her favorite flower so that’s where the name comes from. We haven’t always had it easy, I haven’t always been easy to be with, but I have never been more in love or sure about my feelings for someone than with her, and I told her from the very moment that we started dating that if we’re together long enough there will probably be a song about her since I write about all of the significant things in my life. So I wrote that song as a little gift from me to her for the whole world to hear, and filled it with references to things I know are dear to her.
After dealing with both the music industry in your native Sweden as well as in America, what differences can you highlight?
Well, first of all, rap is very more prominent in the US. It’s more accepted in a way. Don’t get me wrong, the rap scene here in Sweden has blossomed over the past 10-20 years but it’s still a bit underground, and the type of rappers that go mainstream are either mumble rappers, fake gangsters or very pop-oriented, so nothing I really listen to. The industries pretty much function the same, at least what I’ve seen so far, but the biggest difference is that Sweden isn’t as accepting of rap, especially not conscious rap, in the same way as in the states, so it’s a lot harder to get booked for shows until you really make it big. Which, of course, makes it difficult to make it big in the first place. Very much a paradox.
What does the rest of 2020 hold for Xersize?
I’m working on my first, and probably only, album in Swedish that will be finished this year, so there’s that. I’ve only made songs in English before but I figured I’d make at least one album in my native tongue to help me gain an audience here in Sweden as well, and just a few days ago I made the decision to make the album even bigger than intended. So if you live in Sweden, look out for that. I’m also planning a few shows this year as well as some collaborations with some bigger American names, can’t say much more know because nothing is final yet. But that’s about it for my 2020 so far; the release of my second album that will be all in Swedish, more live shows and also some exclusive YouTube content so don’t miss that!