By Olisa Jr
MSM meets rising British star BXKS ahead of the release of her new mixtape Hack The Planet. Donning a new sound this time, the young artist from Lutton artistically crafts an experimental body of work in a successful attempt to musically explore her Jamaican heritage, while still giving her listeners the expected BXKS as she entwines UK dancehall and rap; filled with upbeat rhythms, gripping lyricism, and the ever-growing sense of self-inspiring aura.
Hey, how’s it going?
BXKS: It’s going alright you know? A bit tired, but not too bad. Right now, I think I’m excited about dropping this new music because this tape sounds really different from the one I dropped before.
Let’s start with your latest single Bones To Pick — you’ve talked about fusing dancehall sounds in an attempt to explore your roots through your music, and getting the chance to listen to it, it’s certainly different from your previous work. Talk me through the creative process of the song?
BXKS: The process of making the song was actually really fun. We made the beat from scratch, and Samo produced the beat with Idntmttr. At the time, I wasn’t really thinking it was going to sound like dancehall, in regards to how I’d be speaking. I just thought I’d be rapping on it, but because the beat did sound so much like UK Dancehall, it just kind of happened.
Would you say the new sound is something we’ll continue to see in your upcoming work?
BXKS: No. I like to do different things, and I think I also just wanted to create one song that showed that I could be versatile, ‘cause on the mixtape too, all the songs are sort of different.
Is there any singular moment from your childhood that you feel led you to pick up the mic?
BXKS: Kind of, I think. When I was younger, I grew up in church and was singing in the choir, so before anything, I thought I was going to be a singer. But, I started smoking, and my voice can’t really do that anymore. I had to start rapping instead, and I didn’t really start taking music seriously up until my teens. I think also doing freestyles in the car with my friends is what made me really want to go to the studio.
I had the chance to listen to some of the songs on the upcoming mixtape, and I’ve got to say that I really do love what you've done. I think from the instruments to the vocals, from the subjects to rhythm, it’s all amazing. Something that really stood out for me was how the sounds were layered on 4DaKidz…
BXKS: That’s probably one of my favourite songs, and it’s actually a freestyle. I made that song around the same time as Full Time Daydreamer, but it just didn’t make sense to go on that tape, so we decided to keep it for the next one. Though the process was actually pretty quick. The first time I met with the producer, I went into the studio and spat it, and then we kept it for a while again because I felt it needed some more stuff. So we added Tom Henry, playing the violins and the piano close to the end.
Which would you say is your favourite song on the mixtape? Why?
BXKS: I would definitely say 4daKidz is up there with my top three. I think, for me, my tops would probably be that one, L.U.V, Swish, and 3.2.1. I think purely because they come off as an evolution of Packed In, but they still have that kind of Grimy essence to it.
How’d you decide on the name for the mixtape?
BXKS: We already had the name while I was making the first one, ‘cause I figured after I made the last one, something was going to come after, so I might as well think of it now.
You’ve got only one feature on your mixtape with Oscar Worldpeace — what was it like working with him? And what impacted that decision [having him as the only feature]?
BXKS: To be honest, I’m not really a features person. Like on my last tape [Full Time Daydreamer], I really wanted Kish! on there because I just knew he would work for that last song. And for this one, I’ve always wanted Oscar because, firstly, the person that made the bit was a producer of his, and I thought he would sound good on it. We didn’t even record it together. I sent it over and just asked if he would like to be on it. It was a very quick and natural exchange.
With each song, you touch on a whole lot of subjects, each with very different levels of seriousness and emotional weight, if I might say. Is there a singular story you’re trying to tell with this mixtape?
BXKS: Not really, no. I’d say maybe with the first one, there was more of a storyline. With this one, it’s really just a collective of different sounds that I’ve put together, which is also why I called it Hack The Planet. And I’ll add that I picked each one for certain reasons, because I’d want a song that can be played in the club or at motives, in your car or by yourself, or at the gym. It’s an experimental tape, but I also don’t think the next tape would have a storyline. Maybe that comes when I decide to do an album.
When you sit down to make music, what do you do first?
BXKS: [laughs] Honestly I just hope for the best, and hope that I don’t get writer’s block, is exactly what I do, because there’s really no other plan when I get in there. It’s also always down to the beat as well, and the relationship between myself and the producer. We’ve got to work together, so I can give the best song I can give.
What are you excited about most?
BXKS: In regards to this mixtape, I just hope that it’s received how the last one was. The last one was received so well because it was also my first body of work. I just don’t want people to not take it in, because I feel like when you also become an artist, people tend to see it as well we already know he or she can make music, so it’s just another drop. And I think for next year, I’ll definitely be working on more singles, and also moving out of the cartoon covers to the more serious stuff, I guess.
Photography: Chelsea Nawanga
Styling: Nadya Maki