By Alice Hingley
Lacing his way through alternative hip-hop, digicore and hyper pop, midwxst’s genre-defying beats are taking over the underground scene. The Indiana teen is making waves. His new EP ‘BACK IN ACTION’ dropped last week, and MSM was lucky enough to catch him for a chat.
Despite speaking to us from the other side of the Atlantic, midwxst’s charisma and humour radiates through the screen, combined with his contagious enthusiasm. He isn't afraid to be unapologetically himself, exhibiting a determination to change the discourse surrounding trappers. Our conversation flowed between a variety of topics, from mental health to the future of the SoundCloud community to how anime inspired the creation of his visuals.
Let’s start by talking about the EP, it's called 'BACK IN ACTION'. What inspired this name choice?
I went MIA for a really long period of time, music wise, just, like, a limbo between ‘Trying’ and ‘SUMMER03’. when I started dropping music again, it's like I'm getting back on track, getting back in action. I had to get more adjusted to doing actual releases, instead of it being just me on my own. But it's just getting back to my roots making hard ass music. These are songs that are made for live concerts more than anything.
You've been doing quite a bit of collaboration, especially on this EP. What do you think is the key to successfully collaborating with another creative?
To me, it’s how the song turns out, if it matches the vision that I want to go for originally. But, if I go into a session and they only want to play me hyper pop beats, like I'm not an artist in my own right, then I'm really not going to be able to respect them as much because they’re just limiting me to one category.
This new EP has a lot of different sounds and in this last release that you're really developing as an artist. Where do you think the inspiration came from?
All over the place. I wanted to have mosh pit music that could allow me to establish the stage persona, to have parts of the songs where it's catchy enough so that the crowd can sing with me, and get that crowd interaction... that's a big part for me. I also like really aggressive shit, - I'm talking my shit. It's an entirely different side of me because I'm actually proud of my achievements, as a person, and as an artist. I want people to understand that instead of thinking that I'm always the sad singing Indiana boy who makes hyper pop music - there's more to me than that.
Your music videos are very visually stimulating. Would you say that a lot of your creativity originated from cartoons and media you watched when you were younger?
Yes sir! I grew up watching Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nickelodeon, Nick at Night, Nicktoons, Disney XD... I could go on for fricking ever. I just always grew up watching something animated on TV -it’s all stuff that inspires me. I started watching anime, and I wanted to pay homage to that stuff because it brought me up. I know a lot of black kids who are big anime fans, so I'm gonna give as many nods as I can.
You can definitely see that love coming through, cartoons are an exciting world and usually have a cool message too. The ‘All Talk’ music video has a bit of a cliffhanger ending, can we expect to see an alternate universe appearing in your future creative content?
I really want to establish a character for some of my next videos. Kind of like how you had Igor for Tyler's album, you had Wolf Haley for the Goblin roll out with the ski mask and the Supreme hoodie. The red and black suit and the glasses from The Weeknd. I want to be able to have that, I want to be able to start connecting my stories and stuff so I might throw some easter eggs in.
You're at college at the minute, on the album you speak about high school not being the best time for you, how does college life compare?
Nothing but good things have happened over here so far. There's so many people who think the same way I think, love music to the extent that I love music, all of those things and it's just really provided a really cool outlook and experience for me.
‘All Talk’ is you committing to being yourself and not buying into fake culture. Is this a reflection of your life right now?
I've had a lot of people who said that they wish me the best and then do so many things behind my back.I’ve really only got eight friends who I actually truly trust and call my friends. it's petty as hell out here, some people just don't want to see you win, especially if you're in a better position.
I think there's a lot of people that will always try to tear you down, the internet has had a big effect on that. It gives a lot of people a lot of places to hide, what's your take on the internet and clout culture?
If you gate-keep an artist, you don't really care for the artist. I’d rather share my platform with my community and bring that community together, than gate-keep and do certain things simply just keep an artist at the same level that they're at.
I know that SoundCloud was a really good community for you starting out and that was a place that you sort of found a lot of comfort in. How does it feel to be one of the bigger artists coming out that platform that's meant a lot to you?
Makes me happy, really happy. SoundCloud was one of the first musical platforms I downloaded as a kid, and to end up being in a documentary by them...That shit actually really made my day because I used to be so self conscious about constantly comparing and criticising myself rather than focusing on myself and making stuff that I want to make.
The last year has been pretty crazy, what's your highlight?
Oh my god that's hard. Probably having ‘Trying’ get recieved so well. That song meant a lot to me. Still does. That song means a lot because it was the song that took me to the place I'm at right now. That song is one of the reasons I'm having this interview right now.It really meant a lot for me personally, but also seeing that my music can impact so many people. My dad goes to the YouTube comments on ‘Trying’ and he looks at them. He's like:
“Did you get back to that one kid's comment? He said he likes your music!”
In your lyrics, you're so open with your struggles in the past and issues of mental health. Is that something that you do intentionally, are you hoping it will inspire audiences all to do the same and get more open with their feelings?
I’m really hoping that kids can feel more comfortable talking about those things. It doesn’t have to be with your parents, it just has to be with a friend. Like if something's happening in your life, you don't gotta keep it quiet all the way.
If you had to just boil down the future of midwxst what you got the next year of releases and stuff into three words. How would you describe it?
You aren't ready.
After this EP alone. It's just gonna be me going not even back to my roots, but just making the type of music that some people have been wanting me to make for a minute, just going back to the shit that brought me up.
That sounds exciting, can we expect any ventures into the world of fashion?
Yes. I've been working like I've been really brainstorming and coming up with a lot of things and ideas. Just a matter of executing them and putting them on paper at this point.
midwxst’s EP ‘BACK IN ACTION’ is available now on streaming services. His US Tour kicks off next month.