Solo-artist Xzela has been making waves since she stepped onto the scene. Xzela transcribes her trials and tribulations into feathered melodies that float across soundscapes with ease; Blending R&B with soulful urban flare, she keeps an intimate yet powerful demeanor both on and off the stage.
Catch Xzela tomorrow on Women in Music Wednesdays with CincyMusic LIVE at 6p!
How did you get into the Cincinnati Music Scene?
I was out with friends one night and was talking about bands we liked, and how I was starting to get more active by playing music at home and starting to write songs. A bartender from The Drinkery ended up in the conversation and asked me if I wanted to play the following Sunday. I said yes and it went really well and I even played there the Sunday after that I believe. I remember getting paid for the first performance and being completely mind blown because I never expected that. I started out just doing acoustic covers. Around that time, I was outside of that same venue for the Talib Kweli, Audley, and Malcolm London show. I didn’t even know Audley at the time. But I was outside sitting down and singing and rapping to my friend Rachel, and Devin Burgess approached me and asked if I had any music out and I said no. I had never recorded anything since I didn’t know how, so he ended up inviting me to his studio to record the songs I had written and that’s how Monster, my debut mixtape, was born. From there, I started to find my sound and it just snowballed into more shows and more albums and has continued on ever since. I even learned how to use Ableton from watching Devin and now am engineering and recording a lot of my own stuff.
What can fans expect from a Live performance?
Fans can expect to feel my performances through my voice. I’ve been told quite a few times that my performances can get very emotional. I think that comes with the territory of writing your own songs, it’s like a public diary. They can also expect my performances to sound very similar to the studio tracks. Ever since I’ve done my own engineering, it’s just been essentially reverb and a little delay on the vocal tracks. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to pitch correct, so I’ll just do takes a million times over until it’s perfect. A backing track performance will sound much different than a full band performance. My demeanor changes a little bit as well when I’m with my band, because my confidence levels are boosted so much by sharing the stage with other people. When I linked up with my band, the sound of all the tracks shifted slightly and became much more dynamic. So band performances are definitely livelier than my backing track ones, in my opinion. But I give my all regardless of the situation and I hope that shows through to everyone
How have the past 6ish months been musically?
The past 5 months have actually been pretty grueling for me, musically speaking and in general. I burnt myself out a little bit by playing so many shows and releasing so much music, and putting too much pressure on myself to continue at that speed. So towards the end of 2018, I took a bit of a break to get my head together, and then I got pregnant and any motivation I was starting to regain vanished. So a couple month break turned into a couple years in the blink of an eye. I had my son in February, and then COVID started to get much worse, so dealing with that inner battle of the whether or not to even continue making music or just throw the towel in was tough for me. Ultimately, it’s just something I can’t give up and I ended up writing 2 songs and releasing them in a pretty lowkey manner as singles and that’s really helped me start to get back on track.
What is next for Xzela?
I am currently in the midst of writing for my next project! It’s going to be called “Sonder” and is still very much in the works but is looking to be about 9-12 tracks long and I’m aiming to have a feature on every track. It’s very airy, bouncy, and reflective. I love collaborating with other artists, and now that I can record my verses at home it’s become much easier to do so. I’m trying to avoid pressuring myself for a release date, but I’m hoping for either Spring or Autumn of 2021. It’s definitely a cool weather, windows down type of album so I want it to fit the season for sure.
How to support Xzela: