Xylo Aria InterviewPosted on 21st January 2024
Xylo Aria is a singer, producer, entrepreneur born in India and based in Australia. She is the founder of online learning platform, Music Production for Women (MPW), through which she is determined to break down the barriers women face when approaching music tech.
We’ve been enjoying your music at Devious Machines towers, especially your latest single “Fighter Plane” – can you tell us more about the story of the song and how it came about?
This song was actually first written in 2019 when I was living in the UK and there was one of the worst Australian bush-fires in history happening at home. I remember seeing so many photos of firefighters putting themselves on the line and couldn’t help putting myself in the shoes of their families, not knowing if their loved one will be coming home at the end of their work shift.
This thought sparked the song Fighter Plane, which is written from the perspective of a family member of a Firefighter. The song has a few elements of symbolism in the sounds chosen, such as an unanswered phone call in a house that’s been abandoned. It ends with the sound of someone walking through ash and birds chirping to symbolise new, positive beginnings after catastrophic events.
You founded Music Production for Women (MPW) in 2019. Can you explain to us the original inspiration behind the organisation, and any tips on where to start for those interested in finding out more about this side of your work?
I started my career in music as a singer-songwriter and only had the option of working with male producers. Sadly, I had quite a few negative experiences as a result of these collaborations which led me to the decision to take production into my own hands. This learning process was quite lonely and I often felt like the odd person out of technical conversations. However, getting to the point where I could finally produce my own music was a huge game changer that I felt compelled to share with as many other women as possible! This was the original inspiration behind music production for women. We are a teaching platform that empowers women and gender minorities to produce their own music and have lots of free events throughout the year to help people get started – see our website for more details.
What advice would you give established musicians and producers, especially men, who want to do more to support under-represented artists, but are not sure how to go about this?
I don’t know if I have an excellent answer for this as the issue is so overarching and stems from an ingrained culture in the music industry but I would say to treat every woman that you are working with with the same respect that you would with say your mother or your sister. Also might be crude, but don’t hit on your collaborators! Haha. I want to also share a really well made video (created by a man) on this topic that I think everyone should watch: link here
We’d love some insights into your writing and production processes, are there any particular tools or techniques you’d like to share with us that have worked for you recently?
For me it often varies with every song and sometimes I will be inspired by a beautiful sample that I have found or start off with a song idea based on a book I’ve read recently. Production tools wise I like to keep it fairly simple. Without even trying to plug Devious Machines I have to honestly say I have been using Duck and Pitch Monster loads. Whenever a melodic line sounds a bit boring or needs a bit of movement I feel like Duck is a great go to to add some interest. Also being a vocalist, I often love using my vocals as an instrument and using pitch monster, especially on the backing vocals and doubles, gives my vocals a much more full sound and more elements to play with.
You’ve been self-producing and releasing your own music for a while now, would you always recommend this approach to other artists, especially those starting out?
This is quite a tough question to answer because as an independent artist you do have way too much work to do! The benefit is definitely the flexibility and the full control and ownership of your projects. It can however be a tiring process. I always feel though, in music and in life in general, you would rather be working on your own compared to working with the wrong people. I’ve heard lots of negative stories with relation to labels and managers and haven’t come across someone who fits my vision so I felt a better option for me was to contract people as and when I needed them on projects rather than having any overarching agreements in place. Perhaps there are better ways of doing it but that’s what I’ve gone for!
What’s up next for Xylo Aria and MPW as we head into 2024, and what’s the best way we can keep up to date on all of your activities?
For MPW we have some very exciting plans coming up for 2024, the biggest one being our first ever US tour of free music production workshop events in July! We are also launching a Year 2 program which follows on from our flagship Master Your Music, one-year program for the first time this year.
For Xylo Aria, my focus this year is on playing more live shows as I have been quiet on this front in the last few years and also on releasing my debut album!
You can find more on Xylo and Music Production for Women on the links below: