Interview with Marvelous Xe
SBS: Marvelous Xe! Welcome to our pages my friend, and thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your tunes with us! I’ve had a listen, I’ve had a look at those pages of yours as well – and I’m always stoked to learn more, however, I can. Let’s try to catch everyone up as best we can to start this out and attempt the impossible task of defining who ya are & what you’re all about – what’s made you into the artist you are today, and what separates you apart from the rest of what’s out there in music?
Marvelous Xe: Hola! I appreciate you sharing your time with me. The short answer is I’m first a healer and second a storyteller. I think the need for expressing concepts I see in the world through storytelling and having music be a tool for that is how we got here. We don’t create music based on genre, but on what the story calls for. I grew up in a musical family so it’s not hard to use this medium. If I was a better writer I would probably write books instead. But I’ve come to realize there is a gifting in the vocal cords of the women in my family.
SBS: According to the main site & your bio write-ups & whatnot, you’re proudly part of the “South Los Angeles renaissance” – that caught my attention right away. Not that I’d need to tell you I’m sure, but for those that don’t know, renaissance somewhat implies a resurgence…and if there’s a resurgence, that also implies that at some point in time…well…I suppose things weren’t surging at all! I’ve been to L.A. a couple of times…mostly just passing through or hitting up the tourist spots though – I wouldn’t say it’s a place where I really know the history, and certainly not as well as someone like yourself would, given that this is where you’re from & all. Tell us about this renaissance happening…does it apply specifically only to the South part of L.A.? What slowed its progress & what’s got you determined to help restore it?
Marvelous Xe: I’m going to deviate from the original question a bit. South L.A. has always been here. Always producing art, and culture the world emulates. What we are seeing right now is a new generation of artists and activists showing out and fighting for the community. Ben Caldwell in Leimert park has actively been organizing the community, fighting against gentrification. My goal this year is to collaborate with as many artists as I can to share in this familia. You can find more information @ https://www.instagram.com/kaosnetworkz
SBS: I’ve crossed paths with the 432Hz crowd before many times, and I’ll fully admit it – I think y’all are strange (lol) – but strange in a good way. It’s a facet of music that people are extremely passionate about…and though I understand the theory behind why that is, if I’m being honest, I’ve never really felt like it’s a frequency that’s managed to move me in any profound ways more-so than any other would or does…to me, music is music, if it’s good it’s good, and if it connects with us, even better. Passion for music of any kind is certainly something you’ll always find I’ve got love and support for, but that doesn’t mean I’m not heckin’ curious as to what it is I’m missing out on – why does it just seem like it’s the same to me? 432Hz, or any other Hz, I’m Hz’n for a reason that it should stand out more than the rest – help me fill in the gaps & educate me a bit here if you don’t mind Marvelous Xe – what is it that I’m missing?
Marvelous Xe: I wish I had a profound answer for you, but alas I do not. Brendan brought the idea to me when I was searching for a way to add a healing element to our music. I had never heard of it. I had just started studying Reiki and soon realized that not only am I not a hugger, I’m just not a toucher LOL, but I wanted to hug people with sound and thus the 432HZ came to be. I am interested in the power of frequencies. What can they do? How can we use them for healing? So we don’t limit it to just 432HZ. Experimentation is key for me, not the dogma. The key is to research and grow with the knowledge. If it feels good for you, dope! If it does nothing, cool. But for people who love it, it has a profound impact and for people who can’t hear the difference, they just enjoy the song. No-fuss no-muss.
SBS: I dig on contrast, I dig on juxtaposition too. You’re “bringing awareness, love, and vibrational peace” while tackling undeniably serious & heavy issues like “police brutality, black lives, and LGBTQIA issues” – so tell us about how you’re able to go about reconciling one with the other. Isn’t it supremely tough to provide peace of any kind when speaking out on important but unresolved issues still currently affecting our society, that tends to raise the emotional reactions of people on both sides of these issues?
Marvelous Xe: This is a very nuanced question and I’m not sure how to answer so follow me into my musings. There are people who don’t have the ability to be in the streets marching for change. Due to health, disability and immune-compromised folks etc., I found myself in this situation. Not wanting to stay home, but feeling helpless to help. Sure, I did what could when I couldn’t be in the streets but I had to ask myself a bigger question: “What is my role in the movement.” I journaled on this for quite some time. One day I heard the stats on how many community leaders died from suicide and other stress-related causes and I thought maybe there is a place for me here. So I thought I don’t know if there is something to this 432HZ calming/peaceful effect but, shit let’s try it. I emphasize creating to support those who support our communities.
SBS: How important do you consider it to be to use your platform to make a statement when making music, versus the entertainment factor? Is it possible for those scales to be balanced? Does that even matter? How crucial is the message you’re beaming out into the world, in comparison to creating songs that people out there will want to turn up and repeat for the amount of enjoyment and entertainment?
Marvelous Xe: Rarely do I think of the entertainment factor unless I’m writing for someone else. I am more of a performance artist than an entertainer if I think about it. At its core, I am a musing fiend who doesn’t want to just put out nonsensical noise. I want is for people to critically think about subjects from many different angles before dismissing them. Slow to speak. More data gathering. More musing.
SBS: I also really dig getting right into someone’s details and their bios online too – have you noticed? 😉 I think it’s important though…these write-ups are only going to ever tell a piece of the story, because usually they’ve only got so much space to fit online…and I am consistently & constantly at war with brevity – I feel like art & music deserve more than that. So when I read that “when asked who the intended audience is” that you’ve declared it’s for “the weary and oppressed” – of course I wanna know more about that! In some ways, I’m always curious about an “intended audience” to begin with – isn’t it fair to say that, fundamentally on some level, all music should be for everyone & not relegated to some kind of exclusivity? Why would it be beneficial to only appeal to some, and not everyone? But then, of course the flipside of that coin is that specializing in something is just kind of what people do, whether they’re artists or otherwise – which can be a great thing. Tell us more about “the weary and oppressed” though – how do you feel like the music you’re making speaks more for that demographic than the rest?
Marvelous Xe: There is plenty of music for the masses. I am unconcerned about them. I have a soft spot for those people in the in-between spaces. Those overwhelmed by caring and trying to make life just a bit better for everyone. Everyone is free to listen and love, but everyone will never be the focus. I create for the people I share a current with.
SBS: I’ll be real with ya Marvelous Xe…I don’t know that I’m personally weary and/or oppressed – but what I can tell ya for a verifiable FACT, is that I love the artistic dimensions and depth of your music – it’s really something to experience. Again, I don’t know if I can claim that this is specifically as a result of the 432Hz thing…I just know I like music that is different from the rest of what’s out there, and I’m always going to advocate on behalf of the genuinely creative artists out there, such as yourself. I do think it’s actually more accessible than most artistically-inclined music tends to be, and feel the same about that in regards to the depth of your lyricism, themes, and subjects you’re willing to take on as well – quite often, all of this stuff can stack up to great intentions and fairly unlistenable tunes…at least when it comes to the ears of the masses and what they can handle. Not you though for some reason…and I’m curious as to why you think that might be – it can’t be as simple as the 432Hz thing, is it? There has to be another reason as to what creates the naturally enticing and accessible vibes in your music, despite how different everything you’re creating actually IS…so what do you think it is that peaks our interest?
Marvelous Xe: That is a million-dollar question. I’m open to your thoughts on this. Our music is constantly being rejected by playlists and curators who want “something different” but we are too different. So thanks for the kind words. It helps on days I feel discouraged. All I can say is this is the first time in music I am in control of my sound and the energy behind it. I spend a lot of time with each song making sure the intention and story are hitting properly. I am also viscerally honest in my music and I channel when I sing which is just fancy for saying I step out of my body and I just let whatever needs to flow through, flow.
SBS: What I also think is stunningly rare and speaks volumes on behalf of what you’re capable of my friend, is the sheer amount of versatility & diversity in your music and what you’re willing to try – let’s be real here Marvelous Xe…you’re freakin’ fearless my friend. It’s very hard to come by a musician that cracks the bat so consistently in such a variety of styles & sounds…so how is it that you’re beating the odds in that regard? You’re clearly embracing your creative freedom with wide open arms and willing to explore so much of music that most wouldn’t even dare to attempt – but I guess what I’m wondering is, is there a professional advantage to that method as much as there is a personal one? I can completely understand how rewarding versatility is as an artist…but would it be more perplexing to the masses in that same regard? People always wanna know what to expect (which sucks) – but with the music you’re making, it genuinely seems like expecting the unexpected would be the way to go – is that fair to say?
Marvelous Xe: HAHAHAHA This question made me laugh in the best way. Let me try to hit all your points. If there is a professional advantage I haven’t found it. We are hard to market. Each genre, style, and technique of music equals a tone, a language, a word, and an alphabet in my mind. This may be a type of synesthesia, who knows. But if my goal is to tell you a story in a way that honestly honors the message. I have to tell it with the correct tone, language, and alphabet. It makes perfect sense in my brain, but have come to find that it is not so for others. I love being able to play in music, I would be so bored and stop otherwise. You know, it’s not until this moment I realized my Aunt (Donna Summer) did the exact same thing. At one point I believe she won a Grammy in every genre (before rap became a category) I’m pretty sure she would have gone for that too eventually LOL.
SBS: Here’s what I CAN tell ya about the whole 432Hz thing…at the very least, when it comes to the music you’re making Marvelous Xe – I freakin’ LOVE it. Truly. I’ve spun that…”Leimert Park Healing Vibes 432Hz Live Soundbath Sessions” cut SEVERAL times, and as you know, it’s nearly a half an hour long. Length ain’t an issue when it comes to extraordinary tunes my friend…I could sit in this Soundbath all day and you’d never hear a complaint from me whatsoever…so maybe I am more in tune with the whole 432Hz thing than I thought – BUT…I’m still not entirely convinced that’s WHY I love this particular cut. You’d know better than I would as to why I’m loving it…the music is fantastic, I’d readily concede that to ya – but the VOCALS…your VOICE…is straight up awe-inspiring, mesmerizing, and captivating in all the right ways…to me, that’s the main reason I felt like I kept listening…it’s an award-worthy performance as far as my ears are concerned. And ya did it all without the use of a single word too MX! Amazing…straight up, full stop, amazing. I’m wondering how much of this is rehearsed, versus being present in the moment and just letting the vocals come out naturally with the music surrounding you? How does a track like “Leimert Park Healing Vibes 432Hz Live Soundbath Sessions” end up being made?
Marvelous Xe: It was my dream to do these Sessions for a long time. I love sound baths and want them to be accessible, but was getting rather bored with the ones I was finding. So the goal is to create these sensory escapes while inviting new local musicians to come in and add their energy. Nothing is rehearsed. We don’t get together ahead of time and sometimes Brendan doesn’t know what instruments he will be mic-ing that day. We sit present in the moment, I sing from my bones and whatever happens, happens. It was also a way for me to offer an equal monetary split to anyone involved that day for anything created.
SBS: Obviously the title of the “Leimert Park Healing Vibes 432Hz Live Soundbath Sessions” implies that you’re getting your music out there onstage live…or at the very least, you’ve been soundbathing in public for this particular moment in time. How often do you get out there onstage? I’m sure the pandemic era put that on hold for a while, but in ‘normal’ times (whatever those are!) did you get out there onstage much before? How about coming up this year in 2022 – any plans to get out there more?
Marvelous Xe: 2020 was our year to start performing and the world had other plans for us. I did take the time to do some necessary healing and restructuring that year though. This year we are putting our weight behind promoting and performing. We have done multiple Soundbaths in Liemert Park as well as healing wellness spaces for the last two Big Juneteenth celebrations in Liemert Park. Thanks to Ben Caldwell at Kaos Network. We are looking for any opportunity to perform and envelop folks with sound.
SBS: When you scan your list of songs at a site like Spotify, do you feel like the way things have shaped up in your “top 10” over time is an accurate reflection of what you’d consider your “top 10” to be as well? Why, or why not? Tracks like “Awakening” and “The Forgotten” from 2018 really seemed to connect with the people out there…what is it about those particular songs you feel got their attention?
Marvelous Xe: Every song is my favorite, and I love and sing my own stuff because the messages always prove relevant and recurring. The top songs are some of the oldest and more well-promoted. I have no idea if a song got their attention or if my sharing of a very personal journey on my Instagram brought in more listeners. I have asked and everyone has a different answer. The only consistent answer I get is that “there is something in my voice” and all I have to say to that is I have the timbre of the women who came before me.
SBS: What can you tell us about the latest music you’ve made in 2022, like your new singles “Safety,” & “Ethereal” which features Mary Gaines Bernard – what wouldn’t we know about’em by listening to’em?
Marvelous Xe: “Safety” was in response to a few very unsafe situations I was in from 2019-2021 and even from childhood. It is a plea. And “Ethereal” is a track I did vocally playing with my mom whom I never thought I would have a good relationship with. This song is a representation of how far we came and the beautiful love we have for each other now. I never thought to release this song, but one day it felt right.
SBS: How did you end up connecting with Mary and decide to make music together? I’m always interested in how collaborations begin…because at some point in time, they’re always theoretical, aren’t they? Like…at one point, at least one of ya decided that it would be a good thing to make music together – and clearly, from the final results, we can tell that it was…but that’s unknown at the very start, long before anyone has pushed record, know what I mean? So who approached who, and how did you know that you’d both be a good fit to collaborate together – or ultimately, does that even matter? Is a creative collaboration always worth pursuing, regardless of how the results might be in the end?
Marvelous Xe: Mary is my mother, I’m the fruit of her looms. I brought her to the studio one day to record backgrounds for some songs. Turns out she recorded backgrounds in that exact same studio when she was pregnant with me many years earlier. Before we finished I asked her to vocally play on a track I was goofing off with. “Ethereal” was born.
SBS: Speaking of collaborations…you’ve been working with uber-producer Brendan Dekora lately as well – at least as far as I know. Dude’s been makin’ the rounds out there! Honestly, I think there has to be about FIVE Brendan Dekoras, because that guy is one seriously busy man. Anyhow. He’s certainly gifted at what he does, which his Grammy Award-winning ways would definitely confirm. How did you know he’d be a good fit for the music you’re making, and how did you end up connecting to this Wizard of Hz?
Marvelous Xe: Hahaha we actually do call him the Wiz. Brendan is my best friend. We clashed a bit in the beginning because he found me very unconventional and now Brendan’s the only person I really trust with my vocals.
SBS: You also ended up working with OptimusGrind back in 2020 on the single “Wickedest Wine” – what was that experience like? Seemed like it resulted in yet another highly unique tune for ya – so that had to be a whole lot of fun…different & diversity seems to be your jam Marvelous Xe. Have you got any plans for more collaborations on the horizon this year? Who are you working with next? I saw that you’ve put a flag out there to Missy Elliot…that’d be amazing if she responded to that – I hope she does!
Marvelous Xe: I would die if Missy Eliot called me. We wouldn’t even get to collaborating because I would be dead. She is the only person on the planet I fan out for. I would love to make more collabs, I wanted to make a Wine song so Dave and I banged that out, but it made more sense to go on his project. 2022 is the year of the collabs and I just met more folks that we are preparing to collab with. So excited. I’m so open.
SBS: I ended up randomly watching a Tik Tok post you’d made regarding the movie Encanto while I was out there scanning through your Twitter page online preppin’ this interview…I think it was from around December last year, but I’m sure it’s a moment you remember. Honestly, it sounded like a very profound & outright monumental experience…and while there were a few things about that video you made that caught my attention…I figured I’d provide the opportunity to explain in more detail what that movie meant to you, and why it resonated so much – what made Encanto an important movie to be made?
Marvelous Xe: I am afroLatine and culturally there was so much overlap in Maribel’s story to my own. So much that I unabashedly overcame by myself. It’s hard to get into now but it was so important that the movie be made. So grateful.
SBS: Don’t get me wrong, I understood what ya meant by that Tik Tok video, and have an idea about how Encanto has such crucial relevance to so many people out there around the globe. What ended up catching my attention as well in that particular video you made, was the moment where you talked about crying and how you do so little of it in life…and I was curious about that – why is that exactly? You seem so grounded & emotionally connected…I doubt you’d see crying as a form of weakness so much as it would likely be another form of valid expression and genuine emotion – so what keeps you from crying?
Marvelous Xe: I live in my logical brain. I don’t cry at funerals or in the “appropriate” times. As I have been addressing further trauma work in my life that movie just hit all the buttons. I ugly cried with my whole chest in the theater. A cry i really needed. It also showed me I had done the work to step into my heart fully.
SBS: I also (shamelessly) end up stalking people quite a bit online when I’m doing the research for these interviews I write up…like, I’ve been all over that Twitter page of yours and diggin’ into the past postings – and there were a couple of stories that I didn’t see any conclusion to, and now I’m invested in’em, and I like…you know…kind of need to know how it all worked out for ya! So…yeah…I mean, I’ll just ask ya, straight up my friend – first of all, did you ever get your bag back from Southwest Airlines? And then secondly, I wanna know if you ever actually got a hold of a human being at Avid support? My previous experiences with them have been just about the worst thing I can recall customer service wise, so if they continue to suck to this very day, I think it’s only fair that we take a moment to call them out once again.
Marvelous Xe: I only go on twitter to complain LOL. As for my bag. Never saw it again. I can’t talk about it. It hurts still. And no live person at Avid. Avid is bumming me out. They keep flagging and pulling down our sound baths.
SBS: I often feel like, in listening to music and working with the future superstars of tomorrow, that I can usually pick up on who influenced them, or paved the way for their music to thrive today…but I gotta admit – it was harder to pick up on that in your music than the vast majority of what I listen to on any given day Marvelous Xe. So…I suppose, while I’ve got ya here, I may as well go right to the source! Who do you look up to in music, and why have they resonated so much with what you wanna create as an artist? Is there anyone out there that’s truly had an influence on the direction of your sound overall?
Marvelous Xe: I look up to Missy Elliot, but not sure she has a huge role in my sound. She is just dope and I love her aura. I was heavily restricted in my music intake as a kid so Gospel, Oldies and Soundtracks for movies were a huge workaround for me. Meaning I was probably influenced by the most eclectic musicians.
SBS: ‘They’ say “it’s all been done” – and I’d say that your music proves that it hasn’t been. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Each time you go to create a new song – is the overall goal you have the same, or is there something different that you try to accomplish with each new cut? I get that each song would have its own potential uniqueness to it…I suppose I’m asking a more broad question this time here – is there an overall mission that you’re on in making your music that drives the entire process somewhat?
Marvelous Xe: At my core, I am telling stories to teach life lessons. I never think I can love a song more than the last song I made.
SBS: What is the most important decision or change you can make with your music for the future ahead – and how do you plan on achieving all the many goals you likely have with your career Marvelous Xe?
Marvelous Xe: Fuck structure, just tell the story. I wish I knew how to make all my goals come true, most days I feel like I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall. 2022 I’m being more intentional.
SBS: Sincerely Marvelous Xe, I have had a fantastic time listening to your music – I found it fascinating, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more in the future for sure! All interviews have to come to an end at some point though I suppose, and we’ve reached the end of this one today my friend. I want to say a massive THANK YOU to you for all your time, effort, and answers – it’s been both a privilege and a pleasure to talk tunes with ya…truly. All that good stuff being said, no one single interview will ever quite cover it all…so if there’s anything else you’d like to say to the people out there, we reserve this final space for you to do exactly that. It’s the SBS open-floor – and it’s all yours Marvelous Xe – one last spot to say anything else you’d like to – keep up the incredible work & thank you again for everything!
Marvelous Xe: You don’t need a label to justify your existence and if you ever see me on the street, please say hi. And if you are a musician interested in collaborating hit me up on Instagram. I’m super friendly and love meeting new folks. Thank you for this beautiful discord SBS. I appreciate your existence and the thoughtful questions. I hope to meet you one day in the wild.
Find out more about Marvelous Xe at the official website at: https://marvelousxe.com
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