A nostalgic mysticism, infused with 80’s funk, synthesises with effortless cohesion to forge Xander Ghost‘s distinctive aesthetic. Sexy, inaccessible yet intriguing, Xander is the nomadic producer with intoxicatingly romantic sensibilities. Based in LA, compelled to constantly travel, read and write lyrics, not much exists online detailing Xander’s life and times to date. Preferring to keep himself anon, dressing in dark layers, listening carefully before entering conversation, his music benefits from a philosophical and intelligent edge. Here is an artist who has lived nine lives, drinking in every experience, the means by which to inspire his wildly creative license.
Meeting the artist outside London’s infamous Tramp club one dreary evening, Xander stands quietly in the corner, tall and brooding, cradling an iced spirit. Producing for major labels and best selling artists, anything beyond Xander’s personal and independent work is now currently off the table. Coming of age through his music, he is now ready to focus entirely on the material he has always wanted to create.
Releasing his debut album Psychotropica last week, steeped in exotic instrumentations and charged atmospheres, Xander’s LP is a perfect representation of the chilled, R&B climates ruling the charts right now. Artists Frank Ocean and The Weeknd are obvious comparisons, but the vintage rhythms of 90s trip pop acts such as Portishead and Cocteau Twins are equally tangible on record. The guitar strings on standout track ‘Early Morning Blues’ are perfect, the lyrics in ‘Runs’ are deeply poetic and Xander’s voice is delicate yet impactful throughout the 13-track compendium. Already compiling tracks for his sophomore album, Xander simply adores making the music he so lovingly crafts. Notion caught up with Xander to find out more about what has informed his work.
Milly McMahon: Your album dropped last week, how do you now feel having such a prolific and personal body of work out there for public consumption?
Xander Ghost: I recorded this album over a few years and put it out with no expectations. It feels good that it is getting picked up. It’s a project that gets better over time the more you live with it.
I feel excited about what’s to come. I have already started on the next project and have certain ideas I want to bring to life before the year’s end. For me, it’s all about progression, in every sense of the word. Getting stronger and staying original. The future is all about a bigger project, more tailored to a unique live set.
Who was the first person you played the music to and what was their reaction? How important is other people’s validation of your art?
The first person I played the project to was a former lover, and she hated it because she saw parallels with our relationship. I don’t pay attention to exterior validation in any aspect of my life and even more-so in regards to art.
How did you conceptualise the name?
The name ‘Psychotropica’ is a world that I created in my head, with a specific colour scheme, which is in fact how the current rendition of the artwork came to fruition. The word in itself means mind-altering, and that’s very much how I feel when I create, in a different state of mind.
Of all the lyrics on the album, which still resonates as the most powerful now?
Every song means a lot to me, but the listener will develop their own relationship with each track. I always write on my iPhone. Sometimes it’s while I am producing and sometimes it happens at random points throughout the day in flashes and I come back to it later.
‘Early Morning Blues’ is one of my favourite tracks. In the real world, I rarely regret much, but this song alludes to a time in my life where I did have a regret.
Another favourite for me is ‘So Early’. The particular line “Why you gotta hit so hard / it got the bone / I go out from time to time but stand alone” still resonates with me to this day.
You love fashion, and your style is sartorial, what labels and influencers inform your look?
Taking care of my body is the first step. If you are in shape, everything looks precise. My style continuously evolves and is very intuitive. While I have an affinity for certain designers such Issey Miyake & Orlebar Brown, my inspiration in regards to style comes from a myriad of influences derived from life experiences, not unique to the fashion world.
Who was your hero from a young age?
The football player Ronaldo. He was my idol growing up, and I recently had the privilege of meeting him in London.
Who would you like to work with in the future and why?
Solomun. He is a legendary producer who has succeeded with the DIY model and really knows how to encapsulate audiences.
Words by Milly McMahon. Find her on Twitter.