LA producer and Canada native XVII has quickly emerged in the last few months as one of the leading innovators within the flourishing dance music scene, completely redefining genres through his hard hitting remixes and originals. Fusing melodic, orchestral, and trap influences the 20 year old classically trained musician’s “melodic turn up” music has garnered support from some of the biggest names in the industry from RL Grime to Flosstradamus.
With his last three remixes collectively racking up over 3 million soundcloud plays, XVII is on a hot streak with no signs of slowing down. With new original music on the way, an Australian tour, and a new Too Future mix premiered exclusively through Run the Trap the sky is clearly the limit for number 17. We sat down with the man himself for a brief look into the world of XVII – read up and stream his Too Future guest mix below.
RTT: How has being a classically trained musician helped you with electronic production?
XVII: To a trained ear you can easily tell the difference between people who’ve gone through that formal training and those who haven’t. If I hadn’t gone through that I wouldn’t be where I am today because it’s helped that much. Chord progressions, the circle of fifths, it’s all second nature to me now when I go to make music. I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 so honestly without having done any of the classically trained stuff I probably wouldn’t be making music at all.
You’ve been dropping some huge remixes lately from Flume’s “Some Minds” to Meek Mill and Drizzy’s “R.I.C.O.” What’s the creative process behind finding a track to remix and flipping it into your own?
Generally speaking most of my remixes come from songs I like that have something in particular that pulls me towards them. For the Flume remix I loved the original but I just couldn’t handle the drop. It was really glitchy and very “flume” but I didn’t like how it sounded so I wanted to put my own twist on it. The Meek and Drake remix was a demo I’d been sitting on for about 2-3 months. We were going to put it out as a solo release but then “R.I.C.O” dropped and it was a perfect fit.
I read in another interview that you produced that “Some Minds” flip after a 14 hour studio session!? Is that your usual work flow, just to bang it out right then and there?
Yeah my best music is usually from a “bang session” like that. The “U Don’t Know” flip was an edit I dropped as a 20k follower thing and it just blew up. The other day I was actually looking at the ableton file and it’s only 16 tracks. It’s not a big project at all and it was super fast and easy to do. But in terms of being able to work it’s honestly whenever the inspiration hits. There’s been times I’ve sat down for hours and can’t crank out anything. Then you take a break for a week and come back and work for 3 days straight.
With the huge success of your remixes how do you feel about the latest “soundcloud purge” and the crippling effects copyright infringement is having on remix culture?
I have a lot of friends who’ve had their accounts taken down and it’s because normally all they do is high pass the original and add drums to it. I think the reason none of my remixes have been taken down yet (knock on wood) is because I do a lot more to the song. I use the original but then there’ll be chords underneath it or there’ll be other melodies or filters on it. When soundcloud takes down remixes it’s because they’ve got a fingerprint system that can tag whichever song sounds like the original, so if your remix comes up as being tagged I guess you haven’t done enough to it. I think on the bright side though this is forcing people to step their game up, or at least start moving away towards remixes and start working on more original music.
How would you describe your sound without using any genres?
I was in the studio with Dr. Fresch the other day and we were talking about how music is supposed to be, and I told him when I’m making music under XVII I want it to encompass energy. I don’t care if I’m making house, future house, dubstep, whatever; I just want there to be undeniable energy in the music. For lack of a better term it’s turn up music. It’s the stuff you wanna hear when you go out to parties. I want to make relaxing music and melodic stuff as well, but it’ll still encompass that energy. You can still have energy without it being 4 by 4 big room house you know? That being said I still want to always have a melodic background to my tracks so it’s appealing to the ear. XVII is, simply put, melodic turn up music.
How do you go about managing that duality between the “heavy” trap influences and the “pretty” melodic side of your music?
That just goes back to being classically trained. There’s no clear cut answer to it I think that’s just the music. I don’t really have a explicit ‘style,’ it’s more just the music that comes to me is what I’m going to put out. If I feel it and it’s what’s inspiring me at the moment I’m going to drop it. I know that I’ve been doing ‘trap’ since the beginning but I want to try and push into other genres. I want be more of like a Skrillex where I can put out anything I want and my sound doesn’t have to be tied to a specific genre.
Talk to me about the 120 BPM “hype jump shit” you refer to in the description of your “R.I.C.O” remix. Is this a new direction bass music is heading in the future?
I don’t think it’s where bass music is going I think it’s more where I’m trying to lead it. I’ve heard a couple of 120 tunes, it’s got that four by four house feel but with a huge trap kick. With anything 140 or 100 BPM the crowd dies out within the first 5 seconds of the drop because it’s cool once it comes in but they don’t know how to dance to it. So 120 is the mix between house where you can jump to it but it still has that prevalent trap vibe. It’s an area of electronic music people haven’t tapped into yet and it’s definitely something I want to try and explore and incorporate in my production.
That gliding synth in your Alison Wonderland and Flume remixes is killer. What other sonic elements are unique to the “XVII” sound?
I love that synth but I’m trying to move away from it at the same time because while it’s great and sounds amazing if you’re listening to it release after release it’s gonna get really stale. If you look at my earlier track “Anax” it’s more melodic and it’s more thought-out with the strings and all of the orchestral instruments. That’s what’s developing a lot more in my new production and in particular my next release. When it comes out you’ll hear it’s a lot more melody based but it’s still bringing that raw energy. The sounds I use are more strings, horns, anything orchestral to make it feel more ‘real’ and organic but still in an electronic context. It’s really pushing that idea of ‘melodic turn up music’ I was talking about earlier and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
Let’s talk about this Too Future mix. What type of vibe were you going for?
The mix is really different than what you usually hear from Too Future and I’m really excited for people to finally hear it. It’s like the ‘next version’ of the mix I put out six months ago. But regardless if I’m playing a live show or doing a mix for TF, it’s important that they have that energy. From the minute you start it to the end it’s just gonna be pure energy the whole way through.
How does it feel seeing RL Grime, Grandtheft, Flosstradamus, Alison Wonderland, TWRK, and other big names dropping your music?
I started producing when I was 13, just fucking around and not really thinking about what I was doing. Going from that to seeing people I’ve been looking up to for ages play my music is just surreal, and gratifying in the end to see that your work is being appreciated by other people after you’ve worked your ass off. It just goes to prove that if you work hard then anything can happen. If you just try as hard as you can and put 120% into everything you do it could pay off at the end and it generally does.
Too Future. Guest Mix 041: XVII | Free Download
Jack Ü ~ Get Free / Cinema VIP
Lorde ~ Tennis Court (Flume Remix)
Raury ~ Gods Whisper (Flosstradamus & Aryay Remix)
Diplo & DJ Snake ~ Drop
Creaky Jackals ~ OC
Skrillex ~ Recess (XVII Tool)
Flume ~ Left Alone (Ta-Ku & Gravez Re-Remix)
Ricky Remedy ~ 100
XVII ~ ID
Noahplause ~ Runnin (Ray Volpe Remix)
Meek Mill ~ R.I.C.O. (feat. Drake) (XVII Remix)
Kaaris ~ Charge (Mr. Carmack Remix)
Valentino Khan ~ Deep Down Low (VIP)
Diplo & GTA ~ Boy Oh Boy
Bitch Don’t Know The End (XVII Mashup)
Alpharock ~ FAWL (XVII Edit)
Deorro & R3hab ~ Flashlight (XVII Edit)
Medasin & XVII ~ ID
SNBRN ~ Raindrops (ID Remix)
Booyah (Party Favor VIP)
Ray Volpe ~ By Your Side (CRAY Remix)
Cesqeaux ~ Wylin
NGHTMRE ~ Street
XVII ~ Anax VIP
Kendrick Lamar & GTA ~ Backstreet Freestyle & Dhalsim Money
Keys N Krates ~ Dum Dee Dum (NGHTMRE Remix)
LVX ~ Sabbath
Dillon Francis & DJ Snake ~ Get Low (Aazar Remix)
Flosstradamus & GTA ~ Prison Riot
Jack Ü & Snails ~ Holla Out VIP
XVII ~ Achilles
Flosstradamus & Ricky Remedy ~ BYB
Vanic ~ Make You Fade (XVII Intro Edit)
Flume ~ Some Minds (XVII Flip)
Porter Robinson ~ Flicker (Mat Zo Remix) (XVII Edit)
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Brett Blackman says
this just fucked me up
Elliot Faulkner says
yoooo. Big things to come from this guy. needs to bring himself to new zealand when he's on this tour though
Justin Credible Chan says
Crazy man. Its so incredible to see Robert beginning with his twerk tracks, turn into this massive future bass powerhouse. Always supported from the very beginning.
Tim Steininger says
XVII might be my favorite electronic musician out right now. All of his songs are just so creative and fresh and they're all a nice break from the big room house garbage that has become so mainstream. I've told all my friends about him and they're all fans now too. I remember following him on soundcloud when he had 9000 followers, and now hes up to 60K+. It's just been really cool to see a bunch of small-town producers make a name for themselves and become successful in this business.
Props to you XVII, keep doing what you're doing.
(BTW, is it ex-vee-eye-eye or seventeen? I never really got a clear answer)