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Interview with FXWRK '15 -- Djibril Sall '16

The Blog

Interview with FXWRK '15 -- Djibril Sall '16

The Ankh

With the democratization of music through the internet, everyone has the capacity--thanks to a little thing called BitTorrent--to start making music from their own creative space (re: their bedroom). FXWRK, who refers to herself as a bedroom producer, has found and captivated an audience with her uncanny ability to take elements from seemingly contradicting genres and meld them into something that works and breathes musicality. Her soundscape is ever changing and elusive, but she always leaves her unique signature--an underlying jazzy soulfulness--on her work, uniting all the varied sounds of her production. In many ways she personifies a bedroom producer literally and metaphorically; she invites us in to her world and because her music is so fluid and flexible, her listener can use her beats for just about any occasion--whether they’re about to turn up or just have a chill ass smoke sesh, FXWRK has got their back. She’s just a junior in college and she’s already drawing other talented artists to her fold--people such as up and coming artist, DonChristian. FXWRK is a beast at producing the illest and creepiest beats you’ve heard (Happy Halloween, btw). Her talent is multifaceted, diverse, and fluid. I caught up with FXWRK to talk to her about life, her politics, her music, and her newly released EP. Read the interview below:

D:Let’s get some background. Who are you and what is a bedroom producer about?

 F:Ok so, I'm FXWRK and I make beats. My name is Coral Foxworth in real life and I think of myself as an artist these days. I grew up in the hood in Brooklyn. From Bedstuy, Flatbush. I went to boarding school--Taft--and now I’m a junior at Wesleyan. Pretty interesting trajectory I think. Music was everywhere. I was a dancer for years--ballet and all that. I’m an introvert and a nerd. I love literature, music, ideas, sociology, theory. I’m a perfectionist with music but a lazy student. I’m also into social justice movements and radical politics. Oh wait, I also sing. Not as much anymore but I’m planning to [in the future].

I started [producing] in high school but didn’t get serious until a year and a half ago. I’d say, a bedroom producer is about a lot of things. We exist because now we can use the internet to gain access to programs and sounds that can be used by anyone to make music. There's more independent music now--the industry is changing and there is now an audience for people making music in their beds without a studio. For me its a really personal process that offers the most creative freedom you could ask for.

 D: Let's talk about radical politics. I can hear a strain of radicalization in your explanation of what a bedroom producer is. Do your politics permeate into your music life? How so?

 F: I mean, I think just being a woman in a field heavily dominated by men is political within itself. I am trying to work on my technical and marketing skills at the moment, but from the very beginning I envisioned making bold, nuanced political statements with my music. One of the tracks on the EP actually sounds like an anti-police brutality rally.

 D: How would you say your upbringing influenced this intersection of music and politics? Who are your influences (in both the political and musical realm)?

 

F: I am a natural idealist who grew up at the intersection of a lot of social problems, which forced me to think and ask ‘why?’. Taking to school gave me the analytical skills to begin understanding and questioning early on. It also allowed me access to cultural and class contexts I had never seen. I became sensitive to the disparity I witnessed.

 As for influences...

Musically, my favorite artist is Stevie Wonder--perfect example of the kind of artist/activist I aspire to. I grew up listening and performing to Motown, swing and big band, blues, 70's disco, 80's hip hop and RnB, 90's slow jams,  rap, indie, pop, onward to discovering electronic music with Flying Lotus and Afrojack. I’m moving to underground bass music/chillwave stuff at the moment so I’m kind of all over the place--lots of influences. Oh, and I'm voting for Russell Brand next time around, there's my influence. Hahaha just kidding.D: So let's talk about the environment that's most conducive to your character/soul/spirit/whatever. Besides your bedroom, where do you work best? Feel free to elaborate on emotional/intellectual/random dope elements that make a place best for you.

D: You said that you used to make beats in high school but then got serious about producing. What prompted you to get serious?

 F: I was going through a rough time and spending hours and hours everyday making music to deal. I spent so much time producing that I eventually got better. Also, people were down and encouraged me to keep going. I loved it.

 D: That's intense. How did music help you deal with your struggles?

F:It has always, always been my outlet to channel my emotions into creating something original, productive and positive by using creative methods.

 D: That's interesting, but a lot of artists would say the same thing. What differentiates you from other people? What do you think is special about your music?

F: My stuff is very organic, as in, I don’t really refer to any external or predetermined genre or structure. I experience making beats as using sound to bring my inner world to life and make it intelligible to myself and others.

D: Damn, from what I've heard your beats are just fucking belligerent and even creepy, but in person you are probably one of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met. How does this dichotomy represent itself in your music?

F: I have a lot of dichotomies.

D: hahaha...yea

F: The beats are like my moods. I go through dark/ intense periods and express it privately through music, so you might not see that in person.

D: So let's talk about the environment that's most conducive to your character/soul/spirit/whatever. Besides your bedroom, where do you work best? Feel free to elaborate on emotional/intellectual/random dope elements that make a place best for you.

F: I really do love my bedroom, too much, haha. I prefer to be alone in a dim quiet space for producing. Just any open minded creative space if collaborating. I also need warmth. I need to be around a bunch of ambitious forward thinking artists who wanna make something brand new.

D: So would you say Wesleyan has helped you grow as an artist?

F: Yes, definitely. Multitasking and networking are definitely easier than being independent in NY. Homework is hard because it can be a high stress point but I have met and am working with so many great musicians here.

 D: So you are doing a lot in terms of music. Is there anyone that you are collaborating with/have collaborated with? Wish to collaborate with?

 F: I worked with Wesleyan/Eclectic alum DonChristian on a beat for his mixtape, The Wayfarer. I’m also making beats for his next one. I’m tryna work with Le1f as well. I work with rappers and producer friends on campus regularly too.

 D: Chill, so what programs do you use?

 F: GarageBand. And some plugins and instruments I downloaded

 D: ...Just GarageBand, though?

 F: Yeah. I got the EP professionally mastered, though. I know garageband is not the standard but I think its limitations force me to innovate.

 D: Do you think you will ever branch out into other programs?

 F:Yes! I got Logic and Ableton ready to go. I just want to learn as much as possible.

 D: Logic is fucking dope, I can't wait to hear what you produce using it! Let's talk about your EP, though. What kind of soundscape are you going for?

 F: Words I think of: spacious. massive. minimal. introspective. melancholy...but you can also twerk and/or smoke to it at the same time, haha.

 D: How long have you been working on it?

 F: Half the beats are over a year old so, I guess a year. There were all the nights I stayed up till 6am last January just playing with minor synth chords in the dark. There were other times just chilling with friends and arranging hihats in the meantime. It hasn’t been a separate part of my life for a while now; I'm always just doing it. Some songs come in a 20 minute creative burst, others are the product of two months of tweaking.

 D: Wow that sounds like a labor of love and sweat. How do you feel about the finished EP--are you excited to release it?

F: Very. It’s a culmination of a lot. I put myself into every beat. I hope people resonate.

 D: So what do you think is next for you? How do you expect to grow musically (yes I know this a corny-ass question but still...)?

 F: I want to keep producing every day, be more productive, work with more people. I might play a show in brooklyn next week. Above all I want is to stay inspired and continue to improve.

 D: Any last words/acknowledgements/shout outs...

F: Oh no. Haha, I’m bad at this part because theres so many people to thank. Hey Fontaine and Tweezie! They’re my siblings. She [Fontaine] is a film editor and director and he [Tweezie] is a rapper on the come up. Can’t wait to work with you more and thanks for encouraging me.