BexX is an independent, unsigned UK artist who defines their own sound with a theatrical mix of meaningful songwriting, classical & baroque-pop, world flavors and experimental noise. BexX’s mission is to challenge stereotypes and expectations and explore gender issues. Attempting to break the boxes we create to challenge our limitations of what is possible. “I always limited myself by not releasing material because it didn’t fit into any one particular genre,” says BexX. “I like to combine theatrical piano with drum n bass and people got confused. In 2019, I realized that is the point. That not conforming to genre is just as important to me as not conforming to gender. In breaking down those walls, I found a way of communicating my music without constraint.” BexX’s music and songwriting explores gender-fluidity, deals with non-self-acceptance and overcoming obstacles by bringing awareness to mindset, internal beliefs and behavioral patterns.
- Can you tell us a little bit about where you come from and how you got started making music?
BexX: I was born in Bristol. I got my first guitar at age 5, and had a go at the cello, trombone and singing in bands as a teenager. I got into recording when I was about 15 and made a few albums for my bands, and my own solo projects. I never released anything properly as I felt I was always on a learning curve.
- Have you had formal training or are you self-taught?
BexX: I’ve taught myself mostly, by listening to and studying songs by ear in my spare time as a teenager and by writing many lyrics and musical ideas. I had thousands of them before I was 20, in books, and on tapes and mini discs. I had lessons too, especially when I got more serious about it. I started finding people better than me who could help me develop. I went on to study a 3 year vocal technique diploma in Copenhagen.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
BexX: My Dad played a wide range of music when I was a kid. Kate Bush, The Who, Benjamin Brittain, Pink Floyd, War of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne.
I learned Bohemian Rhapsody by ear and played that on guitar in a concert when I was about 13. And then I was really into Ocean Colour Scene, Aerosmith, and Alanis Morissette before delving into the more experimental genres that Gilles Peterson played on the radio.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
BexX: For me, there are three things I want to convey.
1 – to be musically Genre-fluid. Not constrained by the boxes we are given to define our style.
2 – lyrically, I want to explore some of those universal feelings that help define what it is to be human. I write about the pursuit of my long held passions and the struggle to find freedom from long-held notions, from the mental chains which bind us to who we are.
3 – what I stand for as a Non-Binary person, not constrained by the gender boxes were given in society, and inspiring others to follow their dreams through my own self-expression.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
BexX: I started teaching singing when I was 22. Through teaching others, I learned how to play piano and learned many, many songs. Basically for anything anyone wanted to sing, I was able to pick up the song by ear and accompany them whilst helping them with their vocal technique. You see, Voice Technique has nothing to do with style, so I covered a lot of stylistic ground by helping others. By 25 I had set up a recording studio too so I was recording bands, solo artists and singer/songwriters, function bands and kids parties! I had everything thrown at me, from Girls Aloud to Greenday, from Muse to Metallica.
I think that was my main phase of learning. Emulation of certain singers by teaching how to do it, and re-learning how I wanted to present myself as an artist. Then, I had a major revelation in summer 2019 when I was only just coming out and I realized that my Non-Binary identity was deeply intertwined with my musical artistry. It was something that I had been questioning since the age of 5, as long as I had played guitar.
And, as if by magic, months of synchronicity ensued. Everything started clicking into place to make it happen. I chose my new name BexX (the meaning is explained on my website). I met contacts that could give my music the sound I wanted and I realized that I had already written many songs about my Genderfluid experiences that had to be released as BexX, venting my frustrations with identity, my difficulties in relationships, addictive behavioral patterns and found that by writing these songs I had been trying to communicate something that I had locked away deep inside.
From then on, I was able to put all I had learned from serving others, into developing even more creative output as original compositions to share with and serve a wider community. The lockdowns that followed during Covid-19 allowed me the time to focus more on developing my sound through recording.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
BexX: Although music is definitely entertainment to a lot of people, I believe it goes much deeper. It is something that connects all of us, no matter what background, creed or color. I am a spiritual person and I love the influence of different cultures of music. But, regarding my own music, I feel it has important social aspects that represent individuality and self-expression within communities that currently really need to connect. Especially with lockdowns occurring all over the world this year, a lot of people feel isolated and dis-connected. Music is the antidote.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and presuppose that it will be appreciated by a specific audience?
BexX: I’ve done a lot of ‘commercial co-writing’ with other songwriters where we would go for trends and copy criteria that we believe a listener would enjoy. These days, I don’t do that for my new projects! I choose not to, deliberately, because I believe that it’s simply not possible to please everyone. There may well be influences from trends but, instead of manufacturing the music to fit the mold and ‘target the listener’, I want my music to be able to speak naturally to whoever finds it.
Everyone hears a song differently. Some may enjoy a word or phrase, for others it’s the production, for someone else it’s about the person who wrote it and their story. I don’t want to formulate my music to fit genre criteria or trends any more. Instead I have to please myself first and share it the way I feel it should be as an art form. If others like it then that’s a bonus!
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you most often start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed musical piece? Do you usually start with a rhythm, a narrative in your head, or a melody?
BexX: Every song is different. Writing a song from scratch might start with a musical idea recorded on my phone. Some of them linger in my head and I repeat them for days before playing them on an instrument. Often, I can already hear the bassline and the guitar line or strings that intertwine with the piano or vocal. Then, I lay the tracks on the computer or loop station, followed by the vocal ideas, words and melody which arise usually with some theme that is connected to my life experiences or current thoughts. I keep many journals with lyrical ideas that I might choose from.
I also enjoy improvising with other musicians and forming collaborations where our worlds can combine to come up with something I would have never have thought of. My next collaboration is coming out on December 11th, with my best friend of 10 years, Lady Nade. She’s a local Bristol artist who is all about shifting societal stereotypes and breaking expectations by making a stand against being defined by genre. The single is called ‘All That You Dream’ and is written to inspire the listener to follow their dreams.
- Why is it important for you to be releasing music now, during a global pandemic?
BexX: I’ve made it my priority over all other work! This year, social distancing has brought a lot of people online for support from loneliness and anxiety. I’ve been able to connect with many people in a way that I never had been able to before, with videos and live streaming. Many people in the wider community still find ‘Gender Non-Conforming’ to be a foreign concept and social problems often arise from a lack of education and understanding.
I want to continue, on the back of what I have started this year, to inspire audiences to overcome obstacles and reach for their goals by breaking expectations and challenging stereotypes myself, as an artist, whilst helping to normalize the stigma that surrounds Non-Binary and Trans people. And, I can do this by providing my small space on the internet, where I can create a sense of togetherness with others during a time when we may be feeling more alone than ever.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
BexX: My career as BexX the artist has only just begun, even though I’ve been a behind-the-scenes person for years. I feel so supported by the fans I’ve gained so far, ever since taking this new direction, everything has shown me that this is the right path. I’m really looking forward to finishing and releasing my music that is yet to come. . It’s a success to know that people are waiting for it now.
- If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what you and your music is all about?
BexX: Expression, Energy, Vulnerability, Persevering and Passion.
- If the name BexX came up in a conversation among music fans, alongside which other current artists, if any, would you most like to be associated with in that conversation?
BexX: Current Artists: Benjamin Clementine, Florence + the Machine, Anhoni. Non-current artists: Definitely Kate Bush. I get David Bowie a lot and sometimes also Prince, not necessarily in the sound but in the diversity.
- Where do you do most of your recording and production work? And is that where you recorded your debut single “I’m Still There”?
BexX: I record in my own studio where I’ve been since I was 25. One time, I bought a new grand piano from the shop next door. They told me that it would be fine to carry it up the stairs to my main room. Unfortunately, once I bought it, they took one look and said “Nah!, not gonna happen!” They quoted me an extra £800 to get it through my first floor window on a crane! So, instead, I decided to sell it to a customer and friend of mine, who was seeking a piano at the time, so it went to their new conservatory. That was a win win! That’s where I recorded “I’m Still There” and 5 other upcoming tunes at my friend’s house. I was very fortunate to be able to record on the instrument I had personally chosen from a shop with hundreds of pianos!
- When and how did the idea of “I’m still There” start to form in your head, and what is the actual message of the song?
BexX: The song represents a moment in time when you leave someone you loved for the greater good. In order to move forward and find your place in the world. Pursue your passion and truly be yourself. It’s a song that represents closure. To move on from the old and look forward to a new life, but to do so, we need to embrace the beauty of what once was before accepting that it has passed and we can finally step into our new skin.
I wrote it a long time ago, possibly 10 years before it was recorded. But, I find it relatable to many other situations in my life since then. For instance, where I was involved with someone that didn’t understand me, and I couldn’t be truly open and express myself with them, prompting me to leave to find my own place yet again.
- What were the main compositional, performance and production challenges you came across on the new track ‘All That You Dream’, coming out on 11th December?
BexX: Ironically, the song is all about encouraging the listener to pursue their dreams, but as it happened, we had to overcome a lot of barriers ourselves. I would have recorded the song with a full live band, but with Coronavirus lockdowns, I had to produce the track remotely with musicians which meant a new way of working.
I play the guitar, double bass and piano on the recording, and the song features drums by Emma and harp by Emmy. I had previously recorded the singers from my studio, singing together in the chorus. Lady Nade and I added the lead vocals afterwards. It was a real community effort with lots of people involved. Which is very much the spirit of the song.
- Looking back, did the final mix of the song come out as you had imagined when composing it, or would you change anything on it, in any way?
BexX: Nothing ever comes out the way I wanted it to. But there’s a level of over-perfectionism where we just have to let go, delegate and release the music otherwise things never get finished! That’s a problem for many musicians, where we don’t finish what we started. I want to rise up against that obstacle.
- How essential do you think video and visual media is in relation to your music? Is it something you pay particular attention to?
BexX: Yes, it’s really important to have the image and the photography that somehow portrays a message that matches the music. I have many ideas for all of my songs, and if there were no constraints, I’d go all out!
- How do you get received within the music and entertainment industry, and by your contemporaries in general? Do you think the world is finally ready for an artist like BexX, or do we still have a little way to go before gender is no longer an issue?
BexX: Many people won’t understand what I’m doing and that’s totally fine. If I can be even just one ripple in a wave of new ideas and new influences towards a better, more accepting world for all, then I’m happy to be part of the solution. The world is always ready for a new artist with a purpose.
- Do you feel your gender choices may be hindrance to your career aspirations, or actually give it more momentum?
BexX: My choices are to be free from the long-held notions that keep us in our places. It doesn’t make a difference to my existing career as a music teacher, facilitator & recording studio producer. I must admit, I was once afraid that it would. And now I want to share with others that may be thinking about coming out, that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Interestingly, I feel that I have given my own music much more momentum and more energy since wanting to present openly as Non-Binary. It now has more importance to me and to others so I’m more motivated to share it. Now that my own momentum is higher, then there is less hindrance. It’s easier to step over the negative critique and push forward when you truly believe in what you’re doing.
What I want to do is be entirely myself in order to achieve ultimate self-expression. And really encourage others to do similar. What better way to do that than identify true to myself in my gender?
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future, in or outside of music?
BexX: I love writing, I love recording, I love collaboration, I love making music videos, I love working with other musicians. But, it’s the connection with the listeners that makes it all worthwhile. When someone re-listens to a particular line and says “Ah, I really understand that now!”
Due to all the lockdowns, I haven’t had a chance to perform live as BexX yet. I have various sets that I want to take to festivals but above all, I really want to experience my music featuring in film and TV.
BexX Social networks:
Spotify Artist Profile: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6RgAqJQVRVKSXSvxtpcVRZ?si=RYH4PrChScCL3Lmur4I-Jw