XVII: A Fresh Future Face, on a Dream Chase

June 30, 2015 -

Daily Beat Staff

Trap, Future Bass, or Beat music, no matter the terminology used, it is undeniable that this experimental/bass driven Genre has taken the electronic music world by storm and found a firm place in our culture. In this niche scene, oversaturated with generic 808’s and low-end sounds copy & pasted from beat port sample packs, few artists have found a way to standout from the crowd. However, the bass gods have heard our cries of mediocrity, and Rob Hughes hailing from Manitoba, Canada, and producing under the alias XVII (ex-vee-eye-eye or seventeen, either or), is the answer to our frustrations.

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To those of you who were raging out at EDC this June, his music will sound familiar to you. Reason being, is that Rob’s tracks were played there by major artists such as Alison Wonderland, Grandtheft, and Flosstradamus.

All too often people (& I’m just as guilty) just assume that these artists are larger than life personalities, living a fantasy life, and sitting in their cozy studios collecting paychecks from their music, but that’s not the case. We sat down with Rob prior to EDC, as he recently moved to LA with his girlfriend, to get to know him and find out the inside scoop for an up and coming artist...

Brian (Daily Beat): Who is XVII and what is your musical background?

Rob (XVII): Hi guys, my name is Rob Hughes aka XVII or seventeen, whatever you want to call me, and I’m From Manitoba, Canada. I’m a classically trained musician, having played piano for 16 years, going on 17. *laughs* At first I hated it, all the intense training and practice, but my mother really helped me to stay on track with it. She kept me going until I actually achieved what we Canadians call the medal of excellence in Manitoba. Basically, out of all the musically trained children in Manitoba, I actually received a medal for being the best pianist in my province. It was based off a written test and a performance that I had to do. It was such a great life achievement that I feel really set the tone for me to be who I am today.

Brian: Well Rob, Being from Manitoba, Canada what’s the dance music scene like there?

Rob: Well from my experience it’s almost non-existent, or it’s not like the scene in LA. I had one show back home where I opened up for Keys N' Krates and another where I opened up for Grandtheft. Actually, I didn’t even open for them, I was the resident-dj’s opener *rob laugh’s*, it was just club politics, who knows.

Brian: Are there any artists or people that influence your sound?

Rob: Well my mother obviously introduced me to music, so she started it for me. But as an artist who has recently branched off into trap sound and experimental future bass music. I would like to say Flume and RL Grime have been very inspirational for me. However though, I don’t really want to box myself into one genre, I’d love to make all kinds of music, music that makes people move. Also, my girlfriend Cheney Ray who also produces under her own project titled CRAY (clever right?), has kept me in line and made me a better person. Basically, I learn from those who love me just as much as I love them.

Brian: From the first song I heard from you, your remix of Alison Wonderlands “U Don’t Know” it was Love at first listen. That sweeping melodic future bass synth really got to me. Can you explain to me how that sound came about, and what we can expect from it?

Rob: I basically just experimented with different sounds and tools on Ableton until I figured out a unique way to manipulate that particular synth. It is also featured on my track with Andrew Luce and my new Flume remix. People really dig it a lot, TWRK played it to a crowd and so did Flosstradamus. I recently had the chance to actually meet Alison (Wonderland) and she had no idea who I was at first. I introduced myself and told her I was the one who made the “U don’t know” remix that she’s been playing a lot and she just about lost it. She told me how she doesn’t even play her original and how she prefers dropping my version to the crowd. It was such an honor for me to hear her say that. As far as that sound goes I’m trying to keep that recognizable style, but not have it get stale, I want people to crave that XVII sound.

Brian: Also I’ve noticed your love of orchestral sounding brass instruments. How did that come about?

Rob: Hmmmmm, I would have to say that RL grime influence that I mentioned really inspired me to start manipulating brass sounds. They sound epic and people really love partying to them. I’ve also noticed in movie soundtracks through the years, brass instruments in general, have always had a powerful impact on a scene.

Brian: So that new Flume remix that you mentioned before, I was absolutely blown away. What’s the back story with this?

Rob: Well, basically being a huge fan of his music I heard the leaks and previews being thrown out and I then heard it. I really loved it but it doesn’t follow that more traditional format of music that people like to rage out and have fun to. I just thought that maybe I could make my own version and that’s exactly what I did. I mean don’t get me wrong I love his version, but I just wanted to make something people could have fun with and throw some bows to *rob laughs*. I knew that Flumes song was so fresh and that it was going to be remixed by everyone. So in my eyes I had to be the first one to do it and I had to do it right. After a 14-hour marathon session in the studio, and my girlfriend’s support, I think I did a decent job. I was able to get it out within a week of Flume’s initial release, and we actually got it to be the number one shared song on Hypemachine.com within 2 days.

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Brian: Are there any new artists that you’ve jammin’ recently that you would like to collaborate with or that you have been listening to a ton?

Rob: Well, I mean obviously my dream collaboration would be to work with Flume, but I’m not really sure if that would be possible since he performs live and all his songs have to be rehearsed prior, who knows maybe one day. Also, there’s this guy from Texas producing under the alias MEDASIN. His music is so sick, I love his stuff so much right now and wouldn’t mind working with him as well.

Brian: If there were one piece of advice you could tell an up and coming artist such as yourself what would it be?

Rob: I would have to say that you have to do it for yourself and those you love. I stayed in Manitoba for so long knowing that I had the skill and the talent to go further than home. I just had to take a gamble and move out to LA because having over 30,000 followers on Soundcloud and never having my name on a show card just didn’t sound right to me. I knew I deserve better and I recently moved out here (to LA) with my girlfriend in the hopes of achieving this. I left everything I had back home in order to make this dream come true. My job, my family (well I still skype them), and my day-to-day life responsibilities. In order to ease this a friend recommended I start a GoFundme.com account. It helped me get to America and it's been helping me eat so I’m thankful that that friend gave me that idea. Right now my music is mainly free and meant to promote my future and hopeful performances but I hope it will one day be paid for.

So, there you go guys. A unique perspective and viewpoint that is often times skipped over, as we tend to focus on the fame and glory of these artists after they are established. If there were one thing that Rob and I would like you to takeaway from this article, it is that you have to help others in life in order to help yourself succeed. His music is amazing I hope you guys are now fans of his music like I am.

If you would like to donate and have a part in making Rob's dream come true, visit his GoFundMe page. Be sure to follow XVII on Twitter & Facebook too!

- Written with love by Daily Beat Staff Writer Brian Sousa

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