Saturday, January 27, 2007

Venue Research + Chinese New Year

XYL killing the mic at the Waldorf
Lately, I have been researching venue information in Tokyo, Japan and it is overwhelming. There are so many places to perform there you would not believe it. I spent eight hours mining an excellent information source on the net called Tokyo Gig Guide. It lists all the live music venues in Tokyo with their addresses and links to their respective websites. It is listed alphabetically and in all the time I spent I got halfway through the letter 'C'. Needless to say, there is a lot more work to be done.

My friend who is from Japan, sat down with me and went through all the websites to help me extract the required information as the sites are all written in Japanese. She also took my biography and cover letter to the clubs, previously translated into Japanese, and typed it out for me.

Getting the help of my friends is very important to me at this early stage of my career, especially in regards to building my identity in Asia. Of course, I have to make sure I focus on Canada first but I have to start organizing the Asian tour now and figure out my route, travel expenses, which clubs to play at as well as getting my name out there which is a mammoth task considering to sheer size and population of the Orient. I am continuing the Canadian tour reasearch as well and also I am preparing my marketing campaign for the release of my new EP.

I have been booked to perform at a Chinese New Years party on Friday, February 16th at the Firefighters' Club in Burnaby. I will be performing one song, my new single 'Prolly Drunk'. I was informed by the promoter that they are providing me with dancing girls, how cool is that? I am meeting him today to give him a copy of the song and the girls will be practicing so they have a dope routine prepared. Crazy... stay tuned kids, 2007 is just warming up for the X-Y-L.

XYL Official Website
XYL Myspace

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wordz From Tha Underground

XYL kickin it live

The first night of my monthly hip-hop event, 'Wordz From Tha Underground' on January 18th, went great! A turnout of somewhere around 80 people and a very large group of friends, all of them Asian, turned out to see me perform. My fans represented close to 50% of attendace so thank you so much to everyone who came to see me perform.

Also, it was my friend Shizuki's birthday so I borrowed a beat from my co-producer E.V. and wrote lyrics about Shizuki. I memorized them in one day and the song went well, she was extremely thrilled. Here is a pic of me and Shizuki:

XYL and Shizuki

My DJ, Tre Funk, was unfortunately unable to make it out but kudos to Steve, SPM's DJ, for repping the turntables in his absence.

It seems that I am more and more tapping into the Asian community here in Vancouver and I will continue to cater to that fanbase as well as make every attempt to gain new fans. This is a great way to help establish myself in Asia as most of these people are students and will be returning to their native countries to help spread the word. I have also been booked to perform at a Chinese New Year's celebration which is awesome and another step towards my goals as the audience will obviously be primarily Asian. Until next time, I'll leave you with a couple of photos with fans from that night:

XYL with cute girls!

XYL with fans at the Lamplighter

XYL Official Website
XYL Myspace

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In the Studio

I was in the studio yesterday recording a new song called 'Make Way'. These days, I am working with E.V. from A-Slam Productions ( as we work effeciently and he understands exactly the sort of sound I am looking for.

I come from a musical background so my style of composition may be different than a lot of producers. I tend to write one main melody and a secondary melody on a guitar or piano and then go into the studio, play the music on E.V.'s keyboard and from that point, choose from the thousands of different sounds in his computer. After establishing the tempo and recording the primary melody, we move on to the secondary melody and then often come up with some other stuff to layer on top. Then it is time to set up the drum beat. At this point, we only have a generic one-two bass drum-snare beat going just to set the tempo so now we create a specific drumbeat and once again choose from thousands of different sound options for the snare, hi-hat, bass drum, cymbols, ect. E.V. really likes to combine different sounds together and for 'Make Way' we created a massive horn section that has nine different sounding horns together!

We also cut out a verse and chorus from the last song I recorded, 'Prolly Drunk', as it was originally over 4 minutes long. This may not seem like much but for radio play it is too long. Also, I will be shooting the video for 'Prolly Drunk' in late February or early March so four minutes is too much space to fill in a music video and maintain interest. Well, at least with my meagre 500$ budget it is. There will be more details coming for the video shoot soon.

I am very stoked about this new track 'Make Way' and I believe it has definite hit potential. The new EP will be out in Feb or March so stay tuned for further details as well as info on where to hear the tracks and where to buy it. For now, you can listen to a preview of my 'Prolly Drunk' song here: Go to the 'Downloads' section and scroll down to track number 18.

Well that's all for now, got the 'Wordz from Tha Underground' show tommorrow (Jan.18) at the Lamplighter(210 Abbott St.) and I'll also be performing at the Columbia(303 Columbia St.) friday at like 2 AM. Should be interesting... I'll have a full report and pics up here after. Peace!

XYL Official Website
XYL Myspace

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Organizing the Tour

XYL Rockin the Mic
I am currently working with Sean McKay and SPM Music (SPM Website) to book a Canadian tour sometime this year. The tour booking process is very time consuming and consists of work which can only be described as pretty damn boring. Researching venue information for the different provinces and cities in Canada and figuring out who is in chanrge of booking each club, what their contact info is, ect. is all part of the process and can definitely get monotonous. To break up the boredom, I generally get completely drunk until I can no longer type properly and the screen becomes a blur. Then I know I've done enough work for the day.

In addition to figuring out all these details, I really have to work to raise awareness of myself and my music across the country, otherwise there is really no point to the whole thing. If no one knows who I am, who's going to come see my show? So, when I release my new promo CD in February I will be working hard to get it played on a multitude of radio stations across Canada as well as trying to get media coverage whenever possible. My marketing plan is not finalized yet but rest assured it will be a carefully thought out and will include the use of street teams who can spread my music around and let people know what's up with XYL.

At the same time, I will be launching a marketing campaign in Asia too. I got some very awesome people down in Japan and Korea who can help me out and I will be recruiting more and more people to join the XYL Street Team. I'm starting a movement y'all so get ready... I will be everywhere.

For the next couple of days I will be doing venue research and working on getting this blog listed on as many sites as possible which, once again, is monotonous office work that will be complemented by the liberal use of recreational drugs and that oh-so-legal liquid narcotic we know as alcohol. One of my new songs, 'Prolly Drunk', chronicles my alcoholism in a humorous way, you will hear it soon.

Thanks to all taking the time to read this, I will be updating it on the regular. Stay tuned, the more this is updated, the more things are happening and the closer I get to my goal of worldwide domination. Peace out!

XYL Official Website
XYL Myspace

Saturday, January 6, 2007

This is how I live...

XYL Promotional Photo
My name is Jesse and I am a Vancouver-based rapper called XYL(pronounced 'Exile'). In this blog I hope to let you in on my day-to-day grind to elevate my career and become internationally recognized. My goal is to blow up in Canada, the US, the Orient and everywhere else. I am particularly interested in Asia and hope to perform in China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. I am currently studying Korean and have gotten into some Japanese as well and most of my current fans are from Asia.

I generally perform in Vancouver around two to three times per month though I am trying to cut this down to once to allow me more time to focus on marketing and publicity planning and studying. I am also a show promoter and often put together the shows I am playing at. My next performance will be an event I've organized called 'Wordz From Tha Underground' on January 18th at the Lamplighter in Gastown (210 Abbott Street). Doors are at 9, Show starts at 9:30 and cover charge is 8$. Below is a Q&A with me concerning the event:

Q: What made you decide to start ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’?
Vancouver city is known for its hip hop. Despite that fact, there is not a lot of support for the underground rap scene here. When a big-name rap artist comes through town, the show is sold out but I have found that the same people won’t necessarily come out and support the local artists. With ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’ I am trying to raise awareness of the immense talent that exists within Vancouver. I am making every possible effort to promote this event and ensure that the artists who perform have an audience to perform to. I hope to get underground artists noticed by the public so they can gain more recognition and build their identities.

Q: How do you feel about the current state of the Vancouver live hip hop scene?
A: I know I’ve said it before but we have some serious talent here that so many people don’t even realize. MCs that would blow your mind as well as incredible DJs and producers. The majority of the live hip hop I have seen is excellent, great performances and a very unified vibe, the exact opposite of the negativity and ‘beef’ that is so often associated with hip hop music.
The only issue I have come across is low show turnout. I don’t necessarily think this is a genre-specific problem, as getting people out to live shows in Vancouver is difficult regardless of the style of music. People want name-recognition, they want to see an artist whose songs they know, they generally aren’t open to taking a chance on acts they’re never heard or seen before. With ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’ however, I am booking only quality acts so I can guarantee that as long as you dig hip hop, you will enjoy the show.

Q: What is the line-up like for the first night of the event?
Headlining the event we have Manik, a veteran of the local rap scene and an amazingly talented MC. He recently won the ‘Song Clash’ competition at club Sonar where 18 hip hop acts square off to show who has the best original material and stage presence. Manik also just release a video for his song ‘Commercial Drive’, based on that same famous Vancouver street.
Then there is KEEP 6, a group of MCs with serious skills. Kai, formerly of Methods of Mayhem with Tommy Lee, is producing their beats and their lyrical ability is show-stopping.
Also, I will be on the bill with my DJ Tre Funk. I have been playing live shows on the regular here and have one EP under my belt, ‘Twisted Genius’. I just finished recording a new single which I will be performing in addition to the material from my EP. I will be touring Canada in 2007 and am working to build my identity in Asia, specifically Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. I am expecting to tour those countries in 2008.
Character Traits, a 5-piece group from Nanaimo on Vancouver island will be representing and I expect them to fully kill it. They have just released their second album, ‘Pencil Pushers’, have just finished recording a video and have opened for big names such as Sweatshop Union and Kyprios.
Last on the agenda is 526 Music out of Burnaby. A little bit of hip hop, a little bit of R&B and a lot of talent. They are new on the scene but are sure to make big moves as their career develops. Hopefully ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’ can help them get noticed.

If you got the time, check out my website here:
And here is my myspace page:

I have one EP under my belt, 'Twisted Genius', which is kinda a different approach to the standard hip hop formula. I used almost all live instruments and had a live drummer lay down the beats. I dig some of the songs on there but I have decided to not press up any more copies and instead focus on my new material. The new songs I am currently working on have much higher production value and are more commercially viable. It's a struggle I've gone over in my head but the bottom line is, if I want international recognition I have to make songs that are somewhat mainstream. I have three new songs forthcoming which I will release on a promo CD and then I will be launching a marketing campaign to raise awareness as well as keep recording until I have a full-length record. Stay tuned for the new stuff, it truly does kick ass. In the meantime, you can log onto my website or myspace to hear my current material.