MXXWLL has been Australia's best-kept secret for a minute now. After dropping Beats Vol. 1 in 2017, the man with the freshest keys and bounciest basslines in the game scored co-signs from none other than DJ Jazzy Jeff and Snoop Dogg. Fast forward to 2020 and, in addition to preparing a new album Sheeesh, he also produced Ty Dolla Sign and J. Cole's "Purple Emoji". And chances are, you've never heard of the guy until now.
The laid-back Sydney producer spoke to Complex about Australia's unlikely g-funk scene, the process of creating Sheeesh, and using social media to work with the biggest names in the game.
Your first release [Beats Vol. 1] is something I still listen to. I put it in rotation with Doc Mastermind and B. Bravo and these sort of artists, and I’m curious what you would call this genre you’re in.
I used to be calling it future funk, but at the same time that's kind of become like a meme, like kind of a part of the vaporwave aesthetic. I was really trippin because like, I was really thinking at the time that that was some new shit and then I look on YouTube and there's a whole parody video on this genre called ‘future funk’ and I'm like 'what? ok this is a thing'. [laughs]. So I dunno, I guess like modern funk?
XL Middleton is big on calling it modern funk
Yea, Dam Funk too. I'm cool to take lead from them. At the same time though you don't really want to wrap everything into a package.
Why is that?
I draw inspiration from so many different things, like on the Sheeesh record, there's stuff that is reminiscent of g-funk but there's also stuff reminiscent of '90s R&B, there's jazzy elements, there's so much in there. I try to just put whatever I like and combine it into something and then however it comes out is however it comes out.
I’m a big g-funk guy, but also I’m a little older than you. Regulate ... G-Funk Era dropped when I was young and impressionable, it makes sense for me to love this genre. But I’m curious how someone from the next generation has ended up carrying the torch for the music of my adolescence.
When I was a bit younger, there was a dude I used to go and blaze with. We were living out in Hornsby, and for whatever reason, he was always playing some g-funk. And like, nobody, nobody at my school or anything had any idea about this shit. I was at this dude's house all the time, and he was playing Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, Warren G, he was playing deep cuts of west coast g-funk and I just listened to so much of that from the age of like 14, 15. After that I ended up making all different kinds of music; house, drum & bass, all sorts of other EDM projects. But then when I came back to hip-hop, that was the music that soundtracked that 14, 15, 16 year-old me. It felt good to come back to that.
I've connected previously with Sergiio, and Amin Payne, both of them are big on g-funk, and there’s probably others out there. Do you find it strange that you're one of a handful of Australian artists making g-funk in 2020? Like it's unusual that we have a g-funk scene.
[laughs] I mean, shit ... maybe? But at the same time, Australia has a knack for a lot of pretty niche things. Even though it's a smaller amount of people, it’s almost like, because we're distanced, there's like a yearning to keep that sound. I just love the sound of it so much and just wanted to pay it forward, study and learn how to do it.
Speaking of learning how to do it, I was watching you on IG Live and heard you say you taught yourself to play via YouTube tutorials?
There's this one dude, I think it comes under Phat Chords. It's just like, it's perfect for the way I like to learn. The way I learned chords and playing keys, in general, is just like learning a new progression and just try to remember what the hand shapes are doing. I'm starting to learn theory but up until last year it was just like 'does it sound cool? If it sounds good, let's roll with that.' I've got a few chords that I always go to, then I'll watch a tutorial and that'll show you a whole bunch of new shit. And I'll be like 'how can I get this one chord to work in with the chords I already know?’
So you're self-taught?
Yea, I more or less taught myself. But I also got to hang out with a bunch of other cool keys players that have shown me bits and pieces here and there. If I get into a session with someone who I know is bad on the keys, we'll just do a back and forth, show each other chords that we like, and just learn that way. That's the most organic and most satisfying way to learn, when you can sit down with someone and they'll show you how they use that shit and you'll be like 'oh ok! This is powerful!' [laughs]