“I was never the coolest kid in the class. If you look back four years ago and said that this kid’s music’s going to go crazy, I wouldn’t have believed it all. At all. But life catches you off-guard, and sometimes you have to follow your heart and follow what’s in front of you,” he tells us.
The Indiana-raised artist who has resided everywhere from Connecticut to Belgium paved his own way in the digicore/SoundCloud scene, crafting tracks like the glitchy 2021 hyperpop single “Trying” as a high schooler.
Currently attending Belmont University in Nashville (where some of his latest project, Better Luck Next Time, was created), midwxst provides an eclectic array of records that detail the gut-wrenching aftermath of heartbreak. With a maturation in sound and content, he finds solace in crafting ultra-vulnerable lyrics and music his peers can relate to.
Speaking with the rising star from the Simple Stupid offices over Zoom, he pulls up some cherished images on his phone in an endearing, show-and-tell type of manner. Whether sharing Japanese streetwear brands or his list of recently played music (Clairo, Kendrick Lamar, BabyTron, Jungle, Outkast), he beams with unbridled enthusiasm. Striving to be a beacon of light for his generation, he elicits heartfelt candor when the topic of mental health arises.
“I want to at least be able to provide comfort to kids and show them that [someone] understands. To feel, ‘He gets what I want to do. He understands and feels the way I do.’ That’s how I felt with the artists that I love the most. With Tyler, with Frank, with Kanye. I wouldn’t have liked them as much if I didn’t like what they were doing,” he explains.
Learn more about midwxst in our interview below. Watch the video for his latest single “sidelines” now and catch him performing at the Life Is Beautiful Festival in September.
7-Eleven is a sponsor of the Life is Beautiful Festival. It’s Brainfreeze Season at 7-Eleven and they’ll be dropping music and fashion prizes every Friday through September 6. Learn more about the program and how to win here.
You grew up on Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, and Kanye. Can you discuss what drew you to their work?
At the end of the day, the storytelling elements that they had in their music. Like, they were able to captivate you and keep you entertained. They would actually genuinely pull something from their heads and make fantasy feel like it’s real life. The way that Tribe did it, the way that “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It?” and all of those songs, they give you a certain kind of vibe, and you feel good off of it. Graduation by Kanye is like a feel-good album. You go ahead and listen to some of those cuts and hear them beats, get inspired. It lifts you up.
They’re also creating an entirely new soundscape for you and an entirely new experience for you as a listener. A lot of people overlook a lot of the small things, but at the end of the day, my writing is rap style, rap-based. I rhyme the end of each sentence with one another. At the end of the day, I’m still writing, making music as if it was rap song. It’s just sometimes it turns out to not be rap.
I read that you have enough material for an R&B project.
I can confidently say… Hold on, let me check what my SoundCloud says. I have over 400 unreleased songs.
Wow. Would you want to dabble in different genres? Maybe put out a jazz album or something?
Bro, a jazz album would be crazy! Jazz album would be crazy if I could bring Glenn Miller back from the dead. I would go crazy. I might just have one of my friends sample “American Patrol / Moonlight Serenade” and have him throw it over a drill beat or something. Just imagine 808s… mad distorted! That’s the best way though. Why you think I like Dougie B so much? People look at me, and they don’t expect me to listen to half the music I listen to. I be listening to Beethoven. I be listening to classical music to study. I listen to the soundtrack for Zelda, Akame ga Kill! All of that. I listen to a bunch of weird stuff.
Mental health is a big topic in your work, and I know you struggled with depression and ADHD meds. Why do you think it’s so important to address these issues?
With me, it’s like, I want people to understand and live in my shoes. I want you to really feel what I’m saying because it’s true. There are days where, “every day that I wake up / never feel like I’m enough.” There are days like that. There are days where I do get tired of trying, but I push through it and I persevere. I want to be the voice of kids who feel the same way I did, who don’t fit in at school, who may be a little shorter than their classmates, but still have the fuckin’ pride of a lion. I want to be able to save people.
I don’t want you to think that death is the only route that you can escape what you’re feeling. I don’t want you to think that the only way that you’re going to find peace is eternally. I don’t want anyone to ever have to think or go through those things because those are scary thoughts, and it can be very harming if you’re already in a very negative mood or in a bad social setting. If you’re around enablers of people, they’re not going to help you in your best interest. People have to understand that in life, you can’t take shit for granted. You don’t have that privilege. Tomorrow’s not guaranteed for any of us, yet so many people carry their life on like it is.
“Lock It Up” with Yeat and Matt Ox is one of your most popular tracks. Can you tell us how that record came about?
I’ll tell you how it came about. I pulled up to L.A. because I had a session with Whethan, so I pulled up to Whethan’s crib. While we’re chillin’, I tell him, “Yo, I want to make some triumphant shit. I want to make some crazy shit,” and then he pulled that beat out, and I was like, “Word! That’s how you feel?” I instantly started bopping my head to it. Matt Ox literally texted me two minutes before that, and he was like, “What you on?” I was like, “Yo, I’m at Whethan’s. You should pull up on me.” He said, “Aight, bet.”
So then, like an hour later, he pushed up on me. I had already gone in and done my verse, and I was just chillin’, so he pulls up. I met his mom, I met some random girls. That was the first time that we had linked because we hadn’t linked before… July 8th of 2021 is how long that song has been made. It’s just been coolin’. And then Whethan texts me one day, “Yo, I think we about to get another feature on your song.” I was like, “Word? Who is it?” He said, “I’ll let you know when we confirm.” I was like, “Aight, bet.”
He texted me. He said, “It’s Yeat.” I was like, “I’m not mad at that. Hard.” Bro, me and my friends bump so much of that. It’s kinda bad. My DJ, Charlie Shuffler, when we on tour, I have to tell him, “Please no Yeat tonight,” ‘cause he plays it out so much sometimes, but it’s so funny. It’s so hard.
Better Luck Next Time is the ultimate breakup project. Can you share the mindset you had while recording it?
I already knew that was finna to be a heartbreak album and it wasn’t even me truly tapped into the harshness. When I made that album, like the EP, a lot of the songs came from just moments of time and stints that I felt really bad that day. It’s hard breaking up. It’s hard detaching yourself from somebody, especially if you’ve spent a large amount of time with them. Not even just with them, but genuinely together. It’s really hard to detach yourself from a person like that, but with me, it’s just like, “Bro, put it in music. It’s not gonna hurt you.” So then after that, I just took it by storm. I just loved it.
“On My Mind” is such a great closer, and I heard some of your friends sang on the track. Do you have any more interesting behind-the-scenes stories while recording?
“Riddle” and “Shame” were both off of an EP that I had scrapped, but they were both some of my favorite songs I’ve ever made, so I moved them over. Originally I had another album which was supposed to be more of a concept about ego death, and the fact that you are human. At the end of the day, we’re all mortal, we all have emotions, we all have feelings. Talking about getting off of your god plane level of thinking and coming down and being grounded. That’s how it was originally going to be. It was just me. I was deadass heartbroken. I cried to some of my friends. I was on the phone with my mom sniffling, all of that. The whole 10 yards because it hurt, especially at the start of college. It was mad weird adjusting to everything and getting my settings right, acclimated while I’m also in emotional distress. But one day I just sat down and I made “Misery.” And then after that, I was just like, “I need to go crazy.”
You’re performing at the Life Is Beautiful Festival in September. How are you feeling about that? Especially with a stage and an audience that big, is there extra stress or do you feed off of that kind of energy?
To be honest, no. I love performing. The larger the crowd, the more it fuels my energy on stage. I don’t care how many people I perform for, I’m gonna give my all on that stage like there’s ten thousand people in the crowd when there’s only ten people there.
Knowing that you’ve got eclectic taste, is there anyone else on that Life Is Beautiful lineup that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m excited to see Jungle, Young Nudy, and JPEGMafia. They all go hard.
What’s your personal experience with festivals? Did you go to any as a fan, and any favorite memories?
I had never went to a festival before Summer Smash last year. I was performing at the afterparty and went to the actual festival in the daytime. My favorite memory is performing on the main stage of Day N Vegas at the age of 18. That was really cool.
Did college life live up to your expectations?
Go Bruins! I was getting turnt. Just know I have fun. Nashville is a fun ass town. They had some cool shit. They had house shows. They didn’t have house parties. They’d have bands performing at some cribs and shit. Sometimes you pull up, and it’d be like whole bands, rock bands, alt bands, indie bands. They had some bonfires. Bro, I was out there living my life. I had a cool ass friend group. I was untouchable. I was unmatched.
You went to fashion camp and you’ve dropped merch that’s done really well. Are you planning on doing a clothing brand in the future?
I’m planning on doing a lot of things. I really want to do, like, a separate brand on some dolo shit. Focused on just making sure the quality is good, designs are good. I don’t want to copy anything from anybody ‘cause a lot of the way I dress I take a lot of inspo from early ‘90s, early 2000s back when Billionaire Boys Club was that… I’m a BAPE head. I got on Bapestas right now. Like, I love Bapestas. I love Undercover. Damn near anything Japanese. Ice Creams. Dawg, don’t get me started on the Ice Creams. The Running Dog jeans. Iconic…
I have ideas for a lookbook, you know, a trailer, and the way I want to be and all of these things because the creative side of things is what I love. I love it. It was my idea for the “Trying” music video to even have a vibe switch midway through that would shift the entire atmosphere of the video to go from bright colors and pastels to blacks and darks. I just want to be able to create something that I know I’ll be proud of and something that’s gonna be fire, be straight-up just hard.
What can you tell us about your collab with Pi’erre Bourne?
You got to talk to Pi’erre about that one. I’m cool and I’m chillin’ over here. I really want to, you know? It’s coming for sure. It definitely is. Like, I just be bullshittin.’ I’m not gonna lie.
Wait, so there is actually a collab, right?
Nah, nah, nah. I’m deadass serious. There was a throwaway off of Back in Action that was supposed to be with Pi’erre, but it just didn’t get cleared in time, and then there was supposed to be me, Ken Carson, and Pi’erre, but I don’t know. You gotta tell me on that one. Me and Pi’erre just be working. We don’t even text about music. We just be texting each other like, “Hey, man. Hope you had a good day, man.” “You too, gang.” Straight back and forth.
What’s next? I heard you have a new single coming soon.
June 29th. It’s called “Broken.” Whethan actually helped produce on it with San Holo. It’s just kind of a full-circle moment for me ‘cause I used to listen to San Holo as a kid. Like, I don’t know if there’s anybody out there that knows, but he had that song, [sings] “I just wanna see / I just wanna see the light.” That shit had a chokehold around like 2018. So I have that song coming out, and then I’m excited to put something out afterwards too. There’s a lot to look forward to, especially for this year.