Approaching 2018, we were confident that XamVolo had the necessary tools and ambition to make some jaw-dropping neo-soul music. Even so, we were surprised by the multimedia presentation of his latest offering, A Damn Fine Spectacle – pairing the filmic concepts of The Elephant Room creative team with his rich, layered and conceptual four-track EP. The short film series is premiering via Notion at present, alongside an in-depth interview about the relationship between the visual and the musical.
Looking beyond the project, we caught up with the progressive RnB vocalist to ask about future multimedia plans, his feelings on the scene around him and the evolution of his live performances. Catch XamVolo’s spot at our Sounds from the Other City stage next week.
Congratulations on A Damn Fine Spectacle and the accompanying short films – both are masterful productions! Was the EP concept a long time in the making and do you think realising ideas through multiple mediums is something you’ll want to take forward with future studio projects?
XamVolo: ‘A Damn Fine Spectacle was more to establish my sound and themes so people know how to approach them. The EP was intended to work as a side story of sorts; I wanted to ease people into a world I was building around the theme of desire – A Damn Fine Spectacle focuses on the rise and fall of a desperate character, asking how far she would go and how much she was willing to lose to obtain the lifestyle she desires. The wider project deals with the same idea but with a lot more detail, things are due to take a slightly different turn.’
We’re excited for your Sounds from the Other City set in Salford next month. How has the live show evolved in the last 12 months and does the festival format present challenges and opportunities to play around?
XV: ‘Live shows have always been fun. My band and I have played so many shows the last few months – plus we practice a lot – so we can just focus on having fun on stage now. I’ve always liked festivals, especially ones with great energy. I’m a fan of good sound on stage and our rig is a little more complex, so sometimes a soundcheck would be ideal beforehand, but when it all works well it’s great.’
There are so many exciting acts breaking through in British neo or electronic-soul at present: Alxndr London, Olivia Nelson and Boadi to name but a few. Does it feel like an exciting time to be creating and are there other artists you’re vibing off at present that deserve a name check?
XV: ‘There are a couple of people doing great things in the UK at the moment. There isn’t a massive UK scene around the type of stuff I do at the moment – save for a NAO, Tom Misch or Jordan Rakei and a handful of other electronic neo-soul artists – but there’s a lot bubbling under the surface. There are a couple I’m excited about, but I’m still watching.’
We’ve just heard your spot on Jamz Supernova’s 1xtra show and are excited for the forthcoming short films – what else do you have lined up for 2018? Any concrete plans or are you open to invitations and following your intuition?
XV: ‘I’m open to anything great – a lot has happened this year already, I’m looking forward to putting out new music and meeting new people. Roll on 2018.’