Xavier Dunn the Sydney based musician is releasing his newest EP ‘Isic Tutor’ on the 18th of May. Before releasing his newest production which includes a total of 5 new songs, Xavier was able to fit us in his tight schedule to have a chat with us about his present career, his latest release, and future projects.
First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself. Did you always want to be a musician/artist?
I always knew I was going to do something around music. With both my parents as music teachers, I was thrown into all the bands and orchestras from a young age. I really boxed myself in and threw all my focus into music because I wanted to excel at that beyond anything else.
How did your style develop? Growing up, did you have any particular musical influences that inevitably shaped your sound?
Growing up I loved Elton John, Billy Joel, Queen, and Enya. All the classics really. Through high school, I loved chill acoustic guitar music and wrote more of that style… And then in uni, it was more experiential alt-rock prog music with some mates. I eventually moved out of that line and started producing music as I wanted a way to record my chamber music and I couldn’t afford to get someone else to record me.
What instruments do you play? Do you find that you’re constantly learning new instruments to add to your repertoire?
I started with piano – my dad taught me. And then I moved onto Double Bass and Bass Guitar, Mum taught me from an early age. Then Drums, Guitar, Mandolin, Cello and a small stint on Trombone, but I think I liked singing more so than brass. So I just play the things with my hands and feet mostly. I don’t really have time to learn any more instruments at the moment. But I love creating and playing with new synths and sequences.
You’ve noted that your latest track ‘Warming’ is “a sweet track full of angst…chronicling the successes and failures of a relationship”, and your lyrics, in general, have been described as ‘deeply personal’ – is that what comes to you most naturally?
I try when writing my own material not to think too much about the words and just try & pain my feelings instead. I try to focus on the overarching theme and how it makes me feel. I make music cos I wanna listen to something that I haven’t heard before.
Do you ever make a conscious effort to write about a certain theme?
Definitely not. I just try to write what I’m feeling at the time, and most of the time the feeling of inspiration rolls over me like a wave and I have to stop what I’m doing and just jump straight into it and not stop until it’s done.
More personally, do you find yourself chasing certain kinds of emotions for a creative burst?
I think I used to in my early 20’s, but now that I’m a bit older I just enjoy the work I do. Being able to create those feelings without going through them is true magic.
What is your typical songwriting process? Do you find that you start with the lyrics and then introduce arrangements or vice versa?
When creating a song I like to put down the chords first and get a feel going, then I’ll hunt the vocal melody. Usually, that’ll inspire the words that most fit the syllables I use in the melody. That melody will then help write the beat that goes with it as well.
Who do you listen to in your downtime? Do you have a favorite genre, or are there any that you steer clear of?
In my down time, I usually put on Bon Iver, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds and/or James Blake.
‘Isic Tutor’ is an absolute earworm! Can you tell me how that track came about?
I was playing a game called ‘Battleborn’ and the character ‘Isic’ had some pretty insightful things to say that taught me a lot. Hence ‘Tutor’. I don’t really play it anymore, but the memory holds strong. Those insightful things helped me through a break-up, as weird as it sounds and just became the song name!
You’ve worked with many well-known artists, such as Jack River, NGHTMRE & Carmada, and Nina Las Vegas; how did you tee-up these collaborations?
Through the sweet team that I have surrounding me, and also the connections I make from working with one person always tend to lead to another. The trick is to just continue to doing good hard work. Because 9/10 people will want to work with someone who is dedicated over talented.
Do you have any advice for other young producers?
Nothing is a mistake and never stopping.
What has been your favorite festival/ support slot/ headline show so far in your career, and why?
Opening for Broods with Vera Blue was a lot of fun. Great big shows with such a great audience. Made me feel uber loved.
Who would be your dream touring partner, or support act for your own headline shows?
I would love to tour with LANKS, Dustin Tebbutt, and Hayden Calnin someday. Maybe someday.
Hailing from Sydney yourself, do you have an opinion about the Lockout laws and their effect on the local live music scene? Have these laws affected you and your ability to book/play shows in and around the city?
Def, they have stifled the music community and finding great live venues is getting harder and harder. Its def made me wanna go out less and less, but maybe that’s just because I’m getting old. Probs that too.
If your music could be featured in any movie or television series, what would it be and why?
SKINS! When it was hot a couple years back. Maybe on Blue Planet – that documentary would be awesome. Something with David Attenborough.
Do you have any tour plans?
No plans as of yet, but keen to get the ball rolling once this EP is out!
Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
That if you wanna get into music, just start with yourself and other people will gravitate towards you. Also, don’t be scared of help. Help is awesome.
On behalf of Fashion Industry Broadcast, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.
Xavier Dunn is someone to look up in the Australian music scene. Check out his newest tunes here!