Los Angeles based Pop artist KAI XO is here to stay, recently releasing his groundbreaking single “XO”. As a classically trained singer, KAI XO has made waves across L.A. by being a soloist in the Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles, singing background for other artists, and performing at eminent events across the city. His latest track “XO” brings his authentic nature and skilled lyric writing to the forefront. While embodying themes of moving on from past love, and growing from unfortunate experiences, KAI XO has shaped his music not only a poetic way, rather in a conceptual way as well.
While capturing staple pop elements in his single “XO”, the underlying production also serves aspects of R&B creating a dark and rhythmic sensation throughout the entirety of the song. As KAI XO’s vocals take center stage, we’re moved by his ability to portray the likes of an unhealthy relationship and moving on for the better. That being said, we’re all the more captivated by KAI XO’s intoxicating and soaring vocals overtop of his powerful dark pop production. With clever lyrics like “Don’t want your XOXO, just wanna “ex” you out of my heart”. It’s without a doubt that KAI XO has brought an introspective, dynamic and energetic atmosphere through his single “XO” and we’re anticipating what he’ll come up with next.
Listen to "XO" from KAI XO, here.
Hey KAI XO! Welcome to BuzzMusic! We’re incredibly excited to feature your compelling single “XO”! It’s evident that the song surrounds a relationship that went south. Could you describe the moment where you realized you needed to take your emotions and create what is now “XO”?
- I like to think that sometimes the songs I write kind of manifest themselves when they want to. Its almost as if the inspiration and the emotion behind a song don’t always come as powerfully or clearly in the thick of things as much as after some time of reflection and clarity. “XO” is an example of that. Romantically, I guess I can attribute my inspiration to a specific situation in college where I felt like I was pretty much throwing myself at someone and lines weren’t very clear and ultimately I felt like they kind of kept me around as an ego boost, you know? Eventually, though, my exhaustion outweighed my affection and that’s where the whole line “now your flame has slowly faded” really came from. It was like I finally was able to snap out of this lock this person had over me for whatever reason and I was able to see how manipulative the situation was. It would be years later before writing this song, but I think other relationships I’ve gone through more recently, even non-romantic or family ones, brought me back there and really reminded me of the importance of knowing when you’re just giving too much to a person that isn’t willing to give as much back. I think that’s something that so many of us go through all the time. Friendships can often be just as complicated or beautiful or damaging as romantic ones and this song is kind of a declaration that it is ok to move on and reclaim yourself.
The single “XO” captures a relatable story from top to bottom, and clearly displays your storytelling abilities. Could you share what your creative process was like when writing lyrics for “XO”?
When I actually sat down to write “XO” I immediately thought of the whole “love is a spell” fairy tale kind of theme and thought back on how fairy tales influenced my ideas about love growing up. As a gay boy growing up fairytales were always hard, because I felt myself wanting that Prince Charming moment like anyone else, but for some reason feared it wouldn’t happen because it wasn’t meant for me. This brought a lot of complexity to fairytales that were never really addressed, like why was the Evil Queen evil? Was it because no one loved her? Did she ever get her Prince Charming moment? So when writing my song, I have to admit, I was feeling a little more like the Evil Queen than Snow White haha! So I wanted to take this sort of magical fairytale backdrop that is usually reserved to tell a simplistic black and white story of romance, and re-work it to allow all of my complexities and mixed emotions to come through. So that first lyric “once upon a time I used to try to be the kind of guy you like in a story you designed” was really my first declaration of honesty like yeah, I spent a lot of time doing that and I’m tired. Then there’s anger in the second verse with “now your charms have been disarmed ‘cause all your power came from me” as you hurt me, but I’m stronger. Then there’s the more vulnerable moment in the bridge where I’m telling this person that they “never give something for nothing” and I’m sad that I still want them. All of those emotions are what make stories real and powerful, not just the Prince Charming moment, and I wanted to reflect that in my writing.
You’ve mentioned that you’re a classically trained singer! How do you think this has helped your sound as an artist grow to what it is today?
- Being classically trained has definitely helped me so much, especially in writing my own music. It isn’t even just the knowledge of music theory or vocal technique, but classical training reinforces the importance of discipline and respect of the craft so that its always getting better. I want people to hear my intentions in my music and enjoy the choices I make, and training just helps to focus your intuition and skill in executing it. So I’m definitely grateful for it and I’m always trying to learn more.
Your track “XO” has amazing underlying production, perfectly supporting your well-crafted message. Where did you find inspiration for the song's production and overall atmosphere?
I love a good witchy vibe haha! Which also fit perfectly with the whole magic fairytale theme I was going for. I wanted it to have a bit of a darker feel too because it is such a declaration kind of song and all about taking your power back. And also...my girl, the Evil Queen haha. I’m also a 90’s baby so I love those classic R&B grooves with some nice instrumental soundscapes in the back…it’s literally my heart. I actually produced the track on my own, but it took a while for me to kind of get everything to that sweet spot in my ear. I also think that’s why it's so important that artists are involved with the production of their music even if you collaborate with other producers or artists. When you’re writing, and producing, and singing you kind of find these natural pockets of where everything is supposed to fit and I find it all just helps me tell my story a little bit better.