Centered somewhere in-between the converging paths of Pop and R&B, the Toronto-bred artist Kirt Howell, who performs under the cognomen, Mx, has been dissecting and reformulating a unique musical niche of his own since the early age of eight. With an innate interest in all things relating to sonics, whether through a synthesizer, sequencers, guitars, or a beat-making program on the computer, the genuine talent is festering within the self-taught singer-songwriter was inevitably going to manifest into something special.
With 2020 being a year that's seen most of the world reaching for their vices as a momentary relief from the chaos, Mx finds solace in assembling and finally releasing the magnum opus of his musical catalog with his debut EP, '1010.' It's an emollient ride through four tracks that cohesively spell out an emotional storyline that twirls like a sinuous drive through the roads of heartbreak, converging on routes through unrequited love and eventual landing in catharsis.
With a well-enunciated and redolent R&B aesthetic that dips into its pop-festooned counterparts like a kid at a candy-shop, Mx's voice has a cherubic effect appended to it; with a closer examination, it's obvious his heart-bleeds with regret, some love-sick disposition, and at times frustration, giving the innocent nature behind is productions a more profound weightiness.
An opening song like "GBTH," which is an acronym for "go back to hell," Mx inaugurates his harmony-embellished adventure with a kaleidoscopic display of filtering vocal effects that echo from the void like oscillating whispers; revolving around your head and coming back to haunt you as the salubrious intoner sings, "gave my heart to a bitch, that was my mistake, she left with my estate, now I'm left to clean this mess you made." The track feels like one of those introductory minute-long interludes that give the audience a vivid idea of the profound emotions the next pieces are sure to be imbued with.
As you slip from the final hooking lines ("Satan must have sent you to take it all from me, go back to hell,") and into the smooth-crooning sections of "Wasted Love," it's easy to see the control Mx has over his curation of prismatic sonics that intertwines the essences of R&B and Pop. The meticulous attention to detail he possesses and the power he's endowed with establishes his narratives through his infatuating vocal presence on this one. The second track comes festooned with the distinctively intoxicating voice of Jazzy, who slips into the minimalistic mix when the top-line hook bends it's way into the more intimate sections of the mind, singing about repudiating love that simply just feels like a childish game: "yea you're beautiful, but you're not worth it, all this energy on wasted love." Over an ingenious instrumental that features a vibing synth-pad, some crispy cross-sticks alongside a percussive back-beat, and a quietly devastating bass-line, Mx and Jazzy unify with their melodies. And like two species of kudzu wrapping around the sinuous branches of a fruit-baring tree, they tease at you with their conducive harmonies that vacillate and redden in the sun, producing a salivation effect as they work in tandem.
It's at this point in '1010,' where thing takes a turn into an emotional bent towards bolstering the real love and relationship Mx wants. Singing with an infatuated tone and oozing with distorted vocal effects, he gives "Love You Down" a textural transformation that borders on the edge of sounding alternative and somewhat indie. In this passageway into the next emotion, the love-blind songster buzzes within the shape-shifting walls decorated with skipping back-beats, distorted and unified vocal harmonies, vivid guitars, and the subtle melody of a synth pad. It all works together to facilitate each burning transition from pre-chorus to the chorus, like a well-stocked fire.
When Mx lands in the hook ("and I'm gonna love you down, just let me know when I can, I wanna love you down, let me know and I can be there"), it's not far-fetched to assume that he might become responsible for some of the future's most infectious top-line melodies. Though each shift from section to section doesn't present as evident as some of his genre's counterparts, each song still manages to feel conformable and ultimately cohesive in their own right.
With the final moments of '1010' reaching you and as the dust settles from the previous tracks surrounding frustration with love, complete rejection, and then utter infatuation, the final emotional sequence in "R2FL" feels like the most potent yet. True to his R&B nature, Mx comes in strong with a tonality that sounds like a hyper-variation of Sam Smith. At the same time, his trademark niche of sonics presents more eclectic and more dynamic in the approach to singing about love. With a bolstering verse from the vehement talent oozing from Jimmi The Dealer, the final cut off '1010' gathers from the touchstones of hip-hop and R&B and unifies the two musical atmospheres under one sonic globe. It presents like a whiff of raw innovation, primarily when the calypso-inspired beat works ion co-operation with the irresistible hook "I'm ready to fall in love, (fall in love, fall in love, fall in love, now you got me ready to jump," or the iridescent nature of the harmonies that hoist this farewell number to the next level.
When looking back at the immersive journey that Mx delivers through '1010,' it's undeniable that the Toronto-bred talent is setting himself up for musical reign over the domains of r&b music. This specific variety speaks to the soul. Whether it be through a manifold of infatuating harmonies you can't resist, magnetized top-lines that leave an afterglow, or stunning collaborations that elevate emotion, Kirt Howell presents himself on this debut more compelling than ever—proffering a powerful weight behind his moniker, Mx, whenever it comes up in conversation.
What inspired the development of emotion you portray from track to track on '1010?' Are these sentiments that were inspired by real events from your personal life?
'1010' is set out to portray the journey of love, or at least my experience with it. Starting my life over after a 10-year relationship, I had to pick myself off the ground and find the strength to move on. Every song has its own thoughts on love/relationships. All songs were inspired by true events.
When you think back to some of the emotions that decorate '1010,' which ones had the most power over your vocal performances? Why do you think that is?
Wasted love would definitely be my pick for performance, because of how true to my story that song is. I wanted to tell my story without being bias towards my ex’s story. I feel I told the story without any bias.
How did you manage to get Jimmi The Dealer and Jazzy involved in '1010,' and what essential parts do you think they represented, or played, in your E.P.'s emotional storyline?
So Jazzy and have known each other for a few years. She’s “Rochelle Jordan’s” cousin, and I have been writing and working with her for a while and when I wrote wasted love both parts were by me but I felt it would feel better as a duet, so she came and lent her vocals. Jimmi The Dealer (el paradiso - top 40 pop world) was an artist I’ve been wanting to work with for a while but we never could coordinate the time right. So originally I had another artist who was supposed to be on the song but we didn’t end up finishing for some reason. So when Jimmi hear the empty verse it was history in the making.
Were there any impactful lessons you've learned about yourself as an artist during the production of '1010?' Is there anything you've learned about yourself emotionally?
I’ve grown so much from 1010, I’ve learned how strong I can be by myself and the importance of having people who want to see you do well around. People have energy and they are either giving it to you or taking it from you.
If you could give your listeners a few words that would act as a prologue to the experience you've set-up for them on '1010,' what would you feel the need to say?
From love, at first, sight, to never wanting to see them again, follow me on this sonic journey of love!