With his considerable star only starting its ascent, neo-soul newcomer Xam Volo talks to Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke on the GIT Award, duality and what’s next for one of Liverpool’s fastest risers.
Though it was All We Are who grabbed the gong, and every one of our runners up were equally deserving of their place, there was one name that was on more lips than most come the end of The GIT Award ceremony last month.
That name was Xam Volo, 21 year-old architecture student by day, neo-soul wunderkind by night. After just the few minutes allocated for his single-song performance, The Kazimier was alive with the aftermath of a colossal, vibrant set that left the room reeling.
His longer shows, though sparse in number thus far, have seen similar effects, and alongside an exclusive chat with the singer himself, we’ve got an exclusive picture gallery courtesy of Getintothis’ Tomas Adam for you to get a taste of what to expect from one of Liverpool’s true fast-risers.
Getintothis: How did it feel to be nominated for the GIT Award so early on in your Career?
Xam Volo: I would say it had me feeling resolute. Having people who’ve found their place in the industry tell me that I’m doing something right can’t be anything but energizing. Since the nomination my confidence has increased and so has my motivation. Working harder than ever these days.
GIT: How did you find the night?
XV: I would say it was one of the most organized events I’ve been to in Liverpool – everything went well: the bands were all great, the attendees were all enthusiastic – a great vibe all around. The sound was good too both on and off the stage; the whole thing was smooth.
GIT: What have been your other highlights of a relatively short career this far?
XV: Well I opened for Bipolar Sunshine with my new band at The Kazimier a few days before the Award night, played Threshold at the end of March too – those gigs are the first ones I’ve done in Liverpool. I guess I’m taking things slow, just making sure everything’s in place before I go full-on, no point doing something half-prepared or half-heartedly.
GIT: You’ve only just started doing live shows with a full band, was it easy to get into the swing of it?
XV: It was fairly easy, actually. There hasn’t been much stress over that side of things. I may not have played live much but I’ve been playing gigs in my head for ages, hah.. My band members are all experienced musicians and even then they’ve all said our rehearsals tend to be unusually efficient. The show can only get better from here.
GIT: How have you found the process of working with other musicians?
XV: It’s interesting. It’s new territory, but one thing I notice is how it makes things ‘pleasantly impersonal’ – all of a sudden you can hear a piece you’ve become attached to through the ears of another musician – and that’s just when it’s one. When it’s five other musicians (my current band) all interpreting things from their perspective, filtering it through their musical experience, out comes a familiar sound with brand-new vibe. I reckon such collaborations have been the ultimate feedback for me in a weird way.
GIT: Is there anyone in Liverpool or beyond who you’d like to collaborate with/are planning to?
XV: Not currently, but I’m always searching. I think I need to make sure my identity is properly established before I can put my name next to someone else’s on a record, though. When the right people know exactly what I’m about – myself included – the collaborations will be obvious.
GIT: What sort of direction would you like to see the shows progress in?
XV: I honestly don’t know – just bigger, for now. Bigger and better. Will probably experiment with recreating signature sounds on the record live. I’m trying to see more amazing, creative gigs and events to get ideas. Not all my ideas can be brought to life right this moment but I’ll keep pushing forward.
GIT: The live shows we’ve seen so far have been pretty big sounding, intense affairs, which is perhaps at odds with the more mellow sound of the Binary in Blue EP. Is upcoming material going to mirror the live sound a bit more? Or do you enjoy having the two sides of your music more separate?
XV: Currently I quite like the duality. My current EP is more soul and neo-Soul, but most of my band members come from more of a heavier rock and Metal background. I tend to let my music receive influence from whichever environment I find myself in – Liverpool has much larger ‘Rock-Spectrum’ scenes than an ‘Urban’ scene so I’ve seen some of my more recently written material start moving that way – seems to go down well so far. I think moving forward we’ll create a closer interpretation on stage, but maybe not all the time. Got to keep them guessing a little bit.
GIT: Lastly when are we going to hear some new material? And are there any upcoming gigs you’d like to plug?
XV: I’m working on new stuff right now, even. All will be revealed, come June. Come and see me at Sefton Park for the LIMFestival on the 30th of August.