Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson sits down with LSDXOXO in his Berlin apartment to discuss his first musical release in almost three years: “WAITING 2 EXHALE”. They discuss his process, why its taken this long to release, white commodification of dance music and how black voices are steering a revolutionary time in techno music.
You can download the mixtape at LSDXOXO.com, please donate to download if you can and preview below
frankie so new mixtape, I mean, how long has it been since you released anything? People are thirsty babes.
lsdxoxo Well, it’s been almost three years now, and January will be three years since I released any official music.
frankie It’s crazy. How does that feel?
lsdxoxo It feels really foreign for me to be releasing something now. I spent three years taking time off to hone in on my craft and learn new equipment, learn new ways of making music and also learning how to master and mix my own music, which was something that I wasn’t really versed in before. This specific project is more of like a precursor to all of my other things I’ve been working on. They’re all coming out at the same time and it’s really exciting for me.
frankie Speak more about the particular things you’ve been honing in on, like what you’ve been learning? Because I don’t know anything about this.
lsdxoxo So for me, I’ve never been a hardware person at all. I’ve been making more dance music and there’s a real fascination with everyone that works as a producer, like the hardware side of things. And for me, I never associated my music with that hardware sound, I’ve always just been like, a very URL type person. I came up online, once I moved to Berlin, I started to see what other producers were doing with hardware and realized that it was a complete side of sonics that I hadn’t even tapped into. I wanted to incorporate that into my sound, so in order to do that, I had to learn how to.
frankie What was the first thing you touched?
lsdxoxo So my friend Joey LaBaejia had this Teenage Engineering machine called the OP-1. You can plug it into the radio and sample directly from the radio. It’s incorporating both my styles, it resonated with the way that I was already producing.
frankie So seeing that one machine, was it just like I have a thirst to see all these other machines?
lsdxoxo Yeah, definitely. It’s like getting a tattoo. It’s like once you have one, you’re just like: “Well, i started…”
frankie When was your first tattoo?
lsdxoxo When I was 17. I lied to the shop and said I was 18.
frankie How many do you have now?
lsdxoxo I can’t even count.
frankie How many drum machines do you have now?
lsdxoxo I’ve got four, she’s modest. I would have a lot more if deejaying was still a profession.
frankie Yeah. I remember those days when we could be DJs.
lsdxoxo Ye, good ol’ days.
frankie I can’t wait to tell my grandkids about it. So what else? I know there’s been more than drum machines.
lsdxoxo Yeah. There’s been a lot more I’ve been working on. I’m a fiend for music in any way. I just feel like as a musician, especially as a musician who works in a lot of melody, it’s really important to have a real grasp on melody and I definitely have a natural ear for melody from being able to just kind of like tap it out as I go. But I really want to be able to be more productive with building music and so starting to learn the piano, I’m able to hash out the ideas I have easier.
frankie So the mixtape, tell us about how this idea popped into your head? You just disappeared for a few weeks.
lsdxoxo I was in London wrapping things up for my upcoming EP and I had been really wanting to put together something that worked as a prelude to the music that I’m releasing in 2021. This is my soft introduction to myself as a vocalist, as a different type of producer.
frankie Have you used your vocals on tracks before?
lsdxoxo I used my vocals on one release before, which is me just saying one or two words just repeated over and over again. It’s like something on Nervous Records.
frankie So is it weird to adjust to working with your own voice as an instrument?
lsdxoxo It’s completely different because you have to get around the idea of listening to your own voice, really in your ears. Nobody wants to hear themselves on a phone call. No one wants to listen to their own voice for hours on end.
frankie Yeah it’s like “I’m fucking annoying. I’m sick of it.”
lsdxoxo You really have to be ok with listening to your own voice. I feel like I’m not putting on a character, but it’s just a different side of myself. It just feels like a different, you know, part of my personality that I tap into when I make music. And so when I’m recording vocals, when I’m producing it, I just become that part of me.
frankie It’s kind of like an alter ego?
lsdxoxo I mean it’s not giving Sasha Fierce. It’s not that much of an alter ego. I think LSDXOXO as a personality has too much to be present all the time.
frankie What’s this personality with this mixtape?
lsdxoxo This is just LSD without the XOXO. I like to really disrespect genre. The idea of genre for me feels very boxy. I dont need all the labels, i’m already a black gay, so genre for me, I feel like I like to just make genre my bitch.
frankie You’re dog-walking genre.
frankie How do you piece together a mixtape?
lsdxoxo It started with a spliff. I just had the idea in my head that I was gonna start this mixtape and the idea was gonna be me, just like starting a weekend in Berlin and ending it. Starting at the tip top of the weekend, freshly showered, “i’m a good girl, I’m feeling pure at the moment.” And then it’s just me, going through various stages of messiness. And then at the end, the final track is the comedown. That’s me, praising whoever I’m praising for the fact that i’m still here living
frankie I miss that routine. It’s so nostalgic.
lsdxoxo Yeah. It was kind of like me bedroom-simulating with that routine and throwing my Corona anguish into a project.
frankie let’s talk about this anguish. How has this time impacted you?
lsdxoxo. I can’t complain because I’m still here. It feels completely crazy to go from working too much to not. I can’t say that I took my job for granted before because I was very grateful for it. Last year was my first year of being able to work and live comfortably and so right now I feel like I’m just kind of like back to the basics, back to where I was before. As long as I have a roof over my head and I can make music, I’m fine. But the way it’s impacting me in terms of artistry, honestly, I can say that mainly it’s been positive because my schedule this year was just meant to be so jam packed that I was just worried I wouldn’t have any time to work on music this year. This year was meant to be me transitioning into an actual vocalist performer and not just a producer.
frankie Do you want to do this live?
lsdxoxo Oh yeah, I’ve been working with choreography and what my stage presence will be. Because I don’t want to just do it to make money. I want to bring the experience.
frankie So if touring returns would you want to come back just doing live performing or like kind of a mixture of both?
lsdxoxo Well it would be a mixture, definitely. Because like my live performance is planned to be a pretty grand experience, I just live for excess, I love excess in every area. I’m still going to be deejaying. Last year was my first year as a working and touring DJ and I came across so many people who blew me out of the water. And I’m like, I want to be a really fucking good DJ. Like, I think I’m a really great selector, the way I put together tracks was interesting before, but I think I’ve really come into my own as a DJ. I’ve just purchased decks for the first time ever and I was able to do this because of living in Berlin and because of the resources that we have here as artists. I don’t know if I would have ever been able to have what I have here in New York. I’m forever thankful for being in New York because like I learned my work ethic from New York. If I came up in Berlin, I would be a lazy bitch.
frankie You’re able to kind of like hibernate.
Lsdxoxo Yeah. I feel like I did the right thing beginning my career as an artist in New York. I’m really grateful for, not only the connections, but just like being part of such a culturally rich scene. There’s so much talent that comes from New York. I listed some of my favorite producers right now the other day and they were literally all from New York.
frankie Name names
lsdxoxo Right now I’m listening to Xiorro, Akua, Shyboi, Tygapaw, my best friend Cakes da Killa
frankie I mean it’s crazy how much Black artists in New York are putting out into the world.
lsdxoxo It’s just like a real resurgence in Black dance music. It feels like because of the social climate right now, we actually have to take ownership of what’s ours. White artists just really stepped into dance music and took over. Of course there are some great white artists and I’m thankful for what they contribute. But you have to understand, you’re a guest and we (as black people) have to understand we’re not necessarily the creators of everything, even though we kind of are, but we know when the space is not ours. White producers and musicians don’t really have that, they don’t know when to grasp that. They’re existing in a space that they did not create. I feel like now because we’ve been able to speak up and share our experiences, it’s becoming really exciting. Like all the Black artists I know are just being a lot more explorative with their music. And also there’s just no holdback. It’s just like we know that Black people are the creators, we know our shit is good and know we don’t have those fucking glass ceilings we had before, like we have a lot more space to work in.
frankie I mean, it’s really wild thinking now about the amount of glass ceilings black artists face.
lsdxoxo Everyone in music is just like a gatekeeper. It’s like the cool thing to be, is a gatekeeper. Why has it become so cool for music to be like this elitist thing? It’s because everyone who’s running it is a white person. Pretty much every genre of dance music was created as a political movement, as a way to get you to step away from colonialism and capitalism and now those have become like the deciding factors, like what’s hot in dance music. Where are the opportunities at?
frankie Like, it’s really a degrading process. Enough is e-fucking-nough and it’s particularly bad in Europe, though, you know.
lsdxoxo Oh absolutely.
frankie Because that’s the circuit, that’s the main touring circuit.
lsdxoxo It’s the main touring circuit, yeah. Since I’ve moved here, like of course, I realize the glass ceilings and stuff that happens in the States but I’ve grown to appreciate the States so much. Because like there’s just a natural sense to be more vocal and talk about things there as opposed to just trying to skirt around everything. Yeah, they don’t like to have conflict and so can’t resolve anything.
frankie It’s quite hostile actually.
lsdxoxo I’ve had blow-outs with people here. I’ve gotten into it with so many of the people that I worked with in the past in Berlin because you have to teach them how to work with the Black artists, how to work with an artist that has not come from their same background. You have to respect the art that comes along with everything. It’s not just about bureaucracy and business. I respect both sides of music as well, but if you just focus on that stuff, it’s just like: “Where’s the meat? Where’s the fucking meat?” I don’t even eat meat, but I want it in the music.
Living in Berlin has been a definite hassle for me, but the time I chose to move here was a good time because like I actually feel like I had some sort of a say in things and I had some power just because people know who I am from my last release. I’m able to utilize that so I can get my foot in the door, so I’m trying to get my whole body in the door so I can hold it open for other Black artists.
frankie These clubs need to keep their doors open.
lsdxoxo The clubs in Berlin: they love a queue and they love a closed door. I’m not shitting on Berlin, I have had a lot of opportunity here because the government actually does respect artists and respects what we contribute to society. In America the artists are looked down on like we don’t provide anything.
frankie But it’s also like what do people think they listen to and watch? People are consuming art constantly but they don’t think about how it’s paid for.
lsdxoxo Constantly. You see billboards that are build by an artist, you buy a box of cereal the cover is made by an artist, like everything is made by an artist
frankie I mean that’s what’s going on in England.
lsdxoxo I thought the English government had a respect for at least dance music. My first journey into dance music was from the UK so I thought because the musical history was so rich, the government would have respect for it. But they don’t at all.
frankie No, they don’t. They want it to just disappear.
lsdxoxo I mean, just since I’ve been going to the UK more often, I see how similar it is to America
frankie I mean, like you look at the leaders, they look like the same person.
lsdxoxo Same girl, same toupee
frankie People who’ve made the most money from techno music are white obviously.
lsdxoxo They’re just fine. Just playing corona raves, living their lives.
frankie I mean it’s really weird. And it’s like, we really have just been treated like fucking shit all this time, like it’s a crime honestly.
lsdxoxo It helps you to realize this. Not only have we been treated like shit, we’ve been given the shit end of the stick constantly. And really in a space, in a genre that we created. But also how unbothered they are by everything, it takes the piss. We’ve gone through so many struggles this year as people. And I just watched the people I’ve associated myself with in this past year and a lot of them are so oblivious to the issues outside of their own bubble.
frankie But wait, let me ask you here. But did they post a black square, though?
lsdxoxo Most of them did. I think they’ve done plenty.
frankie I think you should give them a break.
lsdxoxo I’m not going to surround myself with people who choose not to engage with the issues that everyone else is going through.
frankie I can’t look at those people the same way.
lsdxoxo Absolutely no way.
frankie That’s why it’s even worse to just be functioning as if nothing’s happening in this time because there’s literally no excuse to not know what’s going on.
So, you know, thinking about clubs coming out of this, what is this going to look like? I do think there’s going to be some kind of shifts.
lsdxoxo Yes, there’ll be some positives. I’m not going to say there’s going to be some earth shattering shifts. Because I just feel like with as many conversations as we have, there’s still an infrastructure that needs to be broken down.
frankie So you don’t think like Berghain’s going to come back swinging with an all-black line-up?
lsdxoxo I mean, if we’re saying names. I feel like white-owned clubs that have established themselves as institutions just have this power that really can’t be infiltrated. And so, even after all these conversations have been had, they’re only gonna be held to so much accountability and therefore, if they’re not actually being held accountable, they’re not going to change. If they can continue to have these all white lineups and still make hundreds of thousands of bucks they’re gonna do that. Why would they want to fuck with the formula? I’m sorry, but I just don’t think they care enough. Like, you don’t care enough. That’s just it. You need to have Black people working in all these places because you need somebody who is going to care.
frankie I think it’s quite hard to reform these places. .
lsdxoxo Like it’s like a non-related family. It’s nepotism. They really want to keep things in the inner circle. They don’t like to branch outside. Techno Nepotism, that’s the new party.
frankie I can’t rave with the same people again, it’s just different now.
lsdxoxo I feel like through these times, our whole rave friends circle, the whole network has changed completely.
frankie There’s a division.
lsdxoxo Like for me it’s more healthy, I’m fine. I don’t feel this weird air of having to skirt around friends because I don’t want to feel like I’m trope-ing and feel like the angry Black person. It’s like I shouldn’t have to worry about complaining about shit that’s actually wrong.
frankie I mean, when you put it that simply it’s like so true.
lsdxoxo Like if you’re my friend, you should feel the same way or we can’t be friends
lsdxoxo If I see you out, I’ll give you a “Hey sis”, you can definitely buy me a drink and I’m gonna go with it into the crowd.
frankie I’m still accepting things that I’m not giving anything back. I’m not going to talk to you. You can buy me and my black friends a round of shots and then you can just leave.
lsdxoxo You can engage in the experience that’s me and be grateful for that and then ciao.
frankie Ciao. Bye. Thank you. I think that this specific part has been great, people are not shutting up about this.
lsdxoxo And we should not. Because as long as we keep our mouths and our gums yapping, things will not be allowed to go back to the way they were before. As long as you remain as rambunctious as possible. Because we see that they didn’t want to keep up with things, the black square was posted and they went on about their lives. They stopped donating their white guilt coin and they went on about their lives.
frankie I love that time period after everyone posted a black square to when they post their next non-race post
lsdxoxo So, you know, when can I post that picture of me in Greece? Because I look really good.
frankie Is it safe yet? Is Instagram safe? Am I going to get shouted at by some black person? Really amusing period of time.
lsdxoxo I love it, to see white people as socially nervous as we always are, as we always have to be. To see them actually experience that, I wanted to [sings] make it last forever.
frankie Okay, banger. Love that song.
lsdxoxo I needed it to last forever. It was like crack.
frankie It was so great. I felt like there was a revolution or something like that.
lsdxoxo I think it really was. It was the start of a revolution. It really felt that way. It’s a slow burning revolution.
frankie I was talking with friends today: It’s like I definitely do think there has been a real shift, like really even my whole mind’s changed, you know.
lsdxoxo I’d say the same thing, yeah
frankie Like I’m absolutely not dealing with bullshit. I’m not begging for any scraps.
lsdxoxo At this point, I want for people to try me.
frankie Literally, we’re ready.
lsdxoxo I want for someone to disrespect me so I can spew all the shit that I’ve been sitting on. Like, all I’m asking for is respect. That’s the thing. I’m not saying I want you to, kiss my ass.
frankie I guess aside from trying to change clubs into more black inclusive spaces, what else is coming up for you?
lsdxoxo So yeah, as I said earlier, this mixtape I’m releasing as a prelude to the things that are coming up. I wanted to use it more as a soft introduction of myself as a vocalist.
And so now this project is meant to be the prelude to an EP that I have coming out at the beginning of 2021, which will be my first physical release. I’ll have tangible copies of music that I’m really excited to have. I’ve signed with a label, as opposed to just doing Bandcamp and SoundCloud like I’m so used to.
frankie How does that feel?
lsdxoxo I mean, i had jitters you know, just about like making the decision at first. But luckily I have people working at this label that really, you know, seem to have my best interest at heart and so they made me feel very comfortable with the decision. I’m really excited to step into this new part of myself. The thing is, I also wanted to do like a project that was sample heavy before I released my newer stuff. Because like that’s the area I come from. And that’s how I started out as an artist at the beginning. I wanted to go back to that, marry my old self to my new self. And it’s been a really interesting process to do that because I felt like I was able to be the old carefree me, like just having fun and experimenting but with a world of new knowledge. It was just so crazy how the music just spilled out of me like nothing.
frankie It’s really exciting. And thank you for speaking with us/me. I love you very much and am just really juiced for this mixtape and future EP.
lsdxoxo I love you too and I’m just ready to start this techno revolution, honey.
frankie Black DJs and producers to the front.