Artist Spotlight: MkX debuts ‘Fall’, talks honest musical expression and loving the Black Eyed Peas
Finding a diamond in the chaos of today’s pop music scene can be like searching for a needle in the largest haystack imaginable. Fortunately, superstars in the making are out there- and today we bring you MkX. This Boston singer-songwriter is putting his own stamp on the world of pop; most recently with a killer track called “Fall”. We spoke with him via email about new songs, the Black Eyed Peas and making music to express his truest self.
Can you tell us your origin story? How did you get started in music and what brought you to “Fall”?
Hi! I’m MkX, a producer/singer/songwriter from Boston, MA. I’ve been making music since before I could walk. I used to write and record songs on my Fisher-Price tape recorder, of course those songs were trash but they were my first steps into songwriting. When I was in 3rd grade, my school got computers with Garageband, and that was definitely the gateway to music production. I took an online course in Logic Pro with Berklee College of Music when I was a freshman in High School, and ever since then that’s all I wanted to do: make pop records. I’ve been performing around the US since I was 8 years old. I started with open mics and performing on the backs of trucks, but after many years of hard work and dedication I got to open for Top 40 acts like Ariana Grande, Christina Perri, and Rixton. I worked on writing/producing a ton of songs while I was in high school, but I didn’t end up putting any of them out. After honing my writing/production skills and finding my sound, I finally released my first single as “MkX” in 2017. It got a really great reaction, which was the most exciting feeling since my main goal as an artist is to inspire people with my music.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re creating music? Where did the inspiration for “Fall” and the song’s music video come from?
My main goal as a songwriter is to write songs that people can connect with on a personal level. I love to incorporate very descriptive imagery while keeping the details somewhat vague so the listener can apply the songs to their own scenarios. I wrote “Fall” about the three stages of falling for someone. The first stage is apprehension and denial, putting your guard up so you don’t get hurt. The second stage is admitting to yourself that you’re starting to fall for this person. The third stage is switching roles, making that person fall for YOU. It’s the first song I ever wrote with different lyrics in each chorus (which was a PAIN to vocal comp the doubles and harmonies but it was worth it!). For the video, I wanted to bring the imagery in my head to life from when I was writing the song. I pictured myself hanging from a building by my fingers, barely able to hold on. So I put up my green screen (and blue screen), whipped together a bunch of outfits, put my camera on my tripod, and made it become a reality!! I edited the video myself which was time consuming but a LOT of fun. I’m super proud of how it turned out and I can’t wait for my listeners to experience what was going on in my head when I wrote this record.
You’ve written for, produced, and otherwise collaborated with some incredible names! How does that compare with going into the studio and creating music for your own project? How is the energy or the feeling different?
It took me a while to be comfortable writing songs for myself. I would always be too self-conscious of what people thought of my lyrics. So when I was in high school (wearing a solid shirt and khakis with low self-confidence), I decided to write songs for an imaginary artist. I created this badass person in my head, envisioning what they would wear, what their music would sound like, and what they would represent. It really liberated me and took away that self-consciousness when writing. After a lot of determination and stepping out of my comfort zone, I eventually became MkX, the artist that I envisioned in my head.
As for collaborating, it’s a lot of fun! It’s a really different vibe than when I write by myself. Both styles of writing are really cool in their own unique ways. When I write by myself, I usually take my time perfecting each line or melody until it’s exactly the way I want it. This can take me hours, days, or even weeks. When I’m collaborating, it’s usually a rapid fire of everyone’s ideas and we build off of each other. It’s usually faster process but a little more chaotic.
How would you say that your music has evolved from when you got started to where you are now?
It took me a while to find my sound. When I was younger, different music execs frowned upon the idea of a male making electro-pop music. I dabbled with rock, adult-contemporary, and so much more. Eventually, I stopped caring about what kind of music people wanted me to make. I just started making the kind of music that I wanted to make, and that’s when people actually started to pay attention. It just goes to show that being your true self really resonates with people.
What are you hoping that listeners will take away from your music?
My two main goals as an artist are to create music that people can apply to what’s going on in their own lives and inspire people to be their unique selves to the fullest. A lot of people have tried to “normalize” me and put me in a box. Eventually I realized that I was happiest and made my best music when I didn’t care what other people wanted me to sound like or look like. I want to inspire people to stand out from the crowd. I want them to take the thing that makes them different and use it as their superpower.
Every artist has a different relationship with music, stemming from how they got started, how it’s impacted their life, etc. How would you describe your own relationship with music?
Music has been such a huge part of my life, it shaped me into the person I am today. That’s why my main goal is to make music to inspire people, because that’s what it did for me. There are so many songs that were and still are the soundtrack to my life. It would be such an honor to create the songs that are the soundtrack to other people’s lives.
You just did a banging cover of “Don’t Phunk with My Heart” and I absolutely have to know… how’d you decide to cover that particular Black Eyed Peas song? Why now?
Thank you so much! I was such a huge Black Eyed Peas fan growing up. I remember begging my mom to take me to Walmart before school so I could be the first person to buy their Monkey Business album the day it came out. A couple of weeks ago I had my entire Spotify library on shuffle, and that song came on. I was in the shower and was like “OMG I forgot how hard this song went.” That night I started making the beat for my version and finished it in a few days. It was a lot of fun reimagining such a dope song through my own artistic lens. The day after I posted it, the Black Eyed Peas liked the cover on Instagram and I FREAKED OUT! It was such a surreal feeling to get their seal of approval.
What else is coming up for you? I know that COVID has things rather up in the air, but what are you hoping and planning for?
I wrote and recorded a bunch of songs during the quarantine and I can’t wait to share them with the world! Although it’s a really crazy time and I can’t wait for this mess to be over, quarantining definitely gave me a lot time to be creative.
Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about you or your music, or is there anything you wish you could talk about more that you may not get asked?
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my music on Spotify and follow me on Instagram! Instagram is the social platform I use the most to give updates on life/music and connect with my followers. My username is @MkXMusic. Thanks so much for having me!
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo Credit: Anthony Grasetti