Melbourne born rapper, Xeus is based in the United States and has been playing college basketball on a scholarship for the past two years. However, because his love of music was so strong, he chose to put aside his education in New York to pursue his true passion of music.
When did you begin rapping, and what inspired you to continue making music?
I began when I was 9 years old. It felt like something comfortable and it felt natural, I realised at that point I wanted to be an artist, I saw a career path and something I wanted to be
Who would you cite as your biggest influences?
My biggest influence would be Kanye West, the reason I think I connect with him is because he doesn’t fit the mould of what’s expected. With my cultural background, I’ve never had a place where I fit into so I relate to that. His music focuses on expression more so than what’s expected.
What albums are you listening to right now?
I have a range of music that I listen to at the moment – songs by this new cat Roy Woods, a little bit of Dr. Dre and I’m waiting on the official release of the Weeknd’s album
You have a very eclectic sound; how would you describe your music to those who haven’t heard you yet?
I would definitely say it is open… it’s an open sound but fits in the hip hop category, growing up in Australia I’ve found I connect to sounds with a strong electronic base, I love all types of music from rock, soul, jazz to rnb so I try not to typecast myself too much.
Do you have a process to writing your raps?
Generally I hear a song, sing along and then once I feel a good flow, I pen down ideas to that flow to create a blend and then I start putting words it. Flow is pivotal.
You seem to have a mantra; “Life has it’s ups and downs, It’s all part of the Bittersweet Balance.” What does “bittersweet balance” mean to you?
I’d like to consider myself to be a thinker, so I break things down, in every aspect of life it’s my way of thinking; ‘bittersweet balance’ is my interpretation of the world and how it works. I’m a realist. Everything has its pros and cons and if you can see what things for what they really are you’ll have a better time in life and not waste time on things that don’t matter.
You have lived all around the world. What place has been the biggest influence on you?
That’s a really hard question to answer, every place that I’ve lived has influenced me in a different way. In retrospect everyplace has influenced me in a major way, but living in Kinshasa in Congo opened my eyes to a world outside the digital realm we live in and it really made a lot of the things we do seem trivial, it brings you back to your core as a human.
You played college basketball in the United States, what was this experience like and how did you get into the sport?
I had an amazing time while I was there. It was everything I dreamed about it to be, the college parties, the college, red cups, the cheerleaders playing on TV. I love the fact I had time to do everything.
Did you ever feel like pursuing basketball over music, or have you always known music was your true passion?
I’ve always wanted to do both, one thing I believe is you should never have to choose or limit your skills set, if you are great at singing there’s no reason that you won’t be good at ice-skating. I never picked one over the other. I’ve never stopped loving basketball. Hopefully when I’m on tour I can hit the courts and play people around nearby.
What NBA team to you root for?
I’m a Knicks fan, but I follow Le Bron wherever he goes… I’m that guy.
How would you say American rap in all it’s incarnations, compares to Australian rap and hip-hop?
Rap originated in America so I feel like we’re comparing Australian music to its American origins. American hip-hop’s sound is focused on what area you are from and its more radio-friendly because it’s accepted in the culture. There is a wider range of the sounds coming from the US and on average it’s slightly more refined at the moment because of how long it’s been around plus there’s more of it.
Aussie rap has its own special sound. It has a live sound kind of similar to the 90s New York boom bap type stuff with accompanying bands, the live element is very present. It’s unique with the Aussie accent, it’s this cool thing that’s like hey ‘I’ve committed, this is me, I’m staying true to my own sound’
What was it like working with Trinidad James?
That dude is so fucking cool, he just walked in and we just kicked it off. We had a mad connection before we even got into the studio because we had a massive night out beforehand at a club night that I run. We were so hyped up and I was jumping off the walls on stage. He was giving me shoutouts before he knew who I was, we were only supposed to do a verse, but we ended up doing 2 songs. He’s TOO cool.
Are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Kanye West, Childish Gambino, The Weekend, Jay Z, Drake, Kendrick, Frank Ocean, ASAP Rocky
You just dropped the first single, ‘Thoughts’ off your upcoming release Sail. What was it like making Sail?
Sail, is an ongoing project, at first I planned on having a 6 track EP which grew to 12 tracks, I want to put each track out so they get their time.
What can fans expect from the project?
They’re going to hear some real shit, I’ve scrapped that many songs in order to attain a sound that is real to me and I’m learning by the minute about what works and what doesn’t work. Expect something special.