Cornwall’s 18 year old Alfie Coleman aka XYConstant has quickly established himself as one of the most rated newcomers in electronic music.
Bursting onto the scene at the back end of 2013 with his incredible remix of Disclosure‘s ‘White Noise’ (MNEK REFIX) , XYConstant quickly gained instant online love from some of the major Hype Machine blogs and the popular Youtube Channel; ‘The Sound You Need’.
With over 2 million Soundcloud and YouTube combined plays , XY entered 2015 with great expectation. After releasing a free download (‘Her Eyes’) and another great remix for one of Island Record‘s hot new prospects (Lola) online figures continued to rapidly grow, eventually breaking out with his own original production ‘Silverlined’, which led to him being signed to Pete Tong’s mighty FFRR label.
It’s a story which shows that it can be possible to stand out from the over-saturated online marketplace. We spoke to XYconstant recently and began with his plans to move to London…
“I did a bit of music production at college and learned about the industry, four months later I was getting signed by the label I was assigned, I was like, ‘What!!’.”
Have you got a rough idea of when you might move to London?
It depends how everything pans out but we’re thinking September or October. End of the summer probably.
Won’t it be a bit of tug because Cornwall is such a beautiful part of the country?
I guess so but I’ve been here all my life and I’m 20 now so I’ve ‘been there, done that’ and I can always come back, all my family are still here. I’m quite looking forward to the buzz of London because you don’t get that down here.
For a young person, what is there to do, musically-speaking, down there in Cornwall? And how did you get into electronic music in the first place?
There’s never been much of a scene, well, there is but it’s quite small. There are collectives of people representing different genres, like drum’n’bass but nothing that large. So people are surprised to hear that I got into it, being from Cornwall! My older brother played me a lot of electronic music when I was younger and I got into and starting making it on Fruity Loops. Obviously the internet helps massively, 20 years ago I would have had a bit of a problem getting out of Cornwall but now you can just put something up online and leave it… what happened with me was I uploaded a bootleg of White Noise by Disclosure. I’d already put stuff up but this one got a lot of blog attention, which was a stroke of luck for me really. Especially as it happened straight away, I went from only having contacts mainly down here to breaking out of Cornwall.
Great, and we hear that there was quite a funny story about your track blowing up online when you were away at a festival?
Yeah, that was with ‘Siverlined’ my new single. I uploaded it at the airport when I was on the way to Croatia for Outlook and I got on the plane, landed in Croatia and my phone ran out of battery within a day. I thought, ‘Let it do it’s thing, that’s always worked for me in the past’. On the way back I found I had missed calls and messages from my manager saying to call him asap as it had gone to No.1 on Hype Machine and we had a lot of labels interested, which was mad! It had been a steady, nice reaction with my stuff up til then and that was my first original track with a vocalist. It alleviated those post-holiday blues straight away [laughs].
Would you say that there’s anything particularly ‘Cornwall’ about your sound? I guess even just being from there will have a subtle influence somehow…
It’s interesting because I’d say not at all, but as you say, it probably has because my parents have always played folk music down here, they’re in a band together. So, since I was young, I’ve always gone to their gigs – it’s Cornish folk, which is lesser known than Irish folk and has a slightly different sound. It must have influenced my musicality because I was listening to it before I was even playing instruments. You can never tell but I’m sure that I have some influences creeping into my music. There’s nothing I can pick out and say, ‘Yeah, that’s come from there’.
That’s it, it’s one of those things that’s quite abstract but maybe somewhere in your melodies or rhythms it’s affected your output. How did it feel when you got signed?
It’s very exciting. I did a bit of music production at college and learned about the industry, four months later I was getting signed by the label I was assigned, I was like, ‘What!!’. It was quite a strange transition and it happened so fast. It’s a super exciting time, I’m still learning things and I don’t know what’s to come. That’s what I love about this music is there’s not really any set of doing things. I mean, you might think you can make tweaks to a song to make it do better, but at the end of the day it’s a loose cannon, which I really like.
For sure, you can never truly predict how people are going to react to things – you can definitely feel when you’re on to something good, there’s a lot to be said for intuition, but you can’t write a book on ‘How to make a hit’.
If you could, it would have been written wouldn’t it?!
What’s next after ‘Silverlined’?
As I said, music changes so we’ve got the next singles in the pipeline with some cool singers and songwriters and getting material together so it’s ready to roll. I think once one of those singles it out there then we can see which direction it’s going to go. One thing that isn’t going to change is that I’m always going to want to make stuff that I like. Since being signed I’ve had a lot more free-reign to work with vocalists and work in studios with different producers. Before that, it was a lot more of being on my laptop on my own with headphones on! So I’m exploring stuff with other musicians, which is great and I think we’ll look at getting an album together at some point.
With festival season kicking off, are you planning to hit any this summer?
As a punter, there’s a festival called Boardmasters down here which I’m going to go to. I’m not really a fan of traveling too far to get to a festival, I know that sounds really boring but I got put off when I went to Outlook because it took us 24-hours to get there. We did it the cheap way, which I won’t do again – I ended sleeping on an airport floor for 12 hours! Next time I’ll splash out!