Melodic Magazine got the opportunity to interview the Hong Kong-based Songstress, XTIE. In celebration of her three-year music journey of writing, producing, and performing, the self-produced XTIE discusses her debut EP “Apollo-23.“
MM: Congrats on releasing your debut EP “APOLLO-23.” You’ve been working on this project for quite some time, how does it feel to finally have it out for the world to hear?
It feels surreal. I have been dreaming of releasing my own album when I was little. I can’t believe I really worked so hard and here I am!
MM: Is there a story behind the title of the EP, “APOLLO-23?” How did you come up with it?
The name “Apollo” references the Apollo space missions, which were a series of groundbreaking human spaceflight missions that captivated the world and also it refers to the God of Sun & Light, where I want my listeners to feel good when they listen to my songs. I wanted to create a title that evoked a sense of exploration, curiosity, to dive deep in our own little universe to stay true to who we are.
MM: As an independent artist who not only writes but also produces, were there any difficulties you faced when creating your debut EP? How did you decide on the final track list?
I did have some insecurities along the way while creating, but I am grateful I gave myself enough time to digest the music I created and the audience response along the way. So the process is very smooth. I selected the tracks according to the soundscape. And I like to call my music “cosmic pop” and this album is the best interpretation of it.
MM: Do you still personally connect with the tracks the way you did when you wrote them? How has your relationship to them changed over the years?
It does change! For example, one of the songs on the album – Skin – is the most personal song which talks about my journey of having eczema. The story behind the song comes from my own experiences and battles with body image and self-confidence. I wanted to write something that could resonate with others who may have faced similar struggles. It took a lot of courage to be vulnerable and share such personal stories. I wasn’t confident with my skin back then, but now I found confidence in music. After releasing the song, I feel like it now reminds me to feel beautiful and reassure myself of “I can do this!”
MM: How would you describe your songwriting process? Do you feel it comes out naturally? Do you ever hit any mental blocks, if so, what do you do to help you with the songwriting process?
It’s an all-in-one process. Sometimes I start with the lyrics, sometimes it is the melody or the chords. Most of the time, I started creating the track first (cos I’m a music producer) It really depends on what sort of inspiration I have on a particular day or in a particular place.
MM: If you had to select one song from “APOLLO-23,” which one do you think represents you best as an artist?
‘Spaceship!’ I love to describe my music as “cosmic pop” – which is a concept that I bring both musically and visually to my listeners’ world. I think ‘Spaceship’ is a good “get-to-know-me” song as it sets the closest concept of my “cosmic pop” world sonically and visually. It’s hard for me to pick one song, I also want to pick ‘Skin’ as mentioned it’s such an important song of mine as a person (not just as an artist) – but I think this would be the 2nd song I’d introduce to my new listeners, like after the “get-to-know-me” song as an intro, ‘Skin’ is more like the “deeper conversation” with a close friend.
MM: Despite the EP being almost entirely sung in English, track six, “麥田看守 員” (Field of Gold), is sung in Cantonese as an ode to your hometown Hong Kong, is there anything you’re thankful for the city for?
I always want to release a song that’s in my mother tongue – Cantonese. This song needs to be sung in Canto because it’s a song that I want to thank those who have been supporting me throughout the journey, my family, my friends, and my fans. I feel that in these 3 years, I grew a lot as an artist and I realize we need to protect and cherish our ‘Field of Gold’ that we already have, because sometimes social media draws our attention to things we don’t have yet. It’s easy for us to forget what we’ve got already. It’s important to celebrate and be grateful for the little joy in our daily life. Singing the song in Canto is also a way for me to honor the culture, language, and people that have shaped me as an artist and an individual. And I hope I can introduce my culture to a wider audience and promote diversity and inclusivity in the music industry.
MM: What artist(s) inspires your music and sound the most?
I have been (especially recently) loving Rina Sawayama. I love how she has created space for Asian artists. Watching her artistry always inspires me a lot. Maybe I’m optimistic, but sometimes seeing her on stage makes me feel hopeful like “one day I can share my stories through my songs”
MM: If you could have an artist feature on a song, living or not, who would it be and why?
Lauv! I love the sound and the storytelling of his songs.
MM: What’s one thing you want your listeners to take away with them when they listen to your music?
We all deserve to feel beautiful no matter how we look. We can be flawsome!
MM: What are some of your goals for the next year or two?
Hopefully I can go on tour and release another LP!