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article imageAn interview with local hip-hop artist Xavier Marquis Special

By Anthony Carranza     Nov 23, 2011 in Arts
Minneapolis - Xavier Marquis, a Minnesota native, is a rising musician who always brings differentiating elements.
Since the age of 9, music has left an indelible footprint on his life. The music that he creates combines creativity and a passion for innovation.
I interviewed him recently about his love of hip-hop.
1. Can you give me some background on the first rap group you formed called “The Little XDL” with your cousin Dom Davis Aka?
We must have been about eight or nine years old in the third or fourth grade. My brother and my sister always rap when I was growing up. So you know I wanted to follow their footsteps and be like them.
My cousin and I were messing around with the keyboard, I don’t remember where the keyboard came from but I figured out how to make beats on it. So I made a little beat and we formed a group called “The Little XDL” and we only had a few songs. We never recorded anything, but then I was sure then what I was meant to be doing music.
2. How important was it to be introduced to Ray Seville of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ company Flyte Tyme on the topic of music production?
I never got to work directly with them. I worked at the studio with another producer. I needed that experience and I needed to go there to see the actual studio. At that time, I was only recording on a cheap little Casio keyboard. So that experience was something definitely necessary for the development of my career and I studied their music pretty much every song that they produced.
I listened to the songs, and I noticed how the changes of the music and with time the music got better and better. So I just wanted to make sure I followed that same path, continue to create amazing music and be innovative while pushing always for a better sound.
I got to use a lot of their equipment that they had, which I could not get my hands on at home. That taught me a whole lot about music production and be able to work with a producer in the process.
That time there at the studio is the reason why I am here. I learned so much that it put me in a position where I got to meet people that could help me or who could connect me with people on the music side to produce not just for myself but for other people.
You can produce for yourself so much, but you just meet your own expectations. With other people you get to meet their expectations and it’s good to have to do that, which makes you step up your game a whole lot more.
3. The production company called “Findin Muziq” was conceived for the desire to find and create a new sound. What are some of the factors that led you to start in that direction?
I started it back I think in 2007. There was a little while where I was not doing a whole lot, just making beats in my basement. I needed to sell those beats and so I needed a company to sell them through in order to push my name and my brand.
So I wanted to come up with something and not just some regular simple name. I needed a name that had meaning, so it’s Findin Muziq because people go through life trying to find great music to listen to. I feel like my production company can be that source of great music that you can use to find what you are looking for.
4. Can you explain who specifically has been influential in your life? How did you become passionate about music along with this idea of seeking differentiation or separation from the rest of the pack?
There was my mother of course. She was a singer, so probably from one of my first memories is being there at the studio recording with her. She would do shows all over the place; she was focused on her music career. Making it big and I wanted to follow her footsteps. There was my uncle Reggie, who is a producer who really got me into it more than anyone else because I looked up to him a whole lot.
He asked me one day when I was fifteen-years-old to record a song with him, basically a compilation CD he was putting together. That was my first time in the studio and after that it is all I have been doing ever since.
5. What kind of identity or image do you want followers of your music to think of when they see you perform?
My plan is to start local, build a buzz as much as possible. My main goal is to be an international household name. That has been my primary focus since I was a kid. You know every time I watch the MTV Music Awards, the BET Awards and the Grammy’s I just picture myself there. I know one of these years I am going to be there.
I am working hard at pushing my brand, pushing my name so that people hear my music and talk about it. It’s really paying off this year. I have done so much since I moved back from Dallas. I feel like I am on the right track.
6. In your music, do you use any curse words or graphic language?
You know, in my household we didn't swear because we grew up Jehovah’s Witness. So swearing wasn't even thought of. I feel like there are so many words to say that you can use other than curse words to get your point across.
There are times and certain songs that I do use some cursing, but that happens when I am in that emotional state to justify its use in that scenario. I only do it when it’s necessary not to just throw it out there for people.
7. Why do you think other artists use curse words? Do you think it always works?
Well that approach is just for me. For other people you know whatever works for them is just fine.
It’s not my place to judge and I listen to everything. It has to fit you as a person and I am not trying to be anybody or someone that I am not. I am not putting out there some character for entertainment purposes. I am just being myself.
8. Was there ever a time that you might have been discouraged or you did not want to be involved in music because you came across a hurdle? Is it always smooth sailing?
No, it’s never smooth sailing! There are always the ups and downs, whether it is music or something more personal.
There are times where you feel like you have done so much and what more can you do. I was told a few months ago to never give up. A lot of artist quit right before it’s their moment. So I feel that music is in me and growing up I could hear music all the time in my head.
I go home and try to create it. So it’s definitely a part of me, a part of my make-up, therefore, I could never leave music. You know I would feel lost without it and there's nothing that could fill that void.
Even when I am down and not feeling as optimistic as I usually do, eventually I am going right back to music because I can always hear music whether I am happy, sad, angry, frustrated, etc. There is always a song for it.
9. What makes Xavier Marquis tick? What are some things you really feel passionate about it? What is a repetitive theme you echo in most of your songs?
What makes me tick is my love for music. I am very creative and I once took one of those online tests, which basically told me I should be an engineer because of the way my mind works. I guess if you look at music it’s the same way. When you’re composing, you have a violin here, drums there and a bass there so you need to take all of these components in order to put them together to create a masterpiece. That is how my brain works.
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