Currently set to release “Virtues” album, Vex has built himself a reputation that is known to most in the Tampa area. His music is some of the most unique and inspiring in the industry. Vex blends a rainbow of sounds in his works that draw inspiration from pop, dance, metal and electronica. Vex began his career as an instrumentalist before moving on to production and engineering. Vex’s next step in his journey would be to focus on his own artistry. He soon dropped a series of attention-grabbing singles, followed by a jaw dropping EP, “X.VEX”. Two songs, entitled ‘Hydro’ and ‘Games With The Devil’ received huge success and radio play, which turned the media’s attention onto him. Fast forward to today and he has performed all across Florida, from Orlando to Miami, and most recently at ‘The Orpheum’ in Tampa. Vex is set to move to the next level with the album “Virtues”.
- When and how did you get started playing guitar and then move to engineering and producing music?
Vex: I was around 11 years old when I started listening to Metallica. I would hear Kirk Hammett shred the guitar and I was inspired to do the same. I taught myself how to play a lot of Metallica songs on guitar. Around 15 years of age, I was introduced to rap music and I loved the deep bass it showcased. I felt that there was a strong resemblance in the countercultures of Metal and Hip Hop. So I saved some funds and bought a productions software and began to study composition. This led me to my eventual role as a producer and engineer.
- What was it about creating music for others that made it interesting for you?
Vex: Honestly, I loved to impress people. I would pour my soul into creating a song, and when someone genuinely enjoyed my product, it made me feel extraordinary. This intrinsic motivation drove my music career.
- What were some of the main challenges you faced when starting out as a producer and how have they changed over time?
Vex: The main challenge I faced and that most producers face is being taken seriously and building your reputation. I was able to overcome these by collaborating with bigger artists in the area and providing quality songs to them. I did this over the course of 5 years to continuously build my reputation as well as an arsenal of connections within the industry.
- What was your first hardware/software set-up as a producer like? Has your setup evolved since then, and what for you is currently the most important piece of gear in your production process now?
Vex: When I first started, I used Presonus Studio One, a 2i2 interface, and an MXL microphone. I didn’t even have a Midi when I first started because I was too broke, I was stuck manually composing the notes within the software. Thankfully, I do have a midi now but my set up hasn’t changed much, other than a better MXL microphone. I think a lot of people get it twisted, you don’t need all this expensive hardware to make good music. I know tons of people with thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment in their set up and the music they make is subpar. It’s not about what equipment you use, it’s how you use the equipment. The most important piece of gear in my production process is the software. Presonus offers editing abilities that could only be paralleled by Ableton.
- What is your process when composing a beat? Where do you start from and how do you develop your ideas
Vex: For me, there is no process in creativity. I’ve had entire songs built off of one melody, I’ve also had entire songs built off of a bass line or drum line. One thing is for certain, the lyrics never come first for me. I’ve always felt that the instrumental inspires the emotion which puts forth the lyrics.
- How strict are you with genres and styles? Are you comfortable working with most of them, and what is your absolute preferred style?
Vex: I’m not strict at all. As mentioned before, I’ve gone from metal head to hip-hop. That being said, I’m very comfortable working with most genres. However, my current preferred style is hip-pop, a cross between rap and pop.
- Besides being a producer, you’re also concentrating on your artistry. Do you also write your own lyrics?
Vex: Absolutely, I’ve recently begun pursuing my own artistry. All of my lyrics are self-written as well. Something everyone should know about me is that I hate ghost writing.
- Between the beats and lyrics which key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your music?
Vex: There are certain components that have to be present in both the beat and the lyrics. The beat has to invoke the emotion that the lyrics are trying to portray. Once I feel that the beat accomplishes that, I move to lyrics. The lyrics must be focused and impactful. A lot of music these days lacks concentration in lyricism. My biggest ingredients are impact and expression.
- What do you think sets you apart from the massive crowd of artists/producers coming up now?
Vex: Focus and sound quality. There are many artists out there with great music. However, a lot of them lack quality in the mix. Either that or they lack direction in their career. My priority in my music is sound quality. If it doesn’t sound professional, how could you possibly expect people to perceive you as a professional? It’s also great to have a clear direction for your career. Set achievable goals and never stop moving towards them.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant moment in your career so far?
Vex: Definitely performing at the Orpheum in Tampa. I was actually just last week. It was a huge venue with a crowd close to 300 people. I couldn’t describe the energy that I felt on stage. Seeing the crowd dancing and singing along to my music was one of the most gifting experiences of my career to date.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure / or do, in your life or music career so far?
Vex: I struggled through a long period of addiction. This when on from 16 to 19 years of age. During this period of my life, I didn’t have any family around except for my mom, and I had lost all of my friends. I was left to my demons. I was at a crossroads in my life, I knew that I could either swim or drown. An overdose that nearly ended my life was the breaking point. I pushed through rehabilitation and moved all of my focus towards music. I believe the experience made me stronger and mad me who I am today.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist/producer excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Vex: The first thing people should know about me is that I don’t discouraged, I take notes and grow. I’ve been through hell and back, and if that didn’t discourage me, nothing will. The only thing that excites me is what the future holds. Being independent means that I can’t speak what I truly believe without being a puppet. I want to use my music to make an impact on the world and people’s lives.
- Are you satisfied about the way the music business works in today’s digital age with platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Beatport and Soundcloud, or are there any improvements you’d like to see to get your music out there?
Vex: Contrary to what a lot of people believe, I think the music business has made music more accessible than ever now. It’s never been easier for an artist to upload their music on a streaming site and be heard. There might be less money to be made from it, but I’m not in this industry for money, that’s a secondary benefit for me. I’m in this industry to inspire and make change.
- In general, do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Vex: Internet entities and social media are you sensual to building a career these days. I can’t stress enough how important exposure is to an artist career. Personally, our use every social media outlet possible to push my music and connect with audiences.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Vex: Ooh that’s a hard one. My style covers a wide variety but I’ll limit it to four words. Energetic, Meaningful, Inspiring, and Relatable.
- Could you tell us something about your latest release, as well as your upcoming album “Virtues”?
Vex: My latest release was my EP “X.VEX”. I believe that it showcases my variety of styles very well. My fans absolutely loved it and I would definitely refer anybody who wants to get a feel for my sound to listen to the EP. “Virtues” is an Album releasing in late June that will be a little more focused than “X.VEX” genre wise. This album will mainly be showcasing artistry and variation in hip-hop. I have allowed a few test groups to preview the album early and the feedback has been phenomenal.
- Do you have a favorite track among your latest releases, which maybe has an interesting backstory and/or message?
Vex: My favorite track on my latest release is definitely “Games With the Devil”. It talks about my personal experience with addiction and how it tore through many of my relationships. This song came directly from my heart and I hope that it can inspires or bring change to anyone who is going through the same thing I did.
- When you were starting out, which producers and/or artists influenced or made an impact on you most?
Vex: There are many of artists that influenced my style. My biggest influences have been Metallica, Sade, Drake, Sam Smith, and Post Malone.
- Currently, if you could work with any artist or producer of your choice, who would that be?
Vex: Sam Smith or Sade hands down. They have the voices of angels. I can clearly remember the first time that I heard each of them sing and being absolutely dumbfounded by the level of artistry and talent.
- Do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in 2019?
Vex: Although I have many goals set into place. I have two that I would like to achieve by the end of 2019. Firstly, I am working on building my presence on the Internet. Secondly, I would like to expand my Fanbase to the point where I can begin touring outside of Florida. I feel that these are the next steps that I need to take to push my career to the next level.