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Exploring XDescend’s Journey Through Music And Creativity

XDescend, a prominent figure in the Texas electronic dance music scene, has forged an exceptional journey within the realm of EDM, drawing inspiration from diverse musical influences and experiences. With a distinct approach to music production, Max Fotey, aka. XDescend has gained recognition for his innovative sound design and the ability to create immersive sonic experiences. “Brainstorm”, his recent standout track, holds significance in a special way, showcasing his talent for blending house genres and pushing the boundaries of electronic dance music.

We had an engaging discussion about his musical influences, the inspiration behind this exceptional track, and his distinctive production and sound design.


XDescend’s Background and Musical Influences


EDM Texas: Could you share your journey with us, taking us back to your early life, musical influences, and how you found your way into the EDM scene?


XDescend: My parents had the biggest musical influence when I was young. Around the age of seven, my favorite song was Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” made in 1968. I listened to whatever they listened to, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are bands that came to my mind when I was that age. As I got older my music taste started to change. I wanted something heavier. I wanted something that would make me feel more emotion. When I was 13, I remember listening to Drowning Pool's "Bodies” often. but after a few years, that sort of music wasn't heavy enough for me. By high school, I was listening to mostly Death Metal, everywhere I went. Even in class, I would sneak the headphone cable through the long sleeve of a black hoodie, so I could hold the speaker in my hand while hiding the cable. Only then, I could listen to my music in one ear without anyone noticing if I put my elbow on the desk and my palm over my ears. I also took singing lessons and practiced death metal vocals. I was the lead singer of a short-lived band that covered a couple of songs. The band wasn’t successful. I didn’t listen to any form of modern electronic until I came across an album Genesis by the French electronic music duo Called Justice. About a year later when I had just turned 18 I got asked by a friend if I wanted to go to a rave. I immediately thought, “They still have those?!”. I went with a group of people to a club in Dallas called Afterlife. It was a culture shock! The music, people, dances, clothing, the candy, but my favorite part was the LED gloves. I quickly stopped learning how to play the guitar and I picked up gloving instead. Looking back this is what truly marked my change from Metal into EDM. The friends that took me to my first rave never went back again but I found new people there that I could talk to. In the rave scene, I felt more welcomed and judged less.


EDM Texas: Your unique style stands out in the EDM scene here in Texas! Could you talk about the musical influences that have played a pivotal role in shaping your one-of-a-kind sound? XDescend: My musical influences come from multiple genres and subgenres, including rappers, bands, and producers. Some of the greatest artists had one thing in common: they were all unique and sounded different from the other artists in their field. So, I didn’t attempt to sound like someone else. I simply aimed to be myself and strive to write music that I liked to listen to, aiming for distinctiveness. However, the music also needed to be similar enough to allow for mixing from one song to the next, making it appealing for DJs to play. It felt like a balancing act between these two spectrums. I was still learning how to strive the approrpiate balance, but I believed I was improving. If I could weave a meaningful message into the song, that would be a big plus for me.


XDescend
Photo Courtesy of Max Fotey

EDM Texas: Can you share some insight into the tracks that have been instrumental in propelling your recognition within the industry?


XDescend: Almost two years ago, my release, “The Underground”, signed with Gangsta House Records was my first official release under the previous spelling of my artist name, XDezend. A few months later, I was invited to do a guest mix for the label, which was hosted in Israel. This release along with a few remixes the following year helped me but I didn’t stop there. I made videos for the tunes to help promote them as well.



The Spark and Inspiration Behind “Brainstorm”

EDM Texas: What sparked the inspiration for the track, “Brainstorm”?

XDescend: When I saw there was a locals-only DFW music production competition hosted by Aftrlife Entertainment, I wanted to give it a shot! At that time, I was working on 3 or 4 different songs that started getting a little stale on the creative side, so I wanted to start something fresh. Instead of trying to think of something, I wanted to wait until a new idea “hit me”. Most of the time my best ideas come from out of nowhere instead of me trying to think of something right then, so I don't like to force creativity. Luckily, a few days later, in a spirit of creativity, the metaphor of “thoughts circling my mind, like water in the sky” came to me, and then I thought about how my thoughts could be almost like the water vapor in a cloud. Wanting to add an additional closing to the phrase I thought, “Boom, goes the Thunder”! The sentence contrasted harshly with the sentence before. I thought… wait a minute, that’s just like the thought patterns of someone with ADD/ADHD, like myself. However, this storm is inside the mind. When I was thinking about the song's title, the word “Brainstorm” emerged. The fact that it would be perfect for a play on words was a fantastic feeling for me. This put me on cloud nine and made me want to get started on the project in the studio. I jotted down the lyrics, planning to start working on the tune at a later date.

EDM Texas: Were there any personal experiences, events, or emotions that helped pave the creative process?


XDescend: I do my best to learn from every personal experience I encounter. I don’t want to be stuck in a mental state where I won’t grow as a person. I also want to treat others the way I would like to be treated, which is why I encourage others to grow as well. No one can force anyone else to think differently but you can show them other perspectives so that they may want to change themselves. Using metaphors and art is a unique way to describe something to someone they haven't seen or felt before. This is my motivation that keeps me moving forward in my creative processes and within my life as well.


EDM Texas: With “Brainstorm’s” incredible groove, what was your initial vision, and how did it transform as you delved into production?

XDescend: My initial vision was to put the listener in the middle of a soundscape that resembled a thunderstorm and the dynamics between calm and chaotic. When the storm rolled in, aka. For the drop, I opted for an A/B song structure. In this song structure, the beginning phrase (A) is typically 4 or 8 quarter notes long followed by the ending phrase (B) with the same number of quarter notes that was in the beginning phrase (A). This is a common type of structure within modern music whether it's one melodic phrase, a baseline, song lyrics, or even two completely different sounds: one on A and the other on B altogether, it's still an A/B structure. In Music theory, this can also be called tension and release or call and response. In “Brainstorm”, the first drop contained a recreated thunder sound (Phrase A). Then my recreation of what lightning would sound like if it made a sound (Phrase B) which was my call and response, thunder then lightning.


Listen to “Brainstorm” below:


XDescend’s Production and Sound Design


EDM Texas: Could you give us a glimpse into your studio setup and the tools you prefer to use when crafting your electrifying beats?


XDescend: Yes! The most important thing I use is Ableton, and I try to convert everything into audio files as quickly as possible. Even if I'm using a midi controller, or sampler like the Pioneer DJS-1000. If I have a plug-in opened up and its serum adds the main element in the song, but it’s still in the midi form, I can keep changing it and rearranging it. While this has its advantages, it also presents some drawbacks. If I keep changing it, the song will never get done. The audio file can be edited also but committing to an idea that I like is a good way to keep the music-making process moving forward. For audio monitoring, I have a pair of Krks speaker tops and an SSL 2+ USB audio interface, and for my vocals, I have a Rode NT1-A with an acoustic foam shield. However, the thing that helps me the most with my monitoring system is something called SoundID by Sonarworks. It will autocorrect your listening environment. It equalizes the room and alters the audio phase to minimize any phase cancellations as well! Making the studio sound as neutral as possible to the most ideal listening environment.


EDM Texas: Could you share some insights into your sound design techniques? How did you achieve that distinctive vibe that sets “Brainstorm” apart?

XDescend: To accomplish the soundscape that I wanted, I used the natural recordings of thunder, wind, rain, and hail then I placed the elements in their strategic places. For the thunder, I placed it just before the first downbeat to give the listener the anticipation of thunder about to strike. It was important to cut the low end off with an EQ so it wouldn’t muddy the mix. I added rain during the drop and disguised it as high hats. I accomplished this by wrapping the audio to make it have a repetitive musical pattern then added reverb, EQ, and compression to make it cohesive with the rest of the elements in the song. During the breakdown, I actually just ended up using the sound of Hail instead of rain, because with everything else going on in the mix, the rain sound didn’t cut through the mix like I wanted. The percussive sound of hail proved more effective, and with some EQ adjustments, it resembled the tranquil sound of rain.

XDescend
Photo Courtesy of Max Fotey

EDM Texas: The journey of creating “Brainstorm” must have had its share of highs and lows. Can you talk about any challenges you encountered during the production phase? Were there any breakthrough moments that truly pushed the track to the next level?

XDescend: The production of “Brainstorm” came along fairly smoothly, but it wasn’t until the first version was finished that I noticed a couple of issues. The biggest problem was the sub-bass. The sound was muddy and unclear. I wanted to make the bass similar to the sound of thunder but I also wanted the sound to translate well in a club setting. After a lot of trial and error using different techniques, I decided to completely redo the bass so that it could still sound like thunder but also hit clean in a club setting. Personally, when I make a track there are often times when after the mixdown I get close to finishing but there is some element that could be added or changed to give it that extra 5 or 10 percent. I then have to go backward in the music-making process to fix it, but I believe that extra detailed work is what takes a song to the next level. Like everything in life: hard work, commitment, time, and dedication will produce good results over time.


XDescend’s creative journey in producing “Brainstorm” has been a remarkable transformation from a background influenced by various music genres to finding a unique voice in the electronic dance world. His dedication to detail and commitment to pushing the track to the next level has resulted in an electrifying and impactful contribution to the EDM scene in Texas and beyond. This journey reflects his XDescend’s growth as an artist and his promising prospects in the world of electronic dance music.


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