‘We really are trying to make our own genre’: An Interview with Houston X
Interview by Charles Odugbesan
Recently I was made familiar with Houston X, a 21 year old rapper and producer born in Nigeria, now living in Slough by way of Maryland, USA. In a short period of time he has gained steady recognition with a unique and creative sound that is often labelled as a U.K answer to Travis Scott. But labels are for food items. I decided to get in touch with Houston himself to see if he was interested in an interview. A few weeks later, here he was, his producer Diego along with him as we all conversed over a hot pot of camomile at London Tea Exchange in Shoreditch. Nothing like a good old chin wag and a cuppa!
By the time you read this Houston X will have turned 21. Naturally one would assume he would have a huge celebration planned. But right away I was given an insight into his personality and mindset.
I don’t really celebrate birthdays like that. I don’t really like going out.
Nah, I find it boring. You know uni makes you go through so much and at times I found myself focusing on the wrong things. So I had to change it up and that’s when me and Diego started making music.
So what is music to you?
Music is my way of expressing myself. I go through a lot (of emotions) in my head and it’s hard to just bring that out to people generally. So I put it all into my lyrics with hidden messages that coincide with the beats.
And are you at ease once you’ve done that?
Yeah, because once you’ve made that track you know it’s going to be put out for the world to hear.
This question was a nice segway to a key ingredient of Houston X’s music that he uses to maximise his form of expression: atmosphere. You listen to them (the songs) when they’re being mixed and mastered and I would always stress to Diego that we need to create atmosphere atmosphere atmosphere!! Otherwise people aren’t going to feel the music as much as they should. This is what music is to me.
In keeping with the ‘atmosphere’ and emotion he likes to create in the studio, Houston always looks to channel those same elements and enhance them further on stage. So what’s the vibe like at your shows then?
All energy! I like to make it an experience. All my musical influences tell great mysterious stories when they perform. When Diego and I are discussing a show we always want to make it as natural as possible. We don’t like to plan absolutely every part of the performance. We plan it to a point and then the rest is based on how we feel.
Any musical influences you guys have?
It’s kinda shifted over time (genre wise). My mum was in the choir at church so I started off listening to a lot of gospel music. Then in the school days, drill music was really popping over here but then afterwards, I got to uni and met so many different people that were showing me different types of music. One of my best friends, Tee, he introduced me to artists like Travis & Young Thug and it changed my life.
I told Houston and Diego that listening to the music they create is like tuning in to a musical experiment. Like a modern day representation of how technology and globalisation have expanded the Hip Hop genre. An example would be the recent release of his single ‘Mayfair’. You might have never seen music like this 5, 10, 20 years ago, but music is so interchangeable these days that it allows artists to push boundaries. Their retort backed up the theory. I think what’s interesting about us is (when we make music) we look at what’s relevant in not only the hip hop scene, but also the electronic scene, the raggaeton scene etc etc and we just think “How can we incorporate this all into one track?”… We’re really trying to make our own genre!
I saw you did some modelling recently for Harvey Nichols? Speak on that man!
My good friend Seth left Uni in second year and he said to himself that he was gonna pursue fashion and photography. Now he works for Harvey Nichols! So anyways we’re talking and he says he has an opportunity for me to model for Harvey Nichols menswear. He told me “I have to say yes because this is something I can visualise you doing.” Honestly it was a blessing to be able to do it and to have that connection. Shout out Seth!!
Finally, I asked the boys a little bit about what they have seen and realised as they try to make their way in the music world. The right people have gravitated to us and we don’t have to force this energy with anyone. Everyone we’ve met has been a go getter like us… Diego works as a manager and I remember calling and and telling him ‘(If we’re gonna make it) You have to quit your job!’
I left the interview truly believing that I had just met a talented individual, strong willed and hard working who spoke with great passion and belief in his craft. Houston X is a man hell bent on pursuing his dreams. Be sure to check out his latest videos ‘Mayfair‘ and ‘Blu Room‘.