S-X has just dropped a new album Anywhere But Here! We caught up with the Wolverhampton-based singer, songwriter, and producer to talk about the new record, collaborations, fan reactions, and 2024 plans!
S-X Interview | Student Pocket Guide
Hey S-X, thanks for your time! You’ve just dropped a new album Anywhere But Here – tell us please about the record, how long has it been in the making, and how are you feeling now it’s out!?
The new album, Anywhere But Here, has been a very long time in the making, to be honest. I was making some of the songs while my previous album, Things Change, was being made. The whole album was made as a skeleton in demo form, it was never really written. I was going through a phase where I wasn’t really finishing songs, so it was nice for me to have a selection of ideas. I always call them skeletons because it’s not the full song, it’s just the bones, you know, even though it’s all there but I haven’t added the meat and everything! It was good to get back into how I felt during the time when I was writing it, which helped me to finish the songs. Don’t always sit there and write a song in format, go back and remember how you were feeling at the time, it was quite nice actually. Making it was actually really fun, even though it’s quite a sad album, my breakup album, it’s a personal album. On top of all of that, I think it was actually quite a nice journey making it because it reminded me of how far I’ve come and how far I’ve got to go as well. And now it’s out, I just feel relieved. It’s my first album being back independent since Things Change so I’m just enjoying being back in full creative control and doing whatever it is I want to do as the artist S-X. I’m feeling truly honestly blessed to be back in this space.
Was it a challenge to whittle the track selection down to the featured 10 songs?
Yes, it was actually. We were going to make it a bit longer, and have a few more songs but my first mixtape, Reasons, my second, Temporary, and another one, True Colours, have all been ten tracks long. So I’ve gone back to that with Anywhere But Here, making it more of the classic S-X sound. But it was longer, I’ve got a lot of songs that I’m sitting on, or skeletons! There will be more music in the future.
Where did you draw inspiration from when writing this album?
It came from a few personal experiences, one was a breakup, it’s quite heavily written around that, leaving someone and what you go through missing someone, everything that goes with a breakup. Some people might be going through one right now and this is the perfect album for them! That’s pretty much where it came from.
You’re a big name, gaining millions of views/streams – I presume you get lots of fans reaching out and sharing how your music makes them feel, how it’s helped them, etc. Are there any standout reactions or DMs you’ve gotten which have maybe resonated with you the most?
Honestly, I really seem to get a lot of DMs, pretty much everyday from people telling me how their music resonates. Although a lot of my songs are personally written about my own personal battles with relationships and life in general, I think I write it in a way that it’s not subjectively written about a relationship, per se. So the person listening can adapt it to whatever it is they feel and that’s what I think happens. I’ve had messages from people who are addicts, some people are on the street and they’ve literally said my music helps them, it’s a guide to help them keep going. That was a really deep message to get, I wouldn’t expect someone going through it on that level to be relating to my music. That’s the power of music, it’s beautiful for everyone. That’s definitely one that really hit me.
In terms of the message the record delivers, the fact it speaks to people navigating life’s struggles – as a coping mechanism yourself, how do you keep your mind healthy?
I’d say this album was written around quite a down time in my life, a depressing time to be honest. I openly speak about my struggles with mental health issues, in my music too. It comes directly with that. To keep my mind healthy, I’ve just done a boxing fight recently on KSI and Tommy Fury’s undercard. Unfortunately I did lose! But the battle isn’t over yet, I’m going to keep training, come back stronger and get my win. I would say realising how important exercise is and discipline and fitness towards your own life really does benefit your mental health. And your physical health of course but it’s just really helped me with a lot of things I was going through and has kept me in a really structured life, rather than me being up and down, here there and everywhere. Structure, discipline and fitness are important, I’d just be all over the place otherwise.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names including the likes of Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper and J. Cole. Are there any collaborations which you have most enjoyed, or that have maybe pushed you more than others in terms of creativeness and workflow?
I’d say working with KSI was a big one. I kind of came into his musical journey when he had just finished his mixtape with Randolph. It hadn’t really had a chart success yet, I came in right at the beginning and linked him and Mams together. Being so heavily involved in that first project was really a moment for me, to get my exec producer title going alongside Mams. I really enjoyed that because it allowed me to put a different type of hat on, and it was the hat I really do want to wear in the sense of being able to get people to trust my vision and keep being able to push my sound, I definitely experienced that with KSI. Other than that, working with Childish Gambino was pretty good because I got to collaborate with Ludwig Göransson who’s a huge producer and movie score writer as well, he does some of the biggest films. Being able to collaborate with them so early on in my career was really eye-opening.
So far, it looks like your most popular YouTube video is with KSI – what was it like working with him, and how did this collab come about?
KSI is a longtime friend of mine. He’s someone I met on the internet but turned out to be a real friend and that’s still going today. It was really organic, we met at the studio and just clicked. We’ve made many songs together, it’s always a blessing to work with JJ (KSI) because he’s a friend, we just understand each other’s workflow and we know what we’re here to do. Whether it’s Gogglebox, in the studio, on stage, I think you can see our energies are impactful and infectious. It’s synonymous, we just understand each other and flow well. It’s always just lovely to work with him.
I understand that in your early years, you used to beatbox in school, started DJing, and even travelled down to London and stood outside the Radio 1 studio with copies of your mixes! Would you say this determination helped set you aside from others and has this been a part of the reason for your inevitable success?
I always say this in interviews but I used to read about American producers/rappers, I think it was Pharell but I could be mistaken, someone said that ‘if you want to be where an artist is, you need to go to where they are’. If you know they’re performing somewhere, doing a radio show or some promo, that’s your chance. I used to literally wait outside! That gave me the hunger to succeed, that was at a time where there was no Spotify, no YouTube so you had to be out there in the streets, putting the work in to get noticed and get contacts/links to people. It was a very different time but I’d say that’s exactly what has made me get to where I’ve got to, especially being from Wolverhampton as well. There aren’t any people from here that are doing what I’m doing so it’s good to be proactive from such a young age.
What is your top tip to anyone wanting to pursue their dream?
You know what, I don’t know. My dream is I want to become the biggest artist I can become, doing arena tours, I see myself performing on big stages in front of thousands of fans. I won’t give up until I’m there, and I won’t even give up when I am there! That’s where I see myself, I think the way I’m going to get there is consistency, a solid plan, a good team of friends who are willing to help me and just great music, hard work and consistency. The main word is consistency, anyone wanting to pursue their dream, just consistently live, dream and work at it. It won’t fail if you don’t stop, something’s got to come from it.
So your dream is to do big arena tours?
Yeah, I want to sell out arena tours, see thousands of people singing back my songs to me. That’s always been my dream since I was a kid. It’s crazy because I didn’t even start singing until I was 25 so I’m still new to this.
Please summarise 2023, and tell us what fans can expect from you in 2024?
2022 was a year that kind of broke me, to be honest. In 2023 I was still a bit broken and thought I was finding myself until I really did. Now I’m back as an independent artist, got a lot of life independence back too. On top of what I’ve been speaking about in the project, it’s been a whole turnaround. It’s a full circle moment for the new year. I’ll be back dropping loads of music, I’ve got more music coming next year, lots of music videos, lots of collaborations. Even shows towards the end of the year, hopefully I’ll be back on tour. It’s going to be a very big year, music wise. It’s great to be back as an independent artist, Anywhere But Here feels like such a personal project which is why I released all ten tracks over ten weeks, so people who are dedicated fans can experience that. Now the album’s out, enjoy it! Take it in. I’ll be back very very soon with new music.
Credit: S-X’s new album Anywhere But Here is out now.
S-X Interview | Student Pocket Guide