X.nte & NO HIGHS Interview

In this special Music Mondays Interview Rei Low got the chance to sit down with X.nte & nohighs to discuss their music, the internet, video games and much more in this Music Mondays Exclusive. 


Rei: Angel 933 released alongside a fighting game. what significance be that nostalgic or cathartic, do fighting games, like tekken, have to y’all?

X.nte: I find them fun, honestly. I enjoy getting better, and I think high combo execution type stuff feeds into fast paced music. 

Rei: Do you listen to VGM?

X.nte: Used to. When I played games in the drum n bass heavy PS1 era. 

Rei: What significance does that have on your sound if at all? 

X.nte: Not very much, however, growing up I liked having the visual of the game match the music with the game.

Rei: What were you listening to around the time of the release of angel 933?

X.nte: Rock music, electronic, hip hop, it all ties in and influences it. You can hear that in the release too. NO EYES added their own influences, which is shown on the record.

Rei: Does the Atari teenage riot or the alec empire influence you at all?

X.nte: I heard when I was younger it was in rotation. 

Rei: What are some of your acid and hxc influences? 

X.nte: Acid has kinda gotten lost. I use acid sounds and enjoy them but I don’t listen to it. The 303 is something I've been trying to incorporate more. I listen to really heavy bass music like rotator, that has been a thing, has its own sound with the subs. 

Rei: What are some good dnb recommendations?

X.nte: A lot of it was liquid dnb winamp radio. 

NOHIGHS: Early on, I listened to a lot of darkstep, Current Value, Cooh, Donny, more like metal music influenced stuff but also as hi-tech as possible. As for now, anything that Vivid Recs and Tim Reaper are touching.

Rei: What do you think about SVBKVLT?

NOHIGHS: SVBKVLT is moving in a direction I want to explore. I think a good placeholder would be: Post-Amen. People are making it and are very exciting - more biological than the usual jungle stuff. I think there is always a new generation that pushes out the old: Every genre becomes 50 years dudes making 50 eps on 50 different label - so you need to push things somehow.

Rei: I am guilty of using this concept as well, but do you identify at all with the label “internet music”?

NOHIGHS: That’s so so. I've been into internet music since 2007. It's a legitimate sort of thing. We should study what happens and its similarities to irl scenes. It’s still very undefined. Serial Experiments Lain breakcore isn’t internet music; Internet music contributes to something that is greater. Internet music stands in Defiance of copyright fosters a sense of openness to new ideas and positions. Spotify and internet music aren’t compatible. A collective aspect is an important distinction. You’ve got a thing where the collectives are fighting against commodification of their art while commodifying their existence to eat off their art. Spotify specifically is flattening scenes and allowing people to outsource their musical taste. There’s no real digging, no more discogs stuff. Recommendations from Spotify limit the ability to find more music, and in the pandemic there was less potential to find new ideas since everyone was online, and people were being sold-to at 200% capacity. 

Rei: I recently read a concept of psychedelia being the opposite of nostalgia. Do you straddle these two concepts, or is nostalgia not a contributor to your sounds?

X.nte: They can definitely exist together and that was something listeners talked about. Nostalgic aspects- I get that I will sample things, but that's not my intention. I grew up with this and I want to apply it. It is from my past. Y2k revival has been going on for a decade. 

NOHIGHS: And It makes sense we're in this bubble. What's new isn’t pushed to the front. People seem stuck, rather than incapable. People aren't willing to get out of their comfort zone. Covid is such a weird time, but it's very easy to try something different. 

Rei: Why don’t you describe our form of competition and collaboration with for example 2hrsc and warjuke?

NOHIGHS: First and foremost I am not a controlling party. Warjuke draws its lineage from wardub: how much shit can you talk. We're gonna show off our tracks and competition and see how they stand up on the dancefloor. Dancing and production are competitive. That’s been the case since dub sound system stuff. People are making tracks quick, people are flipping quick and that's a big motivator. You gotta deliver a response. If you start looking at interviews of the Chicago footworks scene, they’re not focusing on a particular rhythm; it’s “what's the wildest thing I can do to flip this sample into something new”. They’re trying to find different rhythms to fit into a footwork track. This year was very weird since it had almost no involvement from the Chicago scene. Some people were being called out for doing it for the first time. Acts were hitting up vets but weren’t getting responses. It’s almost oversaturated.

Rei: What happened to your album- I think it was called Crumbling?

X.nte: That will come back. I didn ‘t get paid for any of these releases. I put out a track for a compilation from the label that released crumbling, and it wasn’t something I put effort into. To my surprise it was for an NFT. 

Rei: Let’s talk about the recent history of BXC. My experience is that y’all and 909 worldwide really bridged the gap between the early breakcore stuff and the contemporary scene. 

X.nte: Kitty on Fire and 909 definitely bridged the gap, there wasn’t a central collective until Paris [aka Golden Boy] and Casper [Mcfadden] started networking. That was the first push to get it known in the US.

NOHIGHS: Also can I jump in about- psychedelia and nostalgia are not mutually exclusive. I’ve been on psychedelics and been nostalgic for an experience I didn't have myself. In terms of the music, especially with breaks, the feeling of nostalgia is inevitable. We're still using the breaks and callbacks from parties not even our parents went to. The music needs a grounding element like an amen break, but also it's so easy to sell people what they already have. Like ravecore: campy and boring, but easy to sell tix. You’ve got ppl who are trying to do something different. And of course they're not gonna be able to sell decontextualized nokia ringtones because we exist in an industry but there has to be some kind of shift.

Rei: Recently NoBells blog wrote about the return of regional acts, especially for online people, people like NBA Youngboy and Yeat. Do you see that becoming more common as time moves on?

NOHIGHS: It's that just a lot of these artists don’t have a platform because there's only 3 or 5 places to find music. But yea I definitely think that internet music has a kind of “regional” aspect despite being “internet music”.

Rei: So let’s actually talk about small labels, because I have only gotten paid from self released music. Also, there’s research that shows that middle managers only lower wages and don’t raise productivity, and I’ve read something sent to our chat about Cottage Capitalism in a similar discussion. Explain how these ideas fit together.

X.nte: It would be different if it was a free release, and it would be a donation straight to them. Other than putting it on bandcamp they didn’t do much. The expectation is that the artist will get that money. It wasn’t clear how to donate to the label. You can set up a free release with no donation. There's an expectation. I don’t know how you would do it that way.

NOHIGHS: What cottage capitalism means in that context is they're creating capitalism in their own home/at a personal scale and exploiting people because they are forced to exist within the framework of something scummy.

Follow X.nte: twitter.com/amenxnte 

Follow NOHIGHS: twitter.com/20xxhellscape 

Written By Rei Low: twitter.com/_rocktimist