We chatted to the Devon based artist James Truscott, aka Lxrs, about his upcoming debut EP and the inspirations behind his music. After releasing his first few tracks last year, including ‘Lover Boy’, a collaboration with singer Leora Garling, James has been continuously working on developing and fine-tuning his sound.
Gaby: Can you firstly tell us about your background and how you got into making music?
James: Well I originally started playing the guitar in primary school but I stopped because I didn’t like any of the music, it was stuff like ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and songs that you don’t want to play. But I picked up guitar again when I was around 14 because we had to do a performance in music and I thought ‘I didn’t want to sing, I’ll play guitar.’ So I learnt something and I didn’t really stop playing, and then I formed a band with mates and stuff through sixth form. We mainly did Indie and Blues covers. and stuff. My main kind of background was that kind of Rock guitar like ‘Jimi Hendrix’ and also indie bands, so that was what I grew up listening to. That’s why I started writing ‘vibey Indie’ things. When I got to uni I really focussed on Jazz guitar and Hip hop so that influenced my writing quite a lot so I tried to bring together the ‘vibey indie’ with like Jazz and Hip hop to try and blend it together.
Gaby: So is a lot of your music often quite different in terms of experimenting with different genres all the time?
James: Yeah, that’s been one of my main dilemmas recently because I experiment with so many different genres. I want to hone in one and be like that’s the ‘Lxrs’ sound instead of having random jumbles of like one 1975 song or one Hip hop song or one really ‘vibey’ kind of song. I want it to be a perfect compilation of all of them but I am still trying to find that balance.
Gaby: What inspires your song writing?
James: So I used to write about how things like anxiety and your internal feelings can affect an external relationship. I was really interested by the concepts of cliché things like ‘love at first sight’ and you know the feeling when you’re falling in love at the start of a relationship. I mainly write about relationships, that’s pretty much all I write about and in my deeper lyrics I like to talk about how your internal feelings and conflict with external and exterior relationships. So that was more towards the start, but ever since I started listening to more Hip hop I prefer writing more sexualised songs that are about wanting someone and putting out a confident exterior but on the interior there’s that emotion there where you need someone. Again I want to hone it in between so it’s not so out there talking about really really overtly sexual stuff, I want i to be more like ‘read between the lines’ kind of thing.
“I mainly write about relationships, that’s pretty much all I write about and in my deeper lyrics I like to talk about how your internal feelings and conflict with external and exterior relationships”James Truscott – Lxrs
Gaby: Who are your main musical influences?
James: I’d say right now probably ‘The 1975’,’they’re a big influence in terms of songwriting and lyrics. ‘The Neighbourhood’ really influenced my first songs, especially their album ‘Wiped Out’ which is really vibey and echoey, that was what kind of started that genre for me. Also a lot of the jazziness and guitar was inspired by Tom Misch, I try to incorporate that but it’s hard to mix ‘Tom Misch’ with these other genres because it’s so like Jazz, so I kind of need to tone down that. In terms of Hip hop, I really like ‘Tory Lanez’, but I can’t ever hop to write things like ‘Tory Lanez’, that’s just not me. But in terms of beats he’s quite a big influence I’d say.
Check the video for ‘Make You Feel’ here:
Gaby: You collaborated with ‘Leora Garling’ on your track ‘Lover Boy’, how did this come about and what do you think collaborating with other artists – is this something you’d like to do more of in the future?
James: Yeah for sure, it was so much fun collaborating with Leora. She’s so talented and amazing at singing and singing isn’t my strong point so it was nice to have someone else bring that strength into the song. For me recording my singing is really hit and miss like ‘I hope this is good one, I hope this sounds good’. But with Leora it was just flawless, straight away she’d record one and that was it, perfect, didn’t have to do it again. How it came about is I was trying to grow my Instagram and I just posted ‘anyone got any songs to make a Lo-fi version of, and Leora had just released her original version of ‘Lover Boy’ and was like “make a Lo-fi version of ‘Lover Boy’”. Then it turned out it fit perfectly with this beat I had just made and it turned into a a fully fledged collab. So then I thought I want to try putting my own verse on it and Leora sent me some more lyrics to add to the song so it’s a bit more back and forth. It kind of just all fell together, I think it was within two weeks I had finished the song from scratch and got it out two weeks later. It’s the fastest I’ve ever written a song.
Gaby: How long does it usually take you to write a song from your initial ideas to the finished track?
James: It can vary so much. ‘Make You Feel’ I wrote the original lyrics when I was 18 and I released it when I was 21. That was mainly because ‘Make You Feel’ was originally Indie/Jazz. I kind of kept the lyrics in back for ages waiting for the right kind of thing, but when I started listening to an ‘Anders’ song (he’s very like sexy vibes), I wanted to try and put a sexy-esque beat behind it which fit with the lyrics. So yeah it can really vary!
Gaby: Describe your style of music in three words?
James: I’d say Indie, Night, Pop.
Gaby: You are currently finishing your first EP, when are you hoping to release it and what’s it about?
James: I am really hoping to release it by the end of February or at least by the end of March. I’ve got my Masters on at the moment so it’s hard to find time to record things, but I’ve got four of them finished I just need to master them. I want to re-master a couple of the track because they have already been released. This EP is mainly more I’d say Hip hop focused with more Hip hop beats and all the songs revolve around lustful thinking for someone else and wanting someone. Like taking someone back after a night out, those kind of things. That’s the theme of the EP, really like that night vibe. One of my songs which is going to be called ‘Needy’ is probably the most dreamy one where it has loads of really slow beats, really thick bass and echoey guitars which is a really slow song. But I also plan on putting ‘Lover Boy’ in there as well which is a lot more sped up, a lot more jazzy and Hip hoppy. I kind of want to change that one a little bit to make it fit in with the rest of the theme.
Gaby: When you talk about ‘making beats’, what do you use and how do you do it?
James: So I make beats using ‘Ableton Live’ and normally it starts off because I’ve heard a beat in someone else’s song and thought ‘oh that’s cool’, they might have certain point where the hi-hat comes in so I’ll try using that. Then the whole beat might revolve around something, a lot of the time in revolves around a guitar hook because that’s just what I am used to playing and that’s my comfort zone. I just find one of Ableton’s core kits because I can’t be bothered to find the snare myself, i do that later when a song starts the form and want to be more specific with the way the drums sound. So once I have the drums I start adding everything else, I normally go on an app called ‘Slice’ which is like ‘Spotify’ but for samples. Yeah it’s so much fun and so easy on Ableton, you can just see everything you’re doing in one space.
Gaby: Okay cool, final question, where do you see yourself in the future as an artist?
James: Well what I want and where I see myself I think are slightly different because at this point it’s very early in music career. But what I would like is to have a group of people that I know are there to listen to music I put out and have that kind of base following and vibe with the kind of thing I vibe to. I think it’s just a nice feeling to have that people can enjoy the stuff you make. I’d love to be able to do live shows but for that I need to improve my singing. I’ve been getting lessons so I can get to a point where I feel really comfortable and put on a really good show where people would walk away and be like that was sick!