Architecting every nuance of his vision with high-tech industrial sound design to create futuristic pop gems, MkX’s music has garnered media attention from Pitchfork, NYLON, Popdust, Hollywood Life, Brooklyn Vegan, Yahoo, NME, CelebMix, and more.
An accomplished songwriter, producer, and pop scholar who uses his encyclopedic understanding of pop music to craft his own world, MkX draws his sonic and visual aesthetics from millennial nostalgia and pulls inspiration from producers Max Martin, Rami Yacoub, Darkchild, Sophie, and Cashmere Cat alongside multifaceted artists like Lady Gaga and Tinashe. MkX also produced and co-wrote “Young & Wild” for K-Pop supergroup TWICE‘s platinum-selling EP YES or YES which hit #1 in South Korea and Japan. Before emerging as a solo artist under the moniker MkX – where the “X” represents self-expression through his art – MkX previously toured with Ariana Grande, Christina Perri, Rixton, and more to help the world find their own “X” before attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Divine caught up with MkX to ask him some questions. Welcome, MkX!
We love “Welcome To 2021!” What was your creative process like for the track?
Wow thank you, I’m so glad you like it! I actually came up with the idea in the shower. I immediately started writing the song that night and finished recording/producing/mixing in about a week. It was kind of a last minute idea, so I worked really hard to make sure I could get it out before New Years’.
What was your initial reaction when the track started to get used by some of TikTok’s biggest stars?
I was ecstatic! My intention with this record was to create something that would impact people in a positive way. I wanted to put out something optimistic so we could all celebrate the end of the crazy chapter that was 2020. Seeing these influencers use the song was super surreal. They really helped the song spread and serve its intended purpose. I couldn’t be happier!
Describe your next music coming down the pipeline and what’s next for you:
I’m really excited about the new music I’ve been working on. It has a lot of the attitude from early 2000s Pop music mixed with some futuristic/gritty sound design. I love blending those two worlds together to create something new and different.
What is your creative process like?
My creative process is very sporadic. Of course, I’ll sometimes sit down and plan to write a song, but my greatest ideas always come at the most unexpected times. I get a lot of ideas in the shower, so I’ll literally dry off mid-shower to grab my phone and type lyrics before I forget them. A handful of times I’ve left class to “go to the bathroom” so I could record a voice memo for a melody idea. When I get a spurt of creativity, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to seize it before it goes away.
What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song to perform is probably the intro to my show. I programmed a hologram of my face to talk to the audience, so I always get a kick out of seeing people’s initial reactions. They always freak out!
Have you always been interested in music? Was there a particular song/performance that made you say “Woah! I want to do that!”?
I’ve been interested in music since I popped out of the womb HAHAHAHAHA. My first memory of being fascinated by music production was when I was three years old. I remember Shakira would put out these remix CDs that had the same song remixed in 7-10 different versions. I always thought it was so interesting how the same song could be transformed in so many different ways.
Of your own music, do you have a favorite? If so, can you pin down why?
I’ve noticed that my favorite song is always the song I’m currently working on. I usually jam out to the different demo stages of the song and try to think of things to add to it. I’ll play the song so much that by the time I put it out I’ll be kinda tired of it. Once I release a song, I don’t voluntarily listen to it that often unless I’m rehearsing/performing it. It’s kind of ironic.
What draws you to your preferred genre?
I love Pop music so much because there’s almost a science to it. Pop songs have to be catchy and have a sense of familiarity so people will gravitate towards them. But they also have to be unique enough that they stand out from everything that’s been done before. I find that contrast to be really intriguing, it’s like an art form within itself.
What makes you nostalgic?
My memories are often linked to smells, so I feel really nostalgic if I smell a certain candle, soap, food, or cologne I used during a certain time period. A lot of times, certain songs will get linked to certain smells from different time periods. For example, if I listen to a song I used to listen to a lot in 2013, my brain somehow gets tricked into smelling certain memories from that time period. It’s pretty weird but really cool.
What would be a good theme song for your life?
“Just Dance” by Lady Gaga.
If you could learn any language fluently what would it be?
Probably Korean. I’m very inspired by K-Pop sonically and visually, so it would be really cool to understand the lyrics and interviews to get the full experience.
What do you think the greatest invention has been?
Definitely the internet. It’s really incredible how the internet has allowed us to connect with each other in ways that were never possible before. The internet is definitely normalized by now, but taking a step back and remembering life pre-internet is pretty fascinating.
If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to care less about what other people think. I was really self-conscious of what people thought of me growing up, so I tried to change myself to blend in with everyone else. Once I moved to the city and started studying at Berklee College of Music, I really learned to embrace the things that made me different. Now I use those things as my superpower.
MkX, thanks so much for spending time with us, and we wish you all the best for 2021