XOV is a Stockholm-based artist and music producer known for his symbolic songwriting and dark, hiphop-infused pop sound. He's been featured in i-D Magazine, Vice, and Al Jazeera, and gained the praise of Max Martin, who predicted his soon-to-be debut hit long before it was released.
XOV first gained attention in 2015 when he was chosen by Lorde to contribute to the Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack, alongside Kanye West, Grace Jones, and Ariana Grande. His debut single, "Boys Don't Cry," received critical acclaim, with critics describing him as "the lovechild of James Blake and the Weeknd." He followed this up with the hit "Lucifer," which achieved Gold and Platinum status in Sweden and charted in Europe. Since then, his music has been streamed over 100 million times.
XOV, whose real name is Damian Homat Ardestani, was born in Iran and fled to Sweden as a refugee when he was one year old. He grew up in Tensta, a suburb of Stockholm with a large immigrant population. His father struggled with the difficulties of becoming a refugee and eventually developed a severe drug addiction that took his life and shattered the family unit. XOV started writing poetry as a way to cope with his emotions and understand himself. His talent was recognized when one of his poems was published at the age of nine after winning a competition at Enbacksskolan in Tensta. The poem, titled "The Palm Tree," explored the theme of displacement and the impact of leaving one's homeland, themes that XOV would continue to explore in his music. He began his journey into symbolic writing, which eventually led to his pursuits in rap and singing. Despite music being his passion, it took him a long time to fully commit to it. He released music unofficially under various names for decades before debuting as XOV at the age of 29 in 2015.
XOV made a strong debut in the music scene, performing at shows worldwide and culminating in a highly-acclaimed performance at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on New Year's Eve 2015/2016. However, he grew disillusioned with the superficial nature of the industry and decided to take a break from music in 2016 to focus on human rights work. He founded the grassroots organization I AM YOU, which grew into a global movement with hundreds of volunteers from over 30 countries providing relief and aid to thousands in makeshift refugee camps. XOV's humanitarian efforts were recognized by Stanford University, which invited him to speak on campus in 2017. Since then, he has founded and led several philanthropic initiatives, including serving as an advisor for Human Rights Watch and chairing the Creators Society, a council of creators in music, film, and fashion who use their platforms to advocate for human rights.
In 2018, XOV returned to music with the Nebula EP, an audiovisual project featuring striking visuals of human monuments and performers from the world-renowned dance and theatre company Troubleyn Jan Fabre in Antwerp, Belgium. The video was directed by XOV's long-time friend and mentor Phil Griffin, who has worked with Amy Winehouse, Prince, and Jay-Z. XOV is currently recording new music and can be followed on Instagram.
Non-musical art by XOV