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 had his breakthrough in 2015 after being handpicked by New Zealand-superstar Lorde to make music for the Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack, alongside artists like Kanye West, Grace Jones, and Ariana Grande. His debut single "Boys Don't Cry" had critics describe him as "the lovechild of James Blake and the Weeknd". Shortly after that, his hit "Lucifer" was released, climbing the charts in Europe and certifying Gold and Platinum in his native Sweden. His music has been streamed over 100 million times since.
XOV, real name Damian Homat Ardestani, came to Sweden as a refugee from Iran when he was one. He grew up in an immigrant-dominated suburb called Tensta, west of Stockholm, Sweden. His father, having difficulties coping with becoming a refugee, described the experience as becoming "nullified as a human being". In the years to come, his father developed a severe drug addiction that shattered the family unit and eventually came to take his life. Damian, or "Homat" as friends and family called him, started writing poetry to understand and process his inner emotions. His first poem was published age nine following a poetry competition in Enbacksskolan, Tensta. The poem was called "The Palm Tree" and was about a palm tree being uprooted and placed in a cold environment, leading to its leaves falling and being shattered across the earth, mirroring his family's experience - fleeing from the homeland with relatives ending up in different countries throughout Europe. Deep symbolical meanings that the author himself didn't consciously understand at the time of writing. The poem marked the beginning of XOVs deep journey into symbolic writing, that later evolved into rap, and eventually singing. Although music always was his first passion, it took a long time until he surrendered to his art. After decades of releasing music unofficially under various names, he debuted as XOV at age 29 in 2015.
XOV hit the music scene like a bomb. After an intensive debut year with shows worldwide ending with a spectacular performance in front of millions at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate stage on NYE 15/16, XOV grew increasingly tired of the music industry's superficial nature. In 2016, he took a break from his music career to focus on his work with human rights, founding the grassroots organization I AM YOU while volunteering in what the BBC calls the "worst refugee camp in the world". The organization has since grown to a global grassroots movement with hundreds of volunteers from over 30 countries that have provided relief and humanitarian aid to thousands in makeshift refugee camps. In 2017, XOV's humanitarian work gained the recognition of Stanford University that invited him to speak at the campus.
XOV returned to music in 2018 with the Nebula EP, an audiovisual body of work with striking visuals of human monuments featuring 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 (Amy Winehouse, Prince, Jay-Z). In 2019, XOV began serving as an advisor for Human Rights Watch, combining his music career with various social projects throughout the world.
XOV is currently recording new music. Follow his journey on Instagram.
Non-musical art by XOV