Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, XOV is a European artist and music producer known for his signature dark-pop sound, blending elements of modern hip-hop/rnb (Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, Majid Jordan) with 80’s lyrical melodies and synthesizers (Sting, Depeche Mode, Sade). XOV gained international recognition in 2015 following his collaboration with Lorde on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Soundtrack, which featured XOV alongside Kanye West, Grace Jones, and Major Lazer, amongst others. His work spans from fine arts and fashion to performance and installation art with his music at the very heart of it all. The first single off his new NEBULA EP, "ATARAX", is a poetic feel-good banger about dealing with anxiety.
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The clash of two worlds. An internal battle between two very different and extremely opposite lives – but both united in one persona. These are the words XOV uses to describe the process of his second studio album. The 32-year-old artist first hit the international pop scene with his EP “Lucifer” in 2015, which was followed by highly anticipated debut long player “Wild” later that same year. “Wild” was a mysterious ride into his thoughts and experiences from his turbulent past, covered in a dark pop sound with an 80ies-synth-touch meeting modern R'n'B and atmospheric hip hop. But after that release almost three years had to go by until the Swedish musician with Persian roots would reclaim his balance in life. A balance between the superficiality of the pop world he had just entered as an artist and the cruel realness he had experienced working as a social entrepreneur in humanitarian aid in Greece. At the end of this collision and the search for compatibility stands his new music, which is shaped by what he lived through in these crazy two and a half years.
Flashback to 2015: Just a few months after the release of “Wild”, Damian and his longtime friend Rebecca Reshdouni founded their own humanitarian aid organization “I AM YOU”. As Damian himself once came to Sweden as a refugee from Iran, he felt the need to give something back and not look away while one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes was taking place in Europe. At the same time, the artist XOV had just become a big name within the pop music world. Superstars such as Max Martin and Lorde were huge admirers and supporters of his work, resulting in a unique artist feature on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack and a record-breaking live performance at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on NYE15/16, to a crowd of over a million!
XOV and his symbolic dark pop became known all over the place – and that’s the moment he decided to get involved in the refugee crisis. So he left his base in Stockholm to travel to Greece and what he witnessed there would change his life forever. “People were in real pain there”, the singer and rapper explain his experiences in the refugee camps. “One day there felt like ten years in normal life. You see death, hope, and joy. You laugh, you cry, and it all happens in such a short amount of time. But the situation somehow appealed to me, it made me feel alive.”
It also made XOV question what was real in his life and what was an illusion. It was the start of an internal revolution where he warred with himself and wanted to destroy everything that was fake around him. But it also tremendously inspired his new music. “I never stopped writing music because music has always been something personal to me”, tells XOV. He just needed to find a way to combine all the intense emotions and challenging experiences with music.
So he started to record his new songs in those parts of Greece, where he had witnessed the darkest despair and greatest hope in one place. But also in Stockholm, on a small island in the Baltic Sea, in LA, New York, and Berlin. “It’s an album about what has helped me to overcome my internal battles and what inspired me the most while being on this journey”, says XOV. Or shall we say: “A Swedish superstar in the making”, as the critics wrote about him after his first EP came out. Stardom isn’t what fuels his music, though. “The purpose of what I’m doing as an artist is to inspire others and to express my truth”, XOV says about his always autobiographically intended songs.
His self-produced new work still resembles this modern mixture between 80ies-synth-pop with rap and R'n'B influences, which he established on his first records. But compared to “Wild”, it all sounds a bit more up-tempo this time, and the use of symbolism has gotten a lot stronger.
His first release "ATARAX" is a poetic banger about anxiety and finding one's way through the "jungle of existence". The song will be followed by more singles leading up to the release of NEBULA, a mini-album, in the fall of 2018.