XXX is the the Korean hip hop duo turning heads with their aggressively raw and honest tracks, with riddling lyrics encapsulating a much bigger picture behind-the-scenes. The duo debuted not too long ago in June of 2016, but caught the eye of many even before then. FRNK, the master behind the beats for XXX, turned heads after producing the single ‘Sleep Tight’ for Korean hip hop artist E Sens, who went on to win Album of the Year at the 2016 Korean Music Awards. XXX rapper, Kim Ximya was the only artist to feature on that award winning album, ‘The Anecdote.’ Their style was coined in a prior interview as “dark hip-hop with a frenetic electro edge”. While the styling was a bit of a surprise for the artists to put into words, they seemed to agree that what they had was not your typical hip-hop sound. There is a certain bluntness to XXX that presents itself in a “Here I am, take it or leave it” fashion, it’s a straightforward and abrupt style that has new listeners intrigued and day one fans holding on for more. At the 7th annual KOCCA ‘Korea Spotlight‘ we had a chance to not only tune in for ourselves, but pick the artists brains on some of their own ideas about their music.
First off, congratulations on another successful SXSW showcase! This was my first time seeing your performance in person and watching it was a surreal experience. I feel like I was able to enjoy it more because I had spoken to you before and could see how much work you put into it.
XXX: Thank you.
What kind of experience did you have performing this year versus 2017?
FRNK: This year was much more comfortable because we’ve had previous experience in 2017. I was in a more comfortable state of mind.
Kim Ximya: Since I’ve been there once before, it was a more comfortable trip and mildly exciting performances.
You’ve said that the music stems from the chemistry you two have when creating, as a rapper and producer. Did you feel this kind of balanced bond when you met, and what steps did you take to create a single identity with this project?
Kim Ximya: XXX is a duo with one producer and one vocal. To present XXX as an individual identity, not a duo, we thought FRNK the producer taking the lead would do it. Since it’s the producer’s role to make the song from start to finish, the project seems like one person made it.
FRNK: I think the chemistry between us was great from the beginning.
How would you describe each other’s style? Most artists feel like they are pushing each other to keep improving. Is there something that each of you want the other to try doing?
Kim Ximya: We try not to fix anything the other team member does. We try our best to build up on it.
FRNK: Not really. Ximya is perfect.
If you had to introduce someone to your music, that had never heard it before, which track would you show them and why?
FRNK: [Flight Attendant] – it has some commercial aspects to it.
Kim Ximya: [18G 1517] – the song has all aspects of what we want to present to the listeners.
After speaking to you both this year, I was impressed by how much thought goes in to making your experience. More so than that, since most of “Language” and “Second Language” sheds more light on FRNKs’ producing, it really puts into perspective how well you two work together. I remember you saying that these tracks weren’t really discussed between you two as you prepared, do you think it’s better to have less communication and more faith when it comes to creating together?
Kim Ximya: Depends on who you’re working with. It doesn’t work all the time.
FRNK: Less communication works sometimes, but it’s important to have trust in the other person.
What are you currently focusing on in terms of music?
Kim Ximya: I’m working on my solo project.
FRNK: Working on my solo project. It’s kind of a love album that covers all aspects of love; Eros, Agape and platonic love among others.
When XXX finished their set at ‘Korea Spotlight‘ they expressed gratitude towards the audience but before exiting fully, FRNK noticed a fan with their album and signaled Kim Ximya over to her. To see these artists branch out towards their fans really makes one acknowledge the humbleness of an otherwise intimidating duo. XXX may present a real and intense message, but off stage they are just as gracious and charming towards those that helped them get to their platform.
We want to thank Beasts and Natives, XXX, KOCCA and SXSW for allowing us the opportunity to work with such talented artists this year in Austin and we wish XXX a fruitful 2019. You can see our recap for this years ‘Korea Spotlight’ here.
Interview conducted and written by: Allie Norado