“My music definitely is weird, that being bad or good is up to the listener.”
After an incredibly successful year of headline shows, big brand collaborations and an EP release, we caught up with Dublin musician and producer Why-Axis. There are no signs of slowing down before the year’s end for Why-Axis.
With his last EP ‘Bad Reception’ he showcased a unique blend of experimental, genre mixing, fused with solid production and lyrics about girls, flying and cigarettes. Why-Axis seems to be on a trajectory of astronomical proportions.
The artist has shared the studio and the stage with the likes of Nonzus Magnus, HAII and Jessy Rose, but on October 19 he’ll take to the The Sound House for a solo headline show.
What does ‘Why-Axis’ mean and why did you choose that moniker?
Why-Axis is me! Everything about it represents me. I first came up with the name when I was still in school, I think it was about third year. I was going through the regular teenage mood swings and questioning of life, as you do, and while this was going on I also happened to be studying about the X axis and Y axis. I hated it – I just couldn’t understand it much. The only part I did understand was that an axis is basically a point where I’m looking at something from a different perspective. After realising that I began to think about it more, probably while daydreaming in class – I did that a lot.
In the end I came up with the philosophy to always look at any situation from a ‘why-axis’; if there’s a situation that affects me in a certain way I need to remember to look at it from a different perspective and then ask, ‘Why is it like that?’. I use this to keep my head clear most of the time.
What vibe do you aim to achieve at your gigs?
God, the vibe that I go for is just to have smiling people, that’s honestly my goal for the end of the night. If everybody has a great time then I know I’m doing something right. I have a lot of chilled out songs, but I have a lot of hyped music also that I love performing. We recently played the beautiful KnockanStockan and the crowd was sick, but damn I have to say we went so beyond hyped that we were literally pouring sweat by the end of it, so if you’re ready for that, then come see us live!
What are your plans after The Sound House show? Will you be releasing more music this year?
My plan is definitely to prepare and go bigger for the next one. I’ve spoken about doing a tour which I really want to get going with, so I think that’s another step I’ll be taking very soon. I have a ridiculous amount of music waiting to be released, so I’d say you can expect a lot more coming from me before 2019. Most of my summer was spent playing gigs and shooting videos, so I warn you, be prepared!
You’ve described your music as ‘weird’. Do you see that as positive attribute, as something that attracts people?
My music definitely is weird, that being bad or good is up to the listener. Everybody is weird. We all have our own little things we know we do that most people don’t; most people like to hide that though, and try to blend in with the rest because it’s the normal thing to do and they don’t want to be judged. I don’t care though. If you can’t be happy with yourself how will you be happy with anybody else? Most of my listeners are all pretty damn open and accept most people for who they are. I feel that’s another reason they listen to me, thankfully.
Are you excited to release into a musical climate where hip hop is encompassing a range of different genres?
Yes, I gotta say music is in a beautiful place right now. I genuinely feel like there aren’t many limitations to it. We will always have a ‘popping sound’ which changes over time but that’s natural. It’s this unique creativity though that people are finding between it that’s the most unique in my opinion; producers and musicians are always finding new ways to manipulate sound and create something completely new, which I love. It’s the more abstract and unusual music that these certain artists make that inspires me, rather than what I would hear coming from the more mainstream, ‘in-fashion’ music.
As a model, you’ve recently collaborated with Dunnes Stores and Puma. Is there a relationship between your style and your music?
I express myself in as many ways as possible, be it fashion, music or art so when I collaborated with Puma and Dunnes Stores I definitely felt a relationship between modelling for them and making music for myself. I’m lucky to be a musician as well as a model, because it was the music that both Dunnes Stores and Puma wanted to have for their campaigns which made me feel much more a part of both projects. It was insane to have my music played in their commercials because that is something I’ve dreamt of as a child… It’s just something that really has given me a lot more drive to go harder, because you never know what opportunities are around the corner.
What are your major creative influences?
Creatively, I’m constantly inspired by new surroundings or exploring. In terms of music I listen to a lot of abstract sounds and quite a lot of jazz. Old or modern, I love it. Art is something that definitely inspires me because I love drawing, I think I’ve loved drawing before I knew what music actually was so when I see any kind of art I end up falling in love with it most of the time. Fashion is something I’ve loved for a very long time, but only within the last five years have I really felt free to express myself through that medium.
Do you have any specific creative processes for writing and producing?
I try to keep my creative process as open as possible and try to do different things but I always start with the chords then the melody. While this is happening I start the sound design process and mix up something unusual. You can be sure to hear me humming melodies in my head for a potential chorus while all this is going on too. After I’ve added some basic drums I quickly create the layout of the track so I can see the structure. Once I have that I come up with a concept in my head for the song, this is usually pretty simple to find based on the emotions of the chords.
I’ll begin to write and record at the same time until I have everything layered and down. I rarely have prewritten verses. When I’m making a song I usually write everything in the moment while the instrumental is still fresh. After I have what I like to call a raw track I begin the really fun work and my favourite part of the process – the editing. This is what I feel really makes me who I am musically… I can do so much and the possibilities are literally endless.
If you are familiar with my music you’ll begin to hear all of the tiny tweaks and changes throughout my songs that can easily go unnoticed if you’ve just heard the tracks once.
What’s been the highlight of your year to date?
This year I’ve had so many different highlights, it’s difficult to pinpoint. Doing my headline gig in May and selling it out was a huge achievement for me. I really couldn’t of done it without my friends and everyone who helped with it. Sometimes I don’t even think about achievements, because I become so focused on the next thing.
Honestly though, playing Knockanstockan this year was a true highlight as that was the first ever festival I had attended in my life so it was great to have them reach out to me now and ask me to play. I’ve made so many different memories and I’ve met so many cool people this year which is really what it’s all about.
Why Axis plays a headline show at The Sound House on October 12.