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SXVXNT’s Sound Is Always Moving Forward

Written by on August 23, 2022

Pictured above: Sxvxnt, courtesy of the artist, by Zach Pollak/Pollak Visual.

“The song is literally wedding vows in rap form. The first verse was written at the request of my sister for her wedding. The second was written when I fell in love. The hook was spawned when both relationships failed.”

– Sxvxnt on “The Vow”

Formerly Chicago, now Charleston-based artist SXVXNT brings his poignant single “The Vow” to Vocalo’s rotation.

Courtesy Sxvxnt, by Elizabeth Lakes.

Rapper, singer and producer SXVXNT, pronounced “Savant,” is always pushing himself and his art with every release. Armed with a diverse palette of hard hitting beats and ever changing flows, the artist constantly reveals new sides of his craft to listeners. The classic boom-bap style SXVXNT often employs is given a new twist via his intricate lyricism and the modern lens he puts on subjects like love and honesty.

SXVXNT’s latest single, “The Vow,” hit streaming services everywhere on July 1, and was featured on Vocalo’s on-air rotation the month of its release. The song explores two different relationships, SXVXNT’s sister’s engagement and one of his own relationships. The artist says the lyrics are literally “wedding vows in rap form,” but, as SXVXNT explains, the relationships may not have had such happy endings.

We reached out to SXVXNT to chat about about his upcoming mixtapes, his music imprint Sound Of Cannae and the strategies he uses to approach songwriting.

Where are you from, and where are you based now?

I’m originally from the West Side of Chicago, K-Town adjacent. Currently splitting time between LA and Charleston, South Carolina.

Your music features rapping, singing and instrumentation all from you. Which of those elements do you typically start with when writing a song?

Honestly, I’ve started from all four elements on different occasions. The starting point for “The Vow,” however, was the verses. From there, I pin-pointed a fitting instrumental, courtesy of Dibbz Dreek. The singing and auxiliary instrumentation were added last.

Courtesy Sxvxnt, by Zach Pollak/Pollak Visual.

When you craft lyrics, do you have a specific method or approach to writing you like to use? How did you develop this skill?

When freeform writing, which is what “The Vow” originally was, I don’t have a specific method or approach beyond the resolve to never use the same cadence, style or swing for longer than four to six bars at a time. This was mostly developed from obsessively listening to and imitating the lead vocalists on Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides, The RootsThings Fall Apart, NasIllmatic and Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP albums.

Your single “The Vow” was featured on Vocalo’s on-air rotation for July. Tell us a little bit about the song, how it came to be and what it means to you?

For starters, thank you so much for selecting my song for Vocalo radio play! That was definitely a 2022 highlight and something of a watershed moment for my team and me. Regarding its background story, the song is literally wedding vows in rap form. The first verse was written at the request of my sister for her wedding. The second was written when I fell in love. The hook was spawned when both relationships failed.

One thing we noticed on your Instagram is your captions are always in both French and English. Do you speak French, and, if so, where/when did you learn?

I can read and write with what I think LinkedIn labels “Minimum Professional Proficiency,” and I can speak with “Limited Working Proficiency”… I’m super rusty. It’s been an ongoing process that started in high school and reached something of a tipping point when I spent some time in Montréal. Portions of my post captions are in French to connect with the few Montréal-based IG followers I picked up during my time there.

Courtesy Sxvxnt, by Zach Pollak/Pollak Visual.

Where does the name “Sxvxnt” come from?

It was originally “Savant.” Over the years, it’s had a number of different iterations, but ultimately I landed on the double “X” spelling because there’s a brilliant Norwegian electronic musician who’s already forged an illustrious career and catalogue under the proper spelling of the moniker.

What is “Sound of Cannae”? Who’s in it with you?

Sound Of Cannae is my music imprint that I launched in 2018 with a friend from college and a former coworker. Officially, I’m currently its only artist, but we have an affiliate — Dana Shanti, Berlin-based singer, songwriter and musician — and several other artists who are currently in line to release some singles and B-sides via the imprint.

We saw your post with the pants your mother made and thought they were amazing. Does she have her own clothing business, or were those just for you?

Those amazing pants were made just for me, but I’ve been in her ear about expanding her client base. When she goes public with her creations, Vocalo will absolutely be one of the first places I contact.

What do you try to express with your fashion and the clothes you wear?

Honestly… nothing in particular. I just wear clothing that I think is dope and that I think looks good on me. This year, I’ve tried to make it a point to incorporate more clothing from indie artists into my wardrobe — shouts to Abby [Bryant] & the Echoes, Indi’Gxld, Slim S.O.U.L, Saint Joan and Mike L!ve for helping out — but beyond that, I can’t say that my clothing selections convey any grand message or theme.

What are some things you hope to accomplish before the end of 2022?

Top priority is the release of two mixtapes: Initial Entry and Absent Without Leave. Also on the docket: closing the year by sharing the Royal American stage with my Charleston DJ Moe Beans, Abby [Bryant] & The Echoes, Makeda Iroquois and Sam Rae.

Keep up with Sxvxnt on Twitter and Instagram, and stream all of our “In Rotation” picks below.

Interview by George Chiligiris

Edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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