by Ethan Duran
Nov. 11, 2022
1:00 p.m.
‘XYXYX’ by violethead
Bedroom pop artist violethead released “XYXYX,” a mix of synthpop and ambient electronic music in mid-October. Ellen Kimberly, who started composing under the name in 2019, shed some light on her solo project, her venture into electronic music and what she wants to do next.
The three-song project mixes hyperpop, bedroom pop and ambient sounds with murky and glittering sounds paired with auto tuned and sometimes glitchy vocals. XYXYX delves into Kimberly’s inner thoughts and produces a different version of herself, switching between anxiety and self-confidence. The mix of glitz and darkness aligns the project with characteristics of the burgeoning hyperpop genre.
Kimberly said she listened to a lot of post-rock in 2021 but found new influences in the electronic space after being fatigued from a deluge of guitar-driven music. She said making music driven by influences from house, techno and dance music has been a freeing experience.
“I listened to a lot of guitar music last year, generally with more rock instrumentation but edging towards post rock sensibility of using guitars as an instrument,” Kimberly said. “I got to a point at the end of last year where, ‘I’m kind of tired of this.’ So I set my 2022 to be a guitar-free music year, but not necessarily avoiding it.
“With that has come an incredibly deep exploration of club music, house, techno, dance, hyperpop, internet pop,” she added. She said she wears her influences on her sleeve in her music and said, “It’s fruitful because it’s coming from me.”
Photo: violethead – Bandcamp
Ellen Kimberly
Kimberly’s previous project, “ultra,” was entirely instrumental exploring different textures in electronica. “XYXYX” is the first time we hear her character Violet, who is more self-assured than the artist and pronounced in other ways. Violet has breathy drops, an autotune voice and occasionally glitches in and out of reality. “She’s got perfect pitch,” she added.
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“Ultimately, Violet’s sluttier, more self-confident, more emo and sure of herself. It’s fun to put that on a little bit,” she added.
By creating her music through a digital program, Kimberly also gets the liberty of bending the tone and pitch of her voice at will, just like every other sound in the three-song recording. “My voice and my words are an instrument just as much as anything else, and it should be as processed as synthetic to match my instrumentals.”
It’s not clear yet if Violet will make an appearance in front of a live audience. Kimberly said she’s thought about it, but says she feels more comfortable being behind the scenes and will have to fill her catalog before playing a full set. Before embarking on violethead, she played many shows as bassist for the indie pop band Dogbad.
After seeing a show in Chicago, Kimberly said she wants to collaborate with similar artists and let her own music grow organically. She’s also remixing a track for pop artists Skymall and Cyrus Chrome, who released their six-track EP “Just You Wait” last month.
Listen to violethead’s latest project “XYXYX” on her Bandcamp page.
Nov. 11, 2022
1:00 p.m.
The Music section is sponsored by Radio Milwaukee. Through music and stories created for a culturally open-minded community, Radio Milwaukee is a catalyst for creating a better, more inclusive and engaged Milwaukee.
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