Axian is a hard-working man.
From his small town of Odder, Denmark, the 23 year-old producer has quietly become one of the most widely recognized instrumental hip-hop artists in the online beat scene. He’s dropped over seventy songs, as well as two albums and several EP’s, and racked up millions of plays on streaming services in the process. And that’s not to mention his successful stints both as a music curator and as an A&R for Chillhop Records.
He also refuses to chase trends. Axian’s music bucks many of lo-fi hip-hop’s clichés: the overuse of the same few samples, the 45-second songs, and splicing of cartoon dialogue onto beats. His sound – while undeniably influenced by lo-fi – is built off denser, more melodic samples, punchier, more organic drums – as well as his own instrumentation. And it really stands out among the crowd. He wouldn’t draw attention to that fact himself though; in his words, “[his] work to support and grow the scene is what really matters most to [him]”.
NINETOFIVE caught up with Axian last week to talk about his origins in music and his latest projects. We’re also excited to premiere his latest track “dedication.” along with this interview. It’s the first of two interviews that we’ll be running with him over the next few months to accompany two of his new singles. Take a listen, read through, and get to know him.
Tell me about your latest track "dedication.".
It’s my first single of the year! It’s not part of any specific project, but I do have a project coming out in May with Inner Ocean Records. And my next single – "ur_mnd." – is coming next month along with the second part of this interview!
So how did you first get into producing hip-hop?
I’d wanted to start producing hip-hop for a while before I began, but I never really felt capable, so there was quite a barrier for me to get over at first. I was making different kinds of electronic music before that, but since I had no knowledge on producing hip-hop, it was really hard to get started. Then I met Apo, a lo-fi producer from my area. We’d never spoken to each other before I reached out to him to do a video for him, but then I saw that we had 80 friends in common on Facebook and it turned out we went to the same school! He showed me the basics, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
And Apo and I live in a small town – there’s only about ten thousand people in Odder – so it just goes to show how small the world can seem sometimes, and how common interests really can bond you with people you never thought you’d get in touch with.
What sorts of music did you listen to growing up?
Since I can remember, I was always surrounded by music. That was partly because of my biological dad, who passed away when I was 7 from alcoholism. He was really passionate about music – as a listener – and after he passed, listening to music became a way of staying connected to my memories of him and the songs we listened to together. That being said, it wasn’t till I was 15 that I got into listening to hip-hop. Some of my friends showed me the ‘90’s classics: Gang Starr, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, J Dilla, CL Smooth, DJ Krush, and so on. And it was love at first sight.
And you can definitely tell those artists have influenced the style of beats you make today.
Exactly! Those old school hip-hop songs were some of the most important influences on my sound, and that soulful, conscious sound is something that I want to help spread and carry on. It’s what I produce, it’s what I promote, and it’s what I love.
What’s your production setup like these days?
In terms of software, I always use Fruity Loops 11. I also use a MIDI keyboard and my Korg Minilogue in a lot of my songs, including all the ones from the Breakfast EP. And besides those, I’ve got all my samples.
And what’s the story behind the “Breakfast EP”?
Besides "dedication.", the Breakfast EP is my latest release! It’s a project I made with my girlfriend; she made the artwork, and I obviously made all the music. We saw it as a cool project to take on together that’d use both of our artistic skills – she’s a graphic designer. And it’s going to be the first in a series of releases! So in the future there will be a Lunch EP, a Midnight Snack EP, and so on! We’re also distributing it via Kush Gong Vinyl, who offered to press it on vinyl, but it’s already out online and you can listen to it now!