Listen to this track by Las Vegas-based songwriting and all-around performer Xoch (pronounced “Zoach” and meaning goddess of flower and song, derived from Mayan and Aztec culture). It’s “The End of the World” as taken from her most recent record Hollywood.
In many ways, hearing Xoch’s music undercuts a lot of assumptions after you’ve seen her step out on stage, or seen her in pictures. She’s done some modelling. She’s also an actor, having appeared in films, TV shows, and commercials. These other interests might make one think that music is just another pursuit for her. But, she’s not just a pretty face.
“The End of the World” hits the power-pop and folk-pop songwriting sweet spot that goes beyond her years. Clearly, Xoch has been paying attention, and honing her craft accordingly.
I talked to Xoch via email about stage names, Sin City, varied pursuits and multi-disciplined artistic expression, and about avoiding stagnation by challenging one’s own routines.
The Delete Bin: One of the things about this song that I love is that it is full of aural sunshine, but it’s also full of inner turmoil too, it seems to me. Also, it shifts from the universal to the personal without a seam. How does this type contrast work in your mind with this song, and when you begin the business of writing and arranging other songs?
Xoch: This song to me is about one door closing and another one opening. It is about giving up the life I knew for a new beginning. The end of something is often difficult but it always leads to a new journey or destination beyond your wildest imagination. I think the process of song writing always begins from the artist’s personal perspective but then there is a transformation that creatively takes place which makes it become universal.
To me, there is no set formula for writing. It depends on the song and each one is distinct. I try to keep the song lyrics open for interpretation because I like when others can find their own meaning and relate it to their own life. It makes it uniquely personal for the listener.
DB: “I don’t care that it’s old, it’s my latest new thing” is an interesting line in the song, because I think that’s true of how a lot of people approach finding music today. It’s new because it’s new to them. How does this trend open up the possibilities for you as a songwriter?
X: I agree with that. Something old can be something new to the next generation. The lyric is really about finding inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose from wherever you can. For me, it was about rediscovering and reconnecting my love of music and performing by going back to the songs of long ago and incorporating some of them into my repertoire. I have been doing this for half my life and at times it can lose its luster. You can easily burn out and in order to keep going, you must constantly find new ways to express yourself.
DB: The list of influences you’ve cited elsewhere varies from June Carter to Marilyn Manson. What is the core quality to these people and their work that finds its way into your creative brain for your own work?
X: I like artists who are true to themselves, who create art for artist’s sake and who are bold artistically. I am drawn to artists who evolve and progress with each release because it is important to not remain creatively stagnant and to have a sense of growth.
DB: You chose your own name attached to your role as a musician, as a lot of performers have done under their own circumstances. Yours is the result of a transformative trip to Mexico. What function does it serve you personally now, professionally speaking, and in terms of your own identity beyond your work?
X: The name XOCH has transformed me on many levels and brought me closer to my authentic self. It is a part of me in the sense that it is both my musical identity but it also transcends into my actuality and encompasses all aspects of my life. I like to think of it a more enhanced me or my alter-ego. My sacred space. A “Super Me” if you will. It is fascinating to me that as human beings, we are able to go beyond mere humanity and accomplish remarkable things. We have so much potential for greatness if we allow ourselves to do so.
DB: Music is your calling, yet you’re also an actor in films and TV, and you’ve modeled as well. How do those other pursuits play into your role as a musician and stage performer?
X: Music has always been the forefront of my career but it is good to venture out and take risks. I would say both acting and modeling have been a lot of fun for me. It allows me to show a different side of myself and continues to allow me to challenge myself creatively. I think every experience in a person’s life can have a profound impact on who they are and what they bring to the table. I think as a performer, it is my duty to portray an array of emotions no matter what art form I’m doing at the moment.
DB: Some of your songs have been picked up on TV soundtracks, which for many independent artist is something of a holy grail. How did that come about for you?
X: I’m not just an artist, I’m a “smartist.” It came about by believing in myself, working hard and never giving up. I am constantly on the hunt looking for opportunities to get my music out there in one way or another. Licensing has been tremendous for me and I am pleased that there are people and companies out there who like what I do.
In today’s musical landscape, you not only have to be good at music, you also have to be good at business too which can be boring for many creative types. I enjoy both aspects because ultimately no one is going to care about your career more than you. I follow my head and my heart with every decision I make. If something doesn’t feel right to me instinctively, I don’t do it.
DB: You’re based in Las Vegas, which is kind of a showbiz town for most people who don’t live there. How much of an impediment, or advantage, is there to putting yourself across as an artist based there?
X: I don’t see it as a impediment or an advantage. I would say that Las Vegas has this sort of glamorized, exciting image to people who don’t live here everyday but to me a city is a city. It has its ups and downs. This is one of the hardest cities hit by the recession and it has been a struggle for many hard working people here.
I am appreciative that I am able to perform live music several days a week in this town, and that people from all over the world are still coming here and enjoying my music. I would say in some ways it is easier being a musician here because it is a smaller market and there are so many events are going on here at any given time. Being from NY originally, it is especially tough for artists (there) because it is such a large market. But I’m proud to come from a place with such history. Between both NY and Las Vegas, I have played some of the most renowned venues and amazing stages and I can safely say I have seen everything. Nothing really fazes me.
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