Peter Xan: Unleashing a Revolution in Underground Rock Music, One Melody at a Time

by Barbara

Step into Peter Xan’s creative realm, and you’ll be immersed in a world that pulsates with a symphony of artistic elements. Navigating through the captivating decor that adorns his east London studio, one can’t help but be entranced by the harmonious chaos of this creative haven. As Xan warmly welcomes NME into his sanctuary, his eyes light up, recounting the transformation of these four walls into a vibrant hub for himself and his artistic companions. “I’ve truly infused my essence into this space,” he declares, likening it to a pair of well-worn Doc Martens. The journey has been one of breaking barriers, pushing limits, and allowing creativity to bloom.

Amidst the array of wall ornaments, nestled across from a collection of Platinum awards honoring Rudimental, a sketch of an elephant gracefully balancing three animals captivates the gaze. Guitars stand in an orderly display, and a beckoning lucky cat perches atop the monitors. However, it’s the colossal numbered stamp of Major Tom, culled from David Bowie’s legacy, that beckons Xan’s attention. With a gleam in his eye, he directs NME’s gaze to this emblem, revealing the synchronicity that surrounds him. “This studio is known as number 13, and my birth date is on the 13th. It’s as if the universe has aligned to confirm my presence here,” he shares, his voice tinged with cosmic resonance. “Whenever I’m uncertain, I look around and there’s the number 13, a guidepost steering me in the right direction.”

Whether rooted in superstition or cosmic connection, this open-hearted approach mirrors Xan’s musical endeavors. Currently poised to unveil his forthcoming EP ‘God Save The King’ (scheduled for release on October 5), Xan’s musical canvas is a kaleidoscope of hues, blending the richness of summer-infused rock with a soulful vocal narrative. The sonic tapestry is further adorned by the mastery of Dan Carey from Speedy Wunderground and the vocal prowess of Grian Chatten from Fontaines D.C. The amalgamation is a tribute to Xan’s east London upbringing, where the melodic notes of hip-hop, soul, and African rhythms fused with the emerging allure of indie-rock.

As a youth, Peter Xan’s auditory awakening was sparked by his grandmother’s gift of James Brown records. Amidst these soulful melodies, the resonance of a guitar’s chord struck a chord within him. Yet, it was the virtual realm of FIFA, a game that extends its influence beyond the screen, that truly unfurled the musical horizons for him. Recalling those formative moments, Xan reflects, “The gateway for me to bands like Franz Ferdinand and Gorillaz was through FIFA. It catalyzed a seismic shift in my musical trajectory.” The resonance between virtual soundtracks and musical discovery was undeniable, opening the floodgates to the realm of guitar-infused melodies.

In Xan’s musical metamorphosis, these foundational elements began to intertwine. “The cadence of traditional African music may appear incongruent with the ethos of rock,” he muses. “Yet, within the realm of hip-hop, there is a burgeoning desire to embrace the essence of a rockstar.” Xan stands as a testament to this evolution, where artistic boundaries are blurred and genres are transcended. The musical landscape of 2023 is a canvas where artists like Xan pave new trails, creating intricate fusions that defy categorization. East London luminary Deijuvhs, for instance, weaves nu-metal nuances into atmospheric trap beats, while boundary-defying US rappers such as Teezo Touchdown challenge convention with fearless audacity.

Venturing to the heart of Ghana to film the music video for his recent single ‘Pressure,’ Xan’s encounter with unbridled energy became a defining moment. The soundwaves of Dan Carey’s mix resonated through the air, and Xan found himself amidst a throng of fervent admirers. As Xan describes, “The scene in Ghana was electric. People danced atop cars, a cloud of dust enveloping the scene. If I spent more time there, I might have been crowned a Chief or something! The potential for this energy to manifest into something extraordinary is palpable.” Xan’s dreams extend beyond musical realms; he envisions a festival in West Africa, an offering that would satiate the continent’s appetite for rock music.

In the process of discovering his sonic identity, Xan navigated through conflicting advice that occasionally clouded his artistic vision. “The more I journeyed, the more I realized that many of my initial inklings were spot-on,” he shares with NME. His role transcends the realm of mere numerical accolades; it is about disruption, challenging the status quo, and forging an indelible imprint on the world, even if the message initially remains enigmatic.

Embracing a rebellious ethos, Xan found kindred spirits in the likes of Damon Albarn, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Nolan. These iconic figures, accompanied by neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, became his guiding lights during his pursuit of an Art A-Level. He reminisces, “In the realm of academic art, the onus is on justifying your creative endeavors. However, artists like Basquiat shattered conventions. I remember walking into class and discussing how Basquiat, in an academic sense, defied every norm. I hold immense admiration for those who champion their unyielding vision, and this spirit fuels my journey.”

It was this very spirit that resonated with Dan Carey. Leaning back, Xan takes a contemplative breath, signaling the commencement of a captivating narrative. Invited to Speedy Wunderground’s south London studio by Carey, a twist of fate led to Xan crossing paths with Grian Chatten, who was concluding work on his debut album, ‘Chaos For The Fly.’ A week later, with the promise of “something unconventional,” Xan delivered ‘Pressure’ into the capable hands of Carey. When Xan found himself in Los Angeles, his path crossed with Chatten’s once again, and Carey facilitated their convergence. Xan narrates the unfolding of events, “Upon discovering that Grian was in LA, I called Dan, who promptly shared his contact. I reached out to him, and within no time, we were collaborating. It’s as simple as that.”

The studio is an arena devoid of hierarchies, where Xan’s conviction radiates. “As an artist, you must embody this mindset. Everyone is equal,” he asserts, reflecting on his collaboration with Chatten. “The stature doesn’t matter; we are all human. We all breathe, eat, and experience life’s vulnerabilities.”

Through soaring anthems like ‘Hostage,’ Xan is emancipating himself from the shadows of doubt that occasionally obscure artistic visions. The lyrics encapsulate a fearless spirit, resonating with a new generation of African rockstars. “My aim is to become a voice for the outsiders, those who exist beyond the confines of societal norms. I want them to feel welcome at my shows,” he concludes. This, undoubtedly, is the legacy he aspires to leave behind.

Peter Xan’s latest single ‘Hostage’ is now available, and the ‘God Save The King’ EP is set for release on October 5. On the day of release, Xan will perform at Brixton’s The Windmill, unleashing his sonic revolution upon the world.

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