Drawing from her diverse cultural background, Swedish-Ecuadorian singer-songwriter XATIVA weaves together influences from classical music, jazz, and folk to create a rich tapestry of warm, intimate sounds. A classically trained singer, the London-based artist spent time in Madrid to write her debut EP, If I Am Falling; a hypnotic, heartfelt collection of songs laced around gentle, high-pitched melodies and soft, hazy guitars. Though it also takes inspiration from contemporary songwriters, her music takes me back to the idiosyncratic folk of Sibylle Baier, bristling with the kind of melodic sentimentality and sun-kissed nostalgia that makes the most universal experiences feel entirely new. Melancholic yet comforting in its sweetness, the four-track EP is a tender exploration of love and heartbreak that has us more than excited for wherever XATIVA decides to take her sound next.
We caught up with XATIVA for this edition of our Artist Spotlight series, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to talk about their music.
What inspired you to start making music?
I started studying music when I was a child and started writing and composing in my teens. I don’t think there was a specific point in time when I was inspired to start, it was more just something that I naturally and instinctively began to do.
What are some of your influences?
My main influences come from classical, jazz, and Latin music although I also listen to a lot of contemporary R&B, folk and electronic music. I think my international background has to some extent shaped my music as well. I grew up in London with an Ecuadorian mum and a Swedish dad so I was always immersed in an environment where different languages were spoken and various cultural attitudes and practices existed. I never felt confined to just one of these cultural or national identities and I think that that can largely be felt through my music as well.
What was the inspiration behind your debut EP?
I started writing the music for the EP when I was living in Madrid a couple of years ago. I was writing a lot during that period to cope with a difficult life experience and I think the EP evolved from a desire and a necessity to express the painful feelings that I had and to try to turn them into something beautiful that could resonate with people. At that time, I also started learning and studying guitar with traditional flamenco musicians. Apart from being inspired by the incredibly complicated harmonies, techniques and musical structures that they taught me and that I’m still struggling to get to grips with, I was also taken by the integrity of their emotional self-expression through music. Flamenco music, and these musicians, gave me the courage to try to articulate how I truly feel about something without being self-conscious or ashamed about it. My EP was then born out of a desire to communicate my own feelings and experiences in this new way that I learnt whilst I was in Spain.
How was the process of writing and recording it?
I wrote the first song from the record ‘Think of Me Softly’ whilst I was living in Madrid but I wrote the three other songs later when I was back in the UK. It took a while for the EP to take shape because it’s a mix of my older and newer songs, but at a certain point, I put the four songs together and they seemed to work as a cohesive project. I then went to Stockholm to record with Robin Carlheim at Woodhill Studios and he helped to bring the EP to life.
What’s your favourite song from the record, and why?
I think the title track ‘If I Am Falling’ is definitely my favourite because it captures the underlying message of the whole EP: ‘If I am falling, let me fall to you’.
What are your future plans?
At the moment I’m working on my next solo project but I’m also looking forward to beginning new collaborations with artists from different backgrounds and disciplines.