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Plugged In with DubXX: Cleveland Artist Making Waves

Rising out of Cleveland and the EST 19XX movement, the former Dub-O has now become DubXX, and has undergone a brand new style to go along with the new name. He still sticks to his Cleveland roots, but brings with him a newly evolved flow paired with steady vocals and lyricism. Dub’s recent release Tsunami, embodies this change, along with his ability to not only stand as an artist, but produce, and carry out artful songwriting. We got the chance to sit down with DubXX and talk his experience behind the scenes, his views on the industry, and more in our interview below!

So why don’t we start off with you telling me a bit about yourself. I’m sure you get asked a lot about the Cleveland scene, so how has coming from there shaped your sound?

I go by the name ‘DubXX’ formerly known as Dub-O. I’ve worked with Machine Gun Kelly since the beginning of his career and since we’ve been friends. We came up with the independent label EST 19XX and so we have that whole family going based out of Cleveland, and I’m out here in LA now doing the thug-thizzle.

Who are some artists that you grew up listening to?

You have to always say the regulars like Jay-Z, T.I., Biggs, Pac… but what really got me started wanting to do music was 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin. I listened to that very heavy, and then just some underground stuff as I was trying to catch up, but the person that really got me going outside of the regulars was Chamillionaire. He’s a southern lyricist, and I’m big on the vocals, and so just the way he sounds was different to me.

When did it click for you that you wanted to start making music?

It had to be me helping Machine Gun Kelly on his first album in 2012. We were in the house doing music beforehand like in 2009, but when it actually came time to put together an album, I found myself on a song with MGK and Bun B. I was helping with random stuff too, so probably somewhere in between that process and a week before going on my first tour, it just clicked for me.

It was really the fans that put me into this position because I was just a ‘behind-the-scenes’ guy.

Jumping off of that point, is there anyone you attribute most of your success/motivation to pursue music to?

Our circle and our squad; we all crutch for each other, push each other, and we all want to see each other do better. Of course you owe it to your mom, and family, but shit after all of this work, I owe it to myself too man. I look back at all of the sacrifices and having to set pride to the side, and I want to see it all work out for myself too.

But yeah I owe it to the squad, I’m sure we would all say the same thing. We all just want to see each other be great. Our fans constantly push us too, if it weren’t for them and music just being good for the soul period, we wouldn’t put it out.

So knowing where you are now, what would you tell yourself back in 2012?

Learn the business right. now. That’s the only downside of it – when I went into it, I expected everything. I expected snakes, I expected people dissing you and not knowing who you are, and I was cool with that. It comes with the fame or whatever, but besides that, please learn the business, whatever you do. Even if it’s just learning to get your royalties, getting paid for a song that’s out there, just focus on that.  

What would you say makes it difficult for people to succeed in this industry, and why?

Not having any direction or real people around you, or just going with the flow and not realizing a relationship goes a lot further than the current pay.

You really need direction and family/real-life loyalty out here because people will leave you out to dry. People don’t know not to trust certain people if they didn’t come in with them. You can come in this business with a person and still lose yourself to them due to the madness. People that are not strong-minded go down the easiest. It’s super hard to judge people out here, so you have to learn to expect the unexpected.

Do you have any words of advice for people trying to pursue a career in music?

Really know that it’s what you want to do. There are people out here that have been doing this for years and still go unnoticed because now-a-days you can get signed not based off of your talent, but because of who’s paying attention to you at the moment.

A ‘rapper’ can put out a funny song and blow up and not even mean to because that’s not his career. You can find yourself in a position and once again, get left out there to dry trying to figure out your next move after all of this hype and fame, and then start thinking “Well what am I gonna do next?”

Well what was your real passion? Because obviously that wasn’t it, it was an accident. A lot of people’s lives get ruined by accidents like that, so if you want to do music, just make sure that’s really what you want to do. It really takes blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of lonely nights of constant thinking.

Now on another note, you just dropped a new album, Tsunami, about a month ago. What did it take to put this album together?

A lot of the time I was by myself recording, I got to think a lot. Some songs could be up to a year old, others I could have recorded maybe two days before I turned all of the songs in [on top of narrowing down everything to 10 tracks]. I recorded everything in our home studio, picked out all of the production personally too.

Lot of melodies and a lot more vocals; on this project I knew I wasn’t making this for the fans or a certain crowd, but I was making it for me. I wanted to bring people some new waves, which is how I came up with the name Tsunami. I’m proud of Tsunami, and to link and do it with WAV as well, I think we got a doper outcome. They’ve been so supportive, and I think this is best project I’ve dropped thus far.

Now, you have released your album, what comes next for you?

Shows mainly, tours hopefully as well. I have a show in Ohio late this month in and our festival EST Fest coming up that we put together so we could do whatever we wanted. I’ll be performing in front of fans from all over the world, and we’re getting more sponsors, so ain’t no telling what’s gonna be there this year.

Other than that, I’ll just continue moving around in LA.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Make sure y’all go get that Tsunami on all platforms! Check out my YouTube and the videos for “Flex” and “On My Top.” Follow me on Instagram @DubXX and you can find everything else from there.

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