Your music is a combination of different styles electronic, R&B, trap and pop. How do you manage to fuse all four and make it sound so perfect?
From a production standpoint I love sound design and synthesis, so the electronic components just kinda come together naturally. A lot of today’s “pop” music is essentially trap, so I like to incorporate this type of production, but execute it very differently. I love to take weird foley sounds and turn them into instruments. I’m constantly trying to design sounds that are nothing like I’ve ever heard before. I never make a song with just a couple of tracks. I’d say I usually end up having around 100+ instrument tracks and 20+ vocal tracks. I use lots of layers and intersperse unique parts that may only happen once during the song. When it comes to songwriting, I’m very inspired by ’00’s super pop. Big hooks and very melodic; it almost has a science to it. It’s a predictable format, but you have to twist it into something as unpredictable as possible to make it stand out. I get so inspired by all different types of records, from R&B to future bass, soul to electro-pop. I usually just lay down some tracks or a melody that I vibe with and the rest just flows out from having constantly studied the format and processes of my favorite records.
It must of felt great to have the single “One Sided Love” reach #37 on the Billboard-BDS Mainstream Top 40 Indicator chart and #2 on the Mediabase Top 40 Indie Label Report?
YES, it was absolutely insane!! I originally wrote/recorded that song when I was in high school almost like a pop power-ballad. Eventually after moving to the city and honing down my sound and brand, I added some more electronic elements and trap sounds that really brought the track to life. That song has always been super special to me so it’s an incredible feeling watching it impact other people.
How did you link up with the K-Pop group TWICE to release the track “Young & Wild”?
It is a very funny story! During my senior year of high school, I was producing some demos for Kim Petras. We linked through a producer I was working with at the time. I loved her style and her insane toplines. One of the songs I ended up producing the track for was “Young & Wild”, which was originally called “Young & Spoiled”. I finished the track and kinda forgot about it. About two and a half years later, I was told that Twice wanted to cut the song. I was pretty excited, but you never really know if it’s really going to happen until it happens. Lots of things almost happen and then fall through at the last minute, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. A couple weeks later Twice tweeted the track list for their new EP “YES or YES” and “Young & Wild” was on it!! I was SO ECSTATIC (even though their label spelled my name wrong on the credits HAHAHAHA). They spelled it “MXK” which was pretty unfortunate, but hey at least it’s right on Wikipedia!
You have played at many venues. Is there one that stands out most to you?
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about when I performed at the Whiskey a Go Go when I was 8 years old. Fast forward to 2019, I just got booked as the headliner for November 3rd! It’s a full circle moment, and I’m very interested to see how accurate my decade-old memories are of the venue.
So far you have released 5 singles are you planning to put out an album or EP?
Eventually I’d like to put out an album, but I want to wait until I can make it a fully executed artistic vision. I’m hoping to make enough buzz with these singles to get attention from a label that would potentially give me the backing I’d need to create something next-level. If I were to do an album it wouldn’t just be a group of songs, it would be a fully realised body of work with visuals, show concepts, fashion, and technology that would go hand and hand with the album.
Did you receive formal musical training or are you a pure natural?
I would say it is a little bit of both. I started taking guitar lessons when I was 6, and my guitar teacher immediately noticed that I had perfect pitch. I didn’t really know what that meant, but my ear has trained me as a musician and a producer. Knowing how to play the guitar only, I felt really trapped. I had all of these fully realised productions in my head and I wasn’t able to make them come to life with just a guitar. Eventually I took up some piano lessons but hit the same roadblock. I loved to write/record songs into Garageband ever since I was in 3rd grade, so when I found out music production was an actual thing I immediately fell in love. I had a couple of people share some tips with me, and I took an online Berklee class in Logic Pro when I was going into my sophomore year of high school. From then on, I just practiced and practiced. Making song after song, mix after mix. My ear taught me a LOT about mixing since I’ve always been studying the mixes of my favorite records since I was little. The big turning point was actually sitting down and learning the terminology so I could execute the ideas that were trapped in my head.
Is MkX the abbreviation of your real name? If not, how did you come up with that stage name?
Kind of! The “M” and the “k” stand for my full name (Michael Kouroubacalis), and the “X” stands for confidence and self-expression through art. When I was younger I was very worried about what other people thought of me, and I eventually felt like my individuality disappeared. I came up with this persona “MkX”, who was basically everything I strived to be. An ultra-futuristic, almost “superhero” like persona that dressed over the top, made insane electro-pop music, and was unapologetically himself. After a lot of work and many steps outside of my comfort zone, I eventually became that persona I wanted to be. Also when I was in middle school, people used to call me “M.K.” which I hated, so people just called me “M.K.” even more. The name MkX kinda pokes fun at that a little bit, because now I have my “X”. I have that unapologetic confidence to express myself to the fullest, and I don’t care what anyone has to say about it.
What are you currently working on to close out 2019?
I’m about to drop the video for my latest single “right place, at the right time”!! I had such a specific vision for this video, and the directors Andy Koeger and Henry Drayton did a fantastic job bringing it to life. You can find the video on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/rx8nRor2bJY
On the music side, I recently had a bunch of dope sessions with some really talented writers and we wrote 6 new songs. We essentially just recorded one-take vocals with a couple instruments, so I absolutely can’t wait to finish up the demos!! I can’t wait to see what the end of 2019 has in store!
Follow MkX online at: