Get to know one of the most exciting new duos to emerge from South East London’s underground scene.
Introducing 13XL, the genre-bending duo making intelligent pop with vulnerable vocal melodies, emo guitar chords and lavish trap beats. Formed by Scott Bowley and Xena Hussain, the group’s multicultural fusion constantly pushes musical styles to their extremes and offers a poignant mirror to a divided nation with their unique sound.
On one of their first releases, Show You The Whole World And Show You How It Spins, features Xena whisper an intense warning using her mother’s Kashmiri mountain dialect. “It loosely translates,” she says in an interview with Clash magazine, “into ‘anyone who inflicts any damage or oppression on me, if you won’t leave me alone, I won’t leave you alone’ – it sounds a lot more threatening in the original form! I’m very used to people around me having the threat of deportation hanging over them, there’s raids all the time in our community in Birmingham.”
From performing their debut show at Milan Fashion Week to playing at an underground basement party in South London a matter of days later (all without an official release under their belt), it’s been clear from the start 13XL are due to be the next big things.
In the weeks following the recent drop of their track Love & Guap, the pair chatted to HUNGER about their musical influences, what’s next and how £10 won’t get you anywhere in London…
Describe your music in 3 words…
S: Future Emo Melancholia.
X: Could be worse.
Who’s your greatest influence?
S: That’s so hard. Maybe Josh Homme.
X: The guy who chucked a shoe at George Bush’s head.
What does music mean to you?
S: Define music…?
X: For me it’s the ultimate rebellion, I wasn’t even allowed to listen to music growing up. It’s cool learning stuff from scratch as an adult.
Who’s the last person you called?
X: My mum.
What did you talk about?
S: Our upcoming collaboration with Michèle Lamy (!).
X: I found out she calls sparkling water ‘fizzy drink’.
One item of clothing you couldn’t live without?
S: Does a rucksack count as an item of clothing? I’ve still got the same old Puma rucksack I’ve had from the age of 7. It’s been everywhere from regular trips to my local corner shop (big up Gellatly’s) right through to tours of USA & Japan.
X: I could live without any particular piece of clothing, but my jewellery stays on permanently. I can’t afford to lose it, so I keep it close, and I mostly wear pieces I’m sentimentally attached to. Also, I feel if I ever end up in a life or death poker game situation it’d be cool to slide a ring across the table or something (I don’t really know how poker works).
One album you couldn’t live without?
S: Dummy by Portishead. It’s one of those albums I discovered a long time after it had come out so it wasn’t related to the trend of the time or any advertising or anything like that. It’s just great music, produced in a really interesting way, haunting vocals, spine tingling synths and I probably haven’t gone more than a couple of weeks without listening to at least one track off it since 2009.
I constantly get hooked on albums it feels like I’d never be able to live without at the time but most of them wear off after a while. Like at the moment it’s pretty much just Rosalía – El Mal Querer on repeat. Ask me again in 2029 if Rosalía’s reached Portishead status.
X: I don’t really listen to music by the album. I listen to 3 songs on repeat for about a month and then re-up the rotation once I hear them in my sleep. At the moment, I can’t stop listening to Útrás by GKR ft Lord Pusswhip & Dadykewl (shouts out Lord Pusswhip also, the boy is a genius), Pony by DaBaby, and Nameless by Lil Keed. Who knows what next month will bring.
What’s your favourite way to spend £10?
S: According to my Monzo account, it’s one day of Oyster card travel in London.
X: I like taking out a tenner, buying a small carton of Rubicon, and losing the rest while I run for the bus
How about £100?
S: 10 days of unlimited travel on the London underground please. Always wanted to go to Cockfosters.
X: Man, I just love spending it on bills. Nothing beats central heating.
What’s next for you?
S: The 13XL debut EP is pretty much ready to go so looking forward to getting that out and then touring it.
X: I’ve just achieved my lifelong goal of learning to whistle with my fingers, so I’m just chilling for now.
13 August 2019