by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Xuzz

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Xuzz

Alexander Grant performs music as Xuzz. His new single Mississippi can provide the right alt-pop vibes for any happy moment that requires a quick boogie, and NZ On Air Music added the song to their NewTracks compilation this March.

What’s your name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Kia ora, I’m Alexander Grant! I’m a singer/songwriter. I play guitar too, but not in an overly sophisticated way. I was born in Invercargill, raised in Dunedin, and now live in Auckland.

Was any high school or other music training especially important?

Throughout high school I was taught classical singing and was involved in lots of singing competitions. I was also in the Otago Boys’ High School choir every year, I loved it. But, I think what really made me love choral music was my time in the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir. This classical/choral background definitely shaped how I write and think about my own music today. I love me a good harmony.

Any other projects that we might know you from?

I was a founding member of the band Frank On Tap. I was the frontman/songwriter from 2021 to mid 2022 (I co-wrote their first three singles; Wire Talk, Our Own Way, and Night After Night). Absolutely loved being a part of the band. Love those legends.

How did you come up with the name Xuzz for your solo project?

Well, my name has virtually always been Xuzz. When I was born, my older brother Eddie (1 year, 11 months, 4 days older) couldn’t say Alexander (my real name) correctly. So, instead of Alexander he managed to mutter ‘Xuzzie’, which turned into ‘Xuzz’. Since then, very nearly everyone has called me Xuzz. So when it came to choosing an artist name I didn’t have to search very hard!

How has your writing evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I began songwriting on various type beats on Youtube in 2017 (haha), which was actually a lot of fun. After that, my friend Robbie Baxter from Dunedin would send me his beats/instrumentals and I’d have a play on them. I loved this because each instrumental was so different, it meant I could experiment with a wide range of styles, voices, sounds, lyrics, and themes. I then started writing with other people, like the boys in Frank On Tap at uni, and now a couple different producers. I like writing with a couple of different people because it means I can keep learning from them and continue to develop different sounds.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

I haven’t done a Xuzz gig yet. But I can’t wait to crack into it this year. So, probably the most fun I’ve had with music was a gig I did with Frank On Tap at Meow in Wellington. The crowd brought a lot of energy and we certainly matched it. Great night!

What makes Mississippi stand out for you as a single choice?

Mississippi has a lot of attitude and playful energy. The rolling bass and mischievous lyrics make me want to run. Anywhere. It stands out because I think it energises whoever’s listening to it.

What is the story behind Mississippi?

It’s a song about letting go and letting your love flow freely and strongly for whoever and whatever. It’s about not overthinking decisions and trusting your gut in a new relationship. Mississippi, the American river, is a fitting metaphor for this. It flows… big time.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

The final chorus, for sure. Love the energy.

Who did you record/produce the single with?

Came up with the idea in a band practice with the Frank On Tap boys in 2022. Max laid down the beauty of a bass line and since I was listening to a lot of Elvis at the time, my subconscious was filled with southern USA references, so the first words that came out were “Mississippi, Caroline” in a kind of southern drawl. These words and playful tone kind of informed the rest of the song. I finished writing it in my own time and then sat on it for a couple of years, until I brought it to Josh Strand (unreal producer and dude) at the end of last year. He saw my vision for it, and we brought it to life.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Going with the flow is a powerful thing.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

You can’t really know. You just have to go with what you like and connect with.

Is there anyone else in your team?

My legend of a manager, Archie Hamilton. Top man.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m planning on releasing six6 singles this year. So, keep eyes and ears peeled.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Frank On Tap: By Your River
  • Daily J: Left Me Like Summer
  • Summer Thieves: Saturday Night

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

‘History of Rock Music in 500 Songs’ by Andrew Hickey is completely unmatched. Check it out music enjoyers.

Any last words?

Thanks so much for having me NZ Musician! Good fun!