This year, multi-instrumentalist and producer Xavier Dunn will release his debut EP, Isic Tutor. It’s a contemplative five-track release composed from synths, cello and cabbages.
But more on that later.
The son of music teacher parents, and brother to four working musicians, Dunn’s musical bloodline is strong. He grew up on piano lessons, string ensembles and family jams – with a soundtrack of Elton John, Billy Joel and Queen spinning in the background.
While studying music at university, Dunn began to flex his production skills and dip his toes into electronic sounds, developing his own music and ghost writing and mixing for various artists. And soon he’d become his own one-man production studio.
“I always loved composing for larger ensembles, but organising all the players and the recording space was really expensive,” explains Dunn. “I could play a lot of the instruments already, so I began recording everything myself. And then I introduced the organic electronic elements.”
It was later that Dunn found his singing voice. “I always thought you had to have a big, powerful voice to be a singer,” he says. “But then a friend gave me a copy of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, and I thought, ‘Oh yeah, he sings like me’.”
For the past four years, Dunn’s been producing music under his current ‘Xavier Dunn’ moniker.
He gained attention and momentum with BIMYOU, a covers EP that saw songs like A$AP Rocky’s ‘Fuckin’ Problems’ and Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ reborn in an angelic folk style. It gained more than 12 million streams, and got the music blog cogs well and truly turning.
Dunn has also flexed his songwriting skills in the co-write role, penning tunes for Jack River (‘Fools Gold’, co-write / produced); NGHTMRE & Carmada (‘Embrace’, co-write / vocals), Supercruel ‘(November ft. Lisa Mitchell’, co-write); and Nina Las Vegas (‘Deserts’, co-write).
His remixes of Feki, GRMM, Hitimpulse and Vijay and Sofia, and collaboration with Airling on original track ‘Give In’ continued his online rise, with three HypeMachine #1 positions, a Spotify Global Viral Charts #2 position, a Spotify US Viral Charts #1 position, and a Spotify Australian Viral Charts #1 position for three consecutive weeks.
Dunn’s Aussie support slots for GoldFrapp, BROODS, Airling and Gretta Ray got live audiences moving, and prepped them for some big headline shows to come in 2017 and beyond.
Now, the 27-year-old is gearing up to debut his new music on the Isic Tutor EP – a refined sound reminiscent of Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds and German composer Nils Fraham.
Experimenting with found sounds and digitising multiple instrumental lines, Dunn has landed on an intricate and infectious collection of songs.
The EP is bound by instrumentation rather than lyrical themes. “All the synth sounds are either from my Roland GAIA or the OP-1 by Teenage Engineering,” says Dunn. “And they’re paired with cello or guitar, which has created the universe for me.”
There are plenty of field recordings buried in the mixes, too. “I record rivers and waves on the OP-1 and then re-pitch them to be a chord or a lead,” explains Dunn. “I’ve recorded water pouring down the sink and ex-girlfriends cutting up cabbages. It’s completely unique and nobody else has an audio file like it.”
Made over a 12-month period, Isic Tutor is also laced with folk lyricism, catchy pop melodies and elegant arrangements. It’s ambient and expansive. Serene yet somber. And the lyrics and instrumentation are deeply personal.
Dunn has written every line, played every instrument, and recorded every cabbage on the EP.For tour dates and more visit: xavier-dunn.com/