When Seattle-based hip-hop artist Tilson XOXO answered the phone, he immediately asked me a question: “What’s your favorite word to say?” I’d never thought about this before. But since I make a living asking other people personal and at times jarring questions, I responded. “Spaghetti.” Tilson laughed and said, “Okay, okay! I got you. Good. This is going to be good!” From there we talked about his newest song, “Sing-A-Long,” an enriching track about one’s own inner dialogue, which we are proud to premiere here. We also talked about why he raps, how he got started and how he didn’t model his voice off of anyone in particular. Needless to say, it was a good one.
Is the same thing that inspired you to start rapping the same reason you keep doing it today?
It really is. It really is the exact same thing. A princess and a queen both smiled at me and it was like, “Oh, I’ll do this again.” Musically, it’s a combination of what’s inside my head and what it looks like and feels like out in the world.
Your voice is so strong and clear. Were there any voices you used to model your own after?
No, but that was the reason that it worked! So, I didn’t have to play with a lot of different tones. I do but I didn’t have to. That was the thing that was cool. It all just kind of clicked. That was the magic.
You’re one of the most positive and considerate people I’ve come across in the city. What motivates you to be so considerate?
There is no way I think I should be, one way or another other than the way I am. That’s how things make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to be any other way. I feel like it would be more effort to be inconsiderate, if I ever wanted to. Because I’m not thinking that way. I can be inconsiderate to myself but I don’t have to be that way to other people.
Is it important for your work to be empowering?
It is important for me to want people to be empowered. I want that for people. But I don’t expect my music to do that. But it’s something I want for people. I just don’t expect to be that catalyst. I don’t think I’m supposed to be the initiator. I feel like that’s the beautiful thing about taking inspiration from things in the world. I don’t want to outwardly expect people to be empowered because if somebody likes it for a very non-empowering reason, it would be silly of me to argue. I feel like people can cut it up and chop it up the way they want so they can chew it and swallow it. Everyone is going to digest it differently.
What have you learned about yourself as an artist over your career?
I haven’t learned anything! I guess that’s the cool thing about it. I feel and I listen and I do. I learn in my sleep. That’s what I’ve learned.
What inspired your new song, “Sing-A-Long”?
I guess we can consider it an ode. It’s an ode to just listening to yourself, to the dialogue and conversations and agreeing to listen to yourself. The mental picture of the song, to me, is like two giants deciding to make a paper airplane with normal sized paper. That’s really what my mind looks like. Even though it’s a very easy thing, it’s very complicated due to their size. It’s harder because it’s smaller and that’s sometimes the scenario: Like two giants making a paper airplane with normal sized paper, that’s the song to me. And the paper is just the internal part.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’m playing the Fisherman’s Village Festival on May 18th and I’m fine-tuning a collaboration with Café Vita, working on some cool stuff with them. I have a new Spedoo and matching pair of mood gloves I just ordered. I’ll be making more music. That’s pretty much what’s next.