Denver native Randy Washington (PXLMAN) is returning to his hometown for a slew of shows this weekend. Now residing in Los Angeles we had a chance to chat about moving out there as well as what he has in store for his hometown shows in Ft. Collins and Denver. PXLMAN is currently on a mini tour that will take him from San Diego to Las Vegas.
U5280: You have a couple shows in Colorado coming up, where are you playing?
PXLMAN: I will be playing in Fort Collins on Friday at The Artery, then back here Sunday at Larimer Lounge.
U5280: Tell me about PXLMAN?
PXLMAN: So PXLMAN is kinda like....I keep calling it a solo project because I keep attaching myself to Total Ghost. It's a platform that I use to tell a lot of the real stories about my life that I can't really tell through my own personality. I tell like very sad and very straight forward stories.
U5280: How did this come about? I know you were doing Total Ghost and you have dabbled with other projects in the past, whats different?
PXLMAN: PXLMAN came out of when I quit my job at Apple (most recently). I felt like I needed to perform out of a laptop and alone, this was in 2013. I wrote an EP called "Slow Down", which were very personal songs. I shelved it and put all my energy into Total Ghost and brought it back to life in 2015.
U5280: How is production for PXLMAN different from Total Ghost?
PXLMAN: Uh...Total Ghost was a funny process, I would write the song, and present the rough structure of the song to The Nix Brothers. They would then polish the edges and we would perform it. PXLMAN is this strange place of unchecked, I just write a song and nobody says do this differently.
U5280: What or which artist influences the sound of PXLMAN?
PXLMAN: Tons...TuneYards, I think Merrill has an amazing way of speaking about suicide and growth. Janell Monae, she has this thing with her voice in which she can bounce like three octaves. I even do a cover of Madonna's "Hollywood" in which I start really low and i end crazy high. Nine Inch Nails, Kraftwerk, they are great because they are the kings of not having to change anything. They just layer stuff on top of each other and it sounds great.
U5280: What do your sets look like on this tour?
PXLMAN: They are video tracks, playing everything through VLC. I run my computer through a board, I project on to myself on stage. All the videos are synched up.
U5280: What are your thoughts on labels, for example, Chance The Rapper and what he is doing in the industry today?
PXLMAN: My thoughts are this, when we started Total Ghost we printed all our own CD's by ourself. I'm not big on conventional avenues, i don't follow modern music super well, i don't know what I'm supposed to do. Last night in San Diego, all i know is I hit play and I had the whole place dancing. I don't know, I don't think its super necessary, if a label finds me on my journey, they can sign me, I'm not going to pursue or change and alter what I'm doing.
U5280: Does signing to a label alter your sound or creativity?
PXLMAN: If you chase the label..yes.
U5280: What's next for PXLMAN?
PXLMAN: I'm trying to go in to 2017 releasing myself from an attachment to album. I want to do tours out of LA. I'm trying to partner myself with Mitch Pond, (Man Manthis). We just played in San Diego. Breaking into LA is impossible, me and Man Manthis played last night, we are talking into putting together a West Coast tour. I want to keep hitting these cities over and over. i hope I can continue to do live shows, until somebody says lets make a record. Then we can start implementing a live band and other elements.
U5280: What do you miss about Denver? Since you've been gone I am starting to see a rise in a genre I never thought would be making waves like it is now..R&B.
PXLMAN: Yes..I have been seeing this from the outside kids like Sur Ellz, Kid Astronaut, are making amazing stuff. I would love to see them get out of Denver a bit more. A major reason why I had to leave is ..I know who I am as an artist, getting to LA has shed light into what I am doing.
U5280: Would you ever be open to collaborate with these artist?
PXLMAN: Absolutely, my vocals tend to mesh with anything. My creativity is a little different in the way I approach it. I go into a room, turn off all the lights, turn off my cell phone, throw on a hoodie, and i will just keep hitting notes until it sounds good. I have one track now where it's kind of R&B'ish/gospel like, It took me three weeks to finish. People like Shockness, Church have this talent in which they walk up to an instrument and just start making magic. I can't jam...they can jam. I can NBA Jam!
U5280: In 2016 we lost a lot of artist and creatives, when it comes to PXLMAN I see a lot of Bowie and Prince influences.
PXLMAN: I feel like Prince made it ok for black boys to be weird and be sexy. Bowie made it ok for everybody to be weird. It doesn't have to be, they build stuff for a specific person, they made music that people could consume.
U5280: Now that you have lived in Texas and California, let's be honest In and Out or Whataburger?
PXLMAN: Whataburger without a doubt!