After spending nearly 7 years away from the recording studio, XO Chicago returns to her roots to drop her first studio EP Living Through My Trauma. In collaboration with music producer and recording engineer, Ron the Producer, XO has embarked in unknown territory and opens up a glimpse of her past and present through melodic R&B beats and 808 undertones. “Music has always been such an integral part of me as a human. Meeting Ron, there was never a thought that we would complete a full EP, let alone a single track. As soon as we met there was this immediate understanding and free spirit that connected us to work in an open space. I’ve never felt so comfortable in the studio and that is special to me,” explained XO. “This project is special to me.”
And special it is. This 7 track EP brings out a sound that has never been heard by XO. The emotion and rawness that is overheard throughout the compilation is exactly what the doctor ordered, according to the artist. “I never realized how much of my past had been lingering within me, it felt more like therapy than work. I needed to release that energy somehow and thank God it brought me back to my first love, music.” Unknown to many, XO comes from a classical background, studying piano through the Suzuki Music Program for most of her early years. “It was important to me that the music could be translated to a live band easily, I needed this to sound as organic as possible,” she explained. “This one is personal and I wanted to showcase my roots throughout the EP.”
XO Chicago (pronounced So Chicago) has made quite a name for herself within the Chicago underground music scene, spending 5 seasons as a host on Urban Grind TV and Urban Broadcast Media, with interviews under her belt including Lupe Fiasco, Kirko Bangz, Lil Bibby, and Taj Gibson. Making it a priority to give back to her city, she’s also partnered with multiple charities throughout Chicago and placed an immense amount of time into the development of the next generation of artists with her program Future Artists Coming Together (F.A.C.T.).
Although her time in the studio has been limited, XO has dedicated her time more recently to performing live. Since 2019 XO has lead local cover band Shake Rattle & Roll, dabbing in popular tunes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s originally performed by musical legends such as Ike & Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and Etta James. “Working with Shake, Rattle and Roll has allowed me to remember how much the stage truly drives my creativity. There’s absolutely nothing I love more than working with seasoned professionals who genuinely just love to rock. There is no better feeling than rocking the stage with a live band,” says XO, who is also adding an acoustic duet to her repertoire with keyboardist Paul E. Keys naming themselves Afternoon Delight. “I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself into an artist that is only known for my recordings. My business in this industry is driven by my live performances and I needed options for those who want a full band experience or a quiet cocktail hour serenade,” says the performer. “I’m really ready to make some noise.”
Following the drop of the first single, Solo, Living Through My Trauma exhibits the potential to raise awareness against the stigmas and opinions that have been plastered around the potential of Chicago’s South Side, humanizing those who have been caught up in the street lifestyle and worked hard to not be a statistic. If this is the start of a solid relationship between Ron the Producer and XO, we can only imagine the impact this will have on the future generations of artists coming out of Chicago and inner-city musicians around the world just trying to make a way. Living Through My Trauma drops January 4, 2022.