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<3 weeks ago>

Laurie Charlesworth

Q&A

In Conversation With pyxis

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In Conversation With pyxis

Entrepreneurial with others at the core of her mission, pyxis is back with yet another stunning example of togetherness, this time with her debut album HEAD2HEAD.

Released as part of her HEADSBASS series, a compilation series launched in response to World Mental Health Day back in 2019, the album sees pyxis teaming up with an incredible line-up of producers to deliver us 12 tracks of gorgeous, feel-good D&B.

The HEADSBASS compilation series showcases top-tier drum & bass from nearly 150 artists, whilst simultaneously raising money for small, grassroots charities that are in desperate need of funds. The project is community-driven in every way possible, and in challenging times, an opportunity for artists to be a part of something bigger than the music itself.

From raising her six kids to bringing new artists into her ever-growing D&B circle, there is no ego nor hidden agenda with pyxis, only the desire to flex her creativity, bring people together and help others grow. Both HEAD2HEAD and HEADSBASS encapsulate this ethos entirely.

We jumped into a conversation with pyxis to get the low down on LP and her plans for the future of HEADSBASS.

It’s great to see so much new music from you recently. How’s it all going?

Things are going really well. Everything I’m putting out at the minute was recorded and then finished ages ago. I had a really quiet year in the studio last year, HEAD2HEAD was going on in the background and I personally didn’t make much music but somehow the release schedule last year was just flying! But that’s music isn’t it, it takes about a year to get everything out there. There’s loads coming out from me right now, something out in two weeks, something out in 6 weeks, it’s crazy.

Your debut album just came out too, which is super exciting. Talk to me about HEAD2HEAD.

I had so much music sitting around and woke up one day and thought ‘I’ve got an idea!’. A lot of people ask me to collaborate because they know I just love to collaborate with people. I really enjoy it. So, I went through all my sketches, bunged them all in a folder and reached out to everyone on HEADSBASS and said ‘If anyone wants to take anything on, be my guest, because otherwise I’ll throw it away’. And that’s how it came about. I don’t know if I’d ever have the incentive to make a full solo album because I just don’t get the time. It would take me about 10 years!

You are incredibly busy, to say the least. What exactly is it that you love about collabing with other artists?

It’s breathing new life into something. You can’t finish every tune you start, and you probably don’t need to, you’d have too much music and nowhere to put it all! There are so many times where I just think: I’ve got something here and I know that it can be finished, but I can’t finish it. I’m a great song starter and absolutely rubbish at finishing stuff! It’s funny because quite a few people that I collab with say they’d love to collaborate so long as they finish the track, which is perfect. I think many hands make light work. I’m so used to delegating in every aspect of my life from being a mum to 6 to owning businesses with business partners. It has shown me that it works. Divide and conquer. If I don’t like the tune I’ll say we’re not there yet or I’m not feeling it, but I’m quite happy to hand over the reins. I love working with newcomers too. A lot of people are precious about that, saying things like ‘Their numbers aren’t high enough for me’. I’ve worked in music for such a long time, I’m not about that. I released IYRE’s first-ever tune, so just because someone is a newcomer doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not going to blow up. I love being part of people’s journeys. Also, my social life isn’t too good. I have terrible anxiety around people in person so this is my way of connecting with people. These are my friendships.

Everything you do radiates community and family. You’ve created something really special with HEADSBASS. 

There is definitely a family vibe between us all. People talk about D&B family but then you sort of think, but you’re not really. Not in the true sense of the word. There are quite a lot of cliques and no way in for a lot of people so I’m purposefully an open house. As long as you have your heart in what you’re doing and the track you send me sounds good, I’ll take it on. I generally don’t reject anything. Music is so subjective. Just because other labels have said it’s not for them that doesn’t mean it can’t be on HEADSBASS. It’s all for charity. A great example would be this really weird track that came to HEADSBASS not too long ago. For me, I thought it was the weirdest track we had, I took it on anyway knowing someone out there would like it, and then someone played it on BBC Radio 1. I thought, of all of the tracks on the album, that was the one that I’d least expected. You just never know. I just whack it all out there because there’s something for everyone.

What originally sparked the concept?

On the Mental Health Day just before the pandemic in October 2019, so many people were posting on social media about the struggles they’ve had with their mental health. It was rife. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial so I thought I’d do something in response to what I saw. I thought about doing a VA and then by the time I’d got all the music together it was released in 2020, when the world was in lockdown, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It sort of looked like I’d done it for that reason but I hadn’t. The album was so well received that we had actually had too much music! I thought, I don’t have space on Volume 1, let’s do a Volume 2, and that’s how it went. Everyone just loved the concept. Then all of a sudden there was a Volume 3, now we’ve just finished Volume 13 with Volume 14 incoming in Autumn which is already full of great tracks. 

Let’s talk about all of the amazing charities that you’ve raised money for… 

Across all of the HEADSBASS albums we’ve raised money for 25 different charities! We’re 12 and a half albums in and we’ve raised around £12,500, which is completely mad. It’s incredible. I just literally scour the internet picking charities based on mental health. I’ve only just donated to MIND for the first time since we started 4 years ago because my aim is to support smaller, grassroots charities that really, really need the money. £200 to MIND might not go very far but £200 to another charity can do wonders. One charity that we sent money to bought a whole load of new chairs for their community meetings! The chairs they had previously were so old they were squeaking, it was distracting people. We just select charities and causes at random. I’ve sent money to charities that have therapy dogs, respite caregivers, lonely elderly charities, abused men, homeless people. I’m actually starting to run out of ideas now!

Props to you and the HEADSBASS family, that’s amazing. Why is it important for you to use the money made from music to help charitable causes?

My mental health is ok now but I do have this crippling anxiety that I have never been able to get over. Obviously I have my own personal reasons in terms of anxiety, but it was really from watching so many creatives suffer from a whole host of things. Imposter syndrome, the rejection, comparing themselves to others. That’s only a tiny part of it. Then when people came out of lockdown with so much anxiety, trying to reintegrate themselves into the world. The loneliness. The people that were lost. It’s sort of like, it’s a lonely world and even though we have a community, if you take away the layers, it’s not what it seems to be. That’s what drives me. Artists saying ‘I love this, I want to be a part of it’. They know they’ll probably do at best a few thousand streams because we’re not Shogun, we’re not The North Quarter, but somehow it’s a thing that people want to be a part of. It’s helping artists feel valued and worth something. That’s why I bring newcomers into the fold. It gives music a positive spin and encourages people to crack on and not give up. 

Looking back, has the project lived up to your expectations in terms of the concept and the support you’ve received from the scene?

It really has. I am blown away by people’s response to it. It was just a little idea, I didn’t think it would go very far. Without the supporters and the listeners but really and truly, the producers giving me their music, we couldn’t have raised all that money for charity. I want to say thank you to all of them. The fact that they won’t make any money out of it, speaks volumes. We’ve had 150+ producers and MCs give away their music for free. I’m always telling people thank you but I really am so grateful for everyone’s involvement so far. It’s been incredible.

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