Vexo is an emerging independent recording artist who made his wide-distribution solo debut in 2023 with the single “Moonbeams”. That song introduced a multi-talented beatmaker and sample-based producer with unique style and technique. At a time when other artists are content to download premade loops, he’s going old-school.
Digging down deep in the record bins, the avid sampler finds inspiration for his genre-fluid mix of modern and classic hip-hop, EDM, and trip-hop. In addition to his solo work, the prolific producer has created countless beats for rappers and singers around the world. In anticipation of his forthcoming debut LP, Vexo has dropped a series of original music videos on his YouTube channel.
“Checkmate” is a brand new single and video from Vexo, released worldwide via his YouTube channel. Japanese mandolins and movie samples ride a laid-back boom-bap beat on this chilled Wu-Tang style groove. The track pairs a 90’s hip-hop aesthetic with a classic kung-fu vibe, and a touch of spaghetti western.
Check out “Checkmate” below. You can also hear “Moonbeams” on the Deep Dive : Hip-hop and R&B playlist, or listen on your favorite streaming service. We had the chance to chat with Vexo about his new music. Read his answers to our 8 questions below. Follow the links at the end of this article to connect with Vexo.
8 Questions with Vexo
Where are you from?
I am originally from Romania, but I moved to the United States after finishing highschool. I went to college and got a job in the states, but music has always been my passion and I spend most of my free time on it.
How long have you been making music?
I have been making music for more than 15 years. I mainly create hip hop, but I occasionally dabble in other genres. A close second would be house music. More recently, I became a lot more sample-based as a producer and have been trying to incorporate as much of the art of sampling as possible into my craft. Sometimes I go to record shops to get my material.
Who are the musicians involved in your project?
I mostly work alone. I have some friends that I sometimes collaborate with, but the things I release are predominantly produced by myself in their entirety.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I have so many influences to name them all. My go to is usually The Avalanches, who are known for being masters of sampling. Some of their records have tens, if not hundreds, of samples, which really showcases how much of an art sampling is. When it comes to hip hop, I am often inspired by Dilla, Madlib, 9th Wonder, DJ Premier and many, many others.
What is your greatest non-musical influence?
I get inspired by the people around me, whether they are family or friends. I am also inspired by people who I consider the very best at what they do, such as Lionel Messi when it comes to football or Harry Mack when it comes to freestyling.
What inspired you to create this project?
I participate in many beatmaking challenges where communities come together and create something. This track is a product of one of those challenges, which I was fortunate enough to win. The Japanese mandolins have inspired me to create something reminiscent of old school Wu Tang style boom bap, which I am a big fan of. Once I chopped up the sample, I watched clips of several old Kung Fu movies to extract some dialogue and turn the beat into a story.
What are your plans for the future (musically)?
I plan to release an album and possibly an EP in the next couple of months. The EP will contain ‘Checkmate’ and other similarly themed tracks that use Asian instruments and samples from Asian cinema. The album is something that I’ve dreamed about for a long time and will be a bucket list item for me. Without spoiling too much of it away, the theme for the album will be space related. I am in the process of finishing 10-12 tracks and having all the samples cleared, which will mostly be through Tracklib.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I am just grateful for the opportunity to do what I love. I work full time for a software company, but I still manage to allocate plenty of time to music making. My goal is to have as many people as possible listen to my music. The challenge has really been uploading my music and promoting it to enough listeners. The people that do listen to my music often come to me with requests and will ask me to sample a specific song for them. I also own a Discord server for beatmakers, where I host challenges and try to keep my community engaged and hungry to find samples and “cook” something special.