I sat with XVNDER BLANK at a faded diner in North Jersey. Upon meeting him, you can notice there’s something peculiar. Not off or odd, but a uniqueness a lot of people try to mimic. Perhaps it lingers in his attire, the way he prepares his words or processes emotions and his knack for turning even the darkest moments into blessings. Or maybe it’s the calm in his voice that grounds anyone in his vicinity, but he is set apart. He is sure of his character and who he wants to be/is becoming.
Steven Alexander Uribe is a musician, who is very particular about which candles are worthy to be lit. The ones that have an organic essence are usually the best picks. He considers his sound to be dark trap, a subgenre of rap, but hates to limit himself to just one thing, as there are so many different melodies to explore. The first part of his name, XVNDER, simply comes from his middle name- Alexander. BLANK, on the other hand, comes from his conviction that life is a blank slate. We all come with a general outline for growing up, but we get to fill in all the empty spots with whatever we please. We create our own realities.
Growing up in Bayonne, NJ, he felt like an outsider, which pushed him to start building something outside of his reality. His father, who is also a musician, played a great deal of funk music and would put VHS tapes of music tutorials on the TV for him to watch. The more Steven listened and paid attention to rhythm, the more he caught on and could parrot as a kid. This helped him in the future in creating his own sound. Influenced by underground artists like Scarlxrd, KAMAARA, and Night Lovell, he appreciates more experimental sounds, rather than over-saturated music.
He usually keeps an eye on the beats his favorite producers publish and when he finds one that invokes some sort of feeling, he’ll sit down and let it flow through onto the page. Everything should feel and sound together as one. “Like if a beat was a house and you needed furniture to match- that’s what the words are.” When he feels like it’s not really going in the right direction, he’ll argue with himself to make things less serious because, he says, he sounds like a crazy person. Conversing with himself helps him figure out whatever was out of place and accept that nothing can be 100% perfect. When it is, you stop progressing and that takes away the biggest motivator to keep going. And the times he finally creates something good enough to his standards, there is such a sense of relief.
Creation is not only a mode of release, but also how he discovers the light and shares it with others. It filters emotions and then further shows people there’s someone out there who’s been in the same spot. There are so many things he’s never vocalized to anyone, so with being so transparent, comes the obstacle of being vulnerable in the spotlight. It’s all a direct view of who he is.