JBL Emerging Interview: Xana Reflects On New Single ‘Bad Bandit’

In this Emerging Headliner interview powered by JBL, Canadian pop powerhouse Xana reflects on the creation of her latest single Bad Bandit, her approach to songwriting, and the powerful emotive themes that she encompasses in her music.

Xana’s command of pop music keeps her songwriting enthralling, as her blissful vocals glide across the most intimate storytelling and worldbuilding. She encompasses themes of LGBTQ romance, female empowerment, sex positivity, self-reflection, and discovery across her flourishing repertoire.

Garnering support from several Spotify editorial playlists like New Music Friday Canada, The Locker, Fresh Finds Pop, Ready to Rock and Limelight to name a few, her music video for Kitchen Light has surpassed one million views on Youtube, while her total streams have surpassed 20 million on Spotify alone.

Following the success of her debut album, Xana is back with her new single Bad Bandit. Since connecting with producers Liam Moes and Shane Stephenson at the beginning of 2020, her musical endeavours have taken off. Finding inspiration in various different styles of music, Xana’s experimentalism thrives, as she dips her toes into whatever she’s connecting with at that moment.

Welcome to Headliner Radio, Xana! What have you been up to so far this week?

I’m currently at my place in Vancouver, right now literally just sitting on my bedroom floor! And this week has been really fun. I just started the recording process for my second album, which is very exciting, and I’ve also been on the island for a little bit visiting my family and my friends. So it's been a good week, but we're back to work now!

Did you always know that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I think it was the first thing I ever knew about myself. Avril Lavigne was like my favourite human in the world when I was a little kid, and I just wanted to be her so bad. I also grew up in a pretty musical household; my parents always valued music and arts and creativity, and so I started violin lessons when I was five and singing lessons when I was 10. I danced and did all sorts of art classes and everything, so it was always a very creative home, and I always knew that music was what I wanted to do long term.

Who do you consider to be your main musical influences?

I grew up listening to Taylor Swift and probably fell in love with songwriting through her first, but I was also a huge pop music kid, so I was into Fergie and The Pussycat Dolls and all of those. My dad listened to a lot of ‘80s and ‘90s rock and grunge music – so Goo Goo Dolls, AC/DC, The Killers – and we also love country, so I was really listening to everything. In my later teen years and adulthood I’ve been a huge Halsey and Lennon Stella fan.

Tell us about Bad Bandit – what is it about, what inspired it, and how did it come together from a creative perspective?

Because my first album was pretty emotional, I just wanted to make something really fun, and not super serious for my next track. I came up with the melody first, which to me sounded fun and quite playful. Then we made the beat, and the first lyric I wrote was, Like Clyde and Bonnie / I want you on my body, so we went with this little Western vibe which I thought was catchy.

Then I made up this character in my head of this girl who is kind of like a Western Harley Quinn – like clinically insane but a total hopeless romantic who loves love and everything, but the minute anybody hurts her she just has no other choice but to kill them. So I just started making this whole story in my head about her and her whole life and her relationship with her dad and her first husband, and now she's met this girl who's just like her who is also a bandit and a criminal and she thinks that this is her soulmate. But then that girl also lies to her, so now she's got to kill her as well [laughs]. I feel like in my life, if somebody hurts me, I'm pretty quick to shut them out really, really abruptly, which can be a good thing but can also be a bad thing. I feel like this was just a fun way of exaggerating that in an extreme way.

And what about your songwriting process?

With some songs, I'll start with a little melody or something that I think just sounds really cool and I’ll run with it. Other times it’s just a concept, but usually, I'll come up with lyrics and melody, and kind of build the whole song around that. I’ll then bring that to my producers and we'll continue from there. It all depends on the song though really; Bad Bandit was one that just happened in the moment all at once.

Tell us about some of the themes that you touch on in your songs.

I just want people to be connected with their emotions, whether that is feeling their sadness or heartbreak, or feeling super confident and empowered, and like they're on top of the world. I just want to make people feel things; I think that's the most important thing you can do for people with your music. And so I would always describe my music as emotional, because no matter what the theme is – whether it’s queer relationships, or taking back your power after being in an abusive situation – it's always just trying to make people feel seen, and like they belong somewhere.

What's the biggest bit of advice you'd give to any emerging artists like yourself looking to break into the industry?

Be as authentic and as true to yourself as you can, and that will come across in your art. Play the game, but don't let the game play you. Use the tools that are out there, like TikTok and all that stuff, but try not to let it take over, because it can be very easy to let that get in the way of your creative process. As long as you're loving what you're doing, then you're doing a good job and you're successful.

Have you got any plans for live shows that you can tell us about?

I played my first show last summer here in Vancouver, which was at this queer event, and it was so much fun! So many people came out and I couldn't believe how many actually knew the words to my songs. I’m planning more shows for this year, but I don't think I can say anything for sure just yet. I’ll have a small announcement soon, and then a bigger announcement after that, and then even a bigger announcement later! So there’s lots in the works right now for shows this year.

And what else are you looking forward to this year?

Music-wise, I'm just excited to play some shows and meet more people. I’m also getting ready for the next album and putting some ideas together for music videos, so I'm really excited for that. Life-wise, I'm just having a good time! I live in this amazing house full of queer women, and we love each other, and so I’m just really excited to go on all these adventures together in Vancouver this summer.

Bad Bandit is available on all streaming platforms now. Listen to the full interview with Xana on Headliner Radio, here: