Ether XOXO: Hip-hop from the heart
by Mike Roe
With the world’s spotlight focused on Seattle’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Bellingham’s ever growing community of emcees, DJs, artists and producers now find themselves in one of the most exciting times to be involved in hip-hop. Socially conscious rappers have the ear of the nation, along with a unique message to share. Ether XOXO, of Bellingham, is one of these artists, and his message of hope, frustration, and inspiration shines through on his debut album Built This House.
Ether XOXO (Ethan Ehr) has been a fan of hip-hop for years, but it wasn’t until after an inspired studio session that he decided it was time to start working on his debut album. “After recording my first song in January of last year, I was immediately hooked, and then after sharing that song with a few friends and family members, I was encouraged to continue,” Ether XOXO said. “So the idea of creating an album came after a couple shows and the feedback that I got from the people around me. It was the best way to express the truth about how I see, feel, and experience life.”
The sound of the album comes from more than hip-hop. “I’ve always been a huge fan of punk, rock, and music in general, bands like Green Day, The Beastie Boys, and NoFX, but I’ve always created hip-hop,” Ether XOXO explained.
He has been honing his writing over the past year and creates hip-hop for a reason: “My goal as an artist is to utilize the platform that hip-hop has gained around the world and use that to spread my message. I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in life and have been blessed enough to have loved ones help me persevere. Hip-hop literally saved my life!”
This type of emotion comes through in Ether XOXO’s lyrics. There is a passion behind his voice, that when combined with the beat production from Jake “J-walk” Bogaard, creates something hard hitting…in more ways than one.
“This record will be released toward the end of March and it encompasses a large part of untold stories about my life and has some perspective on things like love, religion, addiction, and social stigmas,” he said. “The song “Fell to Pieces” explores these topics with lyrics like, “Broken toys everywhere, like hope and joy was never there. A barren wasteland, did anybody ever care.”
Ether XOXO balances out the tone of the album with songs like “She and I,” which has a laid back beat and sultry female vocals from Ashley Douglas that provide the backdrop for Ether XOXO’s bouncing cadence and smooth vocal delivery style.