X avier Muzik is a producer and composer who is fascinated by the mechanisms people use to assign and ascribe essence and purpose to people, places, and things, and how these come to be understood as inherent characteristics. As a black, multiracial man, Xavier was introduced to the fluid, normative nature of essence through the constant negotiations around race he has experienced throughout his lifetime: too black for the white kids, and too white for the black kids. How can race be an essential biological function if the boundaries of which are in near-constant flux? Though this idea is becoming more and more widely accepted, personal experience has taught Xavier that the ghost of the "one-drop rule" continues to reign supreme to the detriment of our collective humanity. The American social order has convinced us that race is not just a part of our identity, but, for better or for worse, at the very essence of who we are. His compositional practice inspects and dissects this assertion.
In his music, Xavier initially began to explore the mechanisms of imbuing essence through the essentialism of race itself by inverting the process of analysis to synthesis to define what it means to be black on his own terms. He did so through research and study of the common characteristics of black music as identified by scholars like composer Olly Wilson and musicologist Horace Maxile Jr. to create musical structures that interrogate those characteristics and his relationship to them. For example, Xavier is drawn to the negotiation between the augmented second/minor third and the major third (and everything in between) common in many types of black music because that negotiation personally exemplifies his own experience with the negotiations around race. Much of his music utilizes this negotiation, and others like it, as a musical structure through which Xavier explores it within the varying contexts of any given piece. This process is iterative and intentional, but each step further refines Xavier's perception of his own race.
Photo by JonJon Blunden
This pursuit is lifelong, and thus does not represent the limit of Xavier's creative interests. He has replicated this approach to inspect his relationship to the essential nature of realms beyond race such as capitalism, spiritualism, and love. He hopes that this exploration will help him to be not only a better composer but also a better partner, friend, and community servant.
Xavier Muzik holds a Master's Degree in Music Composition and a graduate minor in Creative Community Development from the Mannes School of Music at The New School. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Composition from the California Institute of the Arts.
All photos by JonJon Blunden