pure xtc is just that – pure musical ecstasy. The name is incredibly fitting, but also a juxtaposition. pure xtc’s songs don’t rest in a bright realm; instead, they pull from dark production, and delve into emotions that many are hesitant to touch. Taylor Hughes, the mind behind pure xtc, has established a haunting entity, one that many could describe as stomach-turning, and was built out of a period of isolation. Although veins of pop are recognizably present, the most crucial part of pure xtc’s music isn’t rooted in its’ sonic elements; it’s what Hughes brings to the forefront as an open-hearted writer.
Okay, first thing’s first – where did the name come from?
It kind of started from a sarcastic comment I made, sort of like a “living the dream” when someone asks how you’re doing? It probably doesn’t even make sense, but it sparked the idea and that’s what matters haha
I love how lighthearted EXNATIONS was, even our sadder songs still felt bright. I personally needed to get some of my darkness out, I wanted something that fully embodied the depression I was going through and how I came to terms with it. I think I needed to do that in order to move forward.
How did EXNATIONS prepare you for your solo work?
I learned a lot from my bandmates, Sal taught me so many design tricks and still continues to bounce ideas with me on pure xtc visuals. John is THE businessman and has completely reshaped the way I think about business in general, but especially partnerships and how I approach them.
Once you shifted into pure xtc, things really seemed to fall into place. Was the shift natural?
It felt very natural but also terrifying, I’ve never done a solo project and never really sang or played guitar seriously so it’s all new territory for me. I’ve been learning as I go and it’s been a really fun way to dive into a new venture!
Your debut EP, “Nobody’s Home,” is incredibly dark and innovative. Did you intentionally set out to create a chilling body of work?
Thanks for the kind words! I’ve been really influenced by Phantogram and Billie Eillish’s production style, specifically the gritty low end and percussive layers. I really just went with what came out naturally and tried my best to not second guess it. “Begin” was the first song I wrote as pure xtc and it was all based around a mood board I created to help me find the common thread for the project.
It feels like “Nobody’s Home” explores feelings of isolation. Did the pandemic contribute to this?
I think it crept on me subconsciously, I had moved from Baltimore to the NYC metro 2 years before the pandemic hit and I was having a tough time wanting to get out and meet new people. I was secluding myself before it was mandated lol, I eventually came out of my shell and was able to write about the experience in retrospect.
What song do you think captures pure xtc’s essence in one go?
That’s such a hard one! I think my new single “Shadow” is gonna be that song for me. I’m gaining a little more confidence with my singing and learning more about what I’m actually capable of. I’m sooo excited for that song to drop on June 3rd! I think the new body of work is really gonna surprise everyone. Sonically, it’s a lot more positive and has some danceable moments.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you’ve been very vocal about inclusivity and representation. How does being a queer artist help drive your creativity?
It’s super cool that you’ve picked up on that! From day 1 starting this project, I can say I’ve been completely true to myself and going at my own pace. Not worrying about how it’s perceived has had a huge effect on my drive and excitement to create. The world needs more songs from a queer pov and I’m here to contribute!
Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to tease?
I am very excited to announce that my next EP “Shed My Skin” will be released this September! I’ll be playing a handful of shows on the east and west coast throughout the summer to celebrate! The first single, “Shadow” drops on June 3rd via Cage Riot! Pre-save it via purextcmusic.com for a chance to win exclusive merch!
Keep up with pure xtc:
Instagram is my main but my username on everything is @purextcmusic!