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Musical Artist k.xxiv Gains Millions of Views by Shining a Light on Mental Health Awareness

Growing up in Wisconsin, Music Business major k.xxiv led an idyllic life filled with jaunts around town, skateboarding, and bike riding with friends. These moments helped to shape his musical output. As he relates, “Spending most of my time outside as a kid, my friends and I would bike and skate everywhere. There was a small town close to my house, so we’d always leave for hours just to get cheap fast food and thrift clothes we thought were cool at the time. Basically, if I wasn’t at home, I was going on some kind of adventure.”

Also at this time k.xxiv became enamored with artists that were starting to gain a foothold in the alternative music scene, which propelled his confidence. “I remember in middle school, I REALLY started to get into music. Every second of every day I was listening to either Twenty One Pilots or some other alternative/emo band constantly. At the time, that was the music that spoke most to me. The messages these songs and bands carried really got me through a lot of times in my life. And then it hit me: if they can do it, so can I.”

As k.xxiv transitioned to high school, he began to craft his lyrics, and this resulted in a steady and prolific output that still stays with him today. “Although high school wasn’t exactly my favorite time, it was definitely one of the most impactful times in both my life and career. At that time, I started to really take music seriously, and within my four years of high school I made six albums in the process.”

Being self-taught, k.xxiv feels that his experimentation gives his music the vibe he is looking for. “Early on, I never really had anyone show me the ins and outs of making music or how to be an artist. I’ve been self-taught and independent since I started creating, and I feel as though that's the best way that I could have learned.”

As k.xxiv started to rack up support from friends and family, he became close to a musical genius who would become a mentor. “My friend Emmett Mulrooney, who makes his own music too, has taught me A LOT about music and the music industry. This man guided me on how to mix, record, promote, and market. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for him.”

Friends and family have played an instrumental piece in k.xxiv’s journey as an artist. “I’m unbelievably fortunate to have two parents who have supported me since the beginning. My mom has always supported my creative work. My dad is always hitting me up about every time my song ‘RISK!’ hits another million. Most of my friends either make music with me, or have helped me creatively by filming and editing some of my music videos and visuals. We’re all in this collective called GRIME CULT too, in which we all heavily associate with each other online and in our music. Besides my friends, my girlfriend is one of my biggest fans. Even before we started dating, she was bumping my music all the time and giving me ideas for songs and lyrics. Love that girl to death.”

Though Wisconsin will always be in k.xxiv’s heart, he knew that Chicago, and specifically Columbia, was the perfect school. “One of my cousins went here awhile back, and because of that, I had known about Columbia since elementary school. I never really wanted to go to a state school or join a frat, and when I researched Columbia, it just felt like the right place. I have always wanted to live in a city like Chicago.”

As an artist, k.xxiv’s influences run deep, but none deeper than his desire to help others. “Honestly, the biggest inspiration I have is the people and moments in my life. I really only started making songs to reach out to my friends who didn’t really like talking one-on-one about their mental health. I thought that through my music and its message, I could reach out to them in some way. A lot of my lyrics reference pop culture, ranging from comic book characters to cult classic films. I’ve made some references to shows like ‘One Piece’ and ‘Dragon Ball,’ and I always think, ‘when the right person hears this, they’re gonna freak out.’”

As a featured performer on Sessions@33, k.xxiv put on a performance that was spectacular. He had this to say about the series. “Y’all are super important! This type of program is the whole reason why I went to this school in the first place. Most people I know who are trying to further their artist careers at Columbia value connections and opportunities more than just getting an education. Because at the end of the day, things like this have the possibility of changing our careers or opening up a door to get there. Yes, school is important, but there is only so much you can do in a classroom that will build up your career, especially as an artist. Sessions@33 really re-introduced me to the idea that there is a creative community at Columbia that is welcoming to artists. Everyone who I worked with there was super helpful, kind, and amazingly talented.”

When it comes to the future, k.xxiv has a boatload of belief regarding his next steps. “My plan for the future has always been to become King of The Pirates. That’s a ‘One Piece’ reference for those who don’t know. I’ve never doubted who I am, and I’ve never believed that I wasn’t gonna make it. I love making music, I love my cult support base, and I love what I stand for. Right now, I’m hoping to start playing shows soon, continue making project after project, design clothes, make a bunch of friends, and continue watching ‘One Piece.’”

Sessions @33 is a series featuring Columbia College Chicago music artists performing a 4-song set in an intimate performance space at WCRXFM, Columbia’s very own radio station. In addition to the artists getting exposure, students from various departments. Please support these fantastic up-n-coming artists, as well as the collaborative efforts of the students involved behind the scenes, by watching sessions on YouTube, as well as listening to the podcast version on either Apple or Stitcher.

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