It’s a bold move to call your album Apex. It’s like shouting from the top of a mountain that you’ve hit a serious peak. Excision is no newcomer to the game, so to hear him put that on his sleeve is a big look, and the album is indeed a big sound.
This 14-track collection is Excision flexing his muscles. He aimed for a variety of sounds and styles, and he definitely lands on a few moods, though his characteristic in-your-face grime style shines throughout. This is a massive blast of bass. If you take a moment to stop dancing, you might just get knocked off your ass.
Apex is equally an effort of community. He teamed up with some of his musical besties to create some of the album’s best moments. Illenium is on here, as is his good friend Dion Timmer and others. Hear the story of how this crowning achievement came to life in the track-by-track breakdown below.
Excision – “Exterminate”
I wrote this as the opening track for my 2018 Paradox tour. I thought it was a great opening track, because it really felt like it set the tone for the album. (It draws) from all my sounds, both new and classic. I actually almost named the album Exterminate, but I didn’t want this song (or any one song) to represent the entire album in that way, since I put in a lot of effort to make this album as diverse as I could.
Excision & Space Laces – “1 On 1”
Ian (Space Laces) and I have worked together on a ton of tunes. It’s really fun to work with people that you have spent a lot of time in the studio with. His sound design is from another planet, so when we put our heads together, we really try to push some boundaries and explore what else we can do. We knew the bar was set high from our previous success with “Throwin’ Elbows,” and we are really stoked with the reaction this one received.
Excision & Sullivan King – “Wake Up”
This one means a lot to me,. I wanted to write a track to help fans through tough times, and let them know that we still struggle with all of the same things they do. In the process, I wanted to help give the fans a direction for the frustration and to be able to release it on the floor. To me, that meant building a song that starts off extremely slow, captures all of those emotions building throughout the song, and going from a ballad to one of the heaviest drops possible. I reached out to Keaton (Sullivan King) with the concept, and he loved it right off the bat. We went through probably 50 versions of the lyrics before we were happy with them, and I made him redo the guitar parts so many times, I think I was driving him crazy by the end of it, haha. Sullivan King is one of the strongest, influential new names in bass music, and we’ve both been making metal-influenced tracks since we started. I was stoked to have someone that can shred and sing like he can in the studio. I’ve had a lot of awesome feedback from fans saying they really felt the track and that it helped them, so I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.
Excision – “Tonight”
This one went unreleased for a while, by far the oldest track on the album. (It was) made in late 2016 to use as an opener on the 2017 tour. The animation we have for this one is amazing and always makes the crowd pull their phones out to film (which is still weird to me, seeing a sea of phones appear mid-set).
Excision & Illenium – “Gold (Stupid Love)” Feat. Shallows
This project was a monster to make happen. There are so many things the world doesn’t see behind the scenes; lots of different people involved and all the industry stuff that can sometimes hold things back. Getting the vocal licensing contracts signed for this one almost led to this track never seeing the light of day. Luckily, we were able to figure everything out. The writing aspect was awesome, though, and working with Nick (Illenium) was something fresh and really effortless. I find that when you capture the emotion quickly and “ride the wave” the lyrics take you to, the track is a lot more cohesive and meaningful. I was stoked when we cranked out the vast majority of this song in a few days. It definitely turned out to be one of my favorite tunes on the whole album. I’m really proud of how it came out, and the reaction to it has really carried.
Excision – “Fall”
People ask about my writing process all the time wondering how I approach my music. For this one, it was a bit of a rough day and was actually my first attempt at making “Wake Up.” I was happy with how “Fall” was coming, but wasn’t quite able get the message across without lyrics, so I broke this one off into its own track. From there, I focused on building the emotion from the sad sounding intro into a heavy release of frustration and anger. For an instrumental track, I’m definitely happy with how it rides that roller coaster.
Excision & Dion Timmer – “Home”
Dion and I have been writing together since early 2014 when he was only 14 years old (now 19). Seeing someone with such a strong work ethic at that young of an age was very inspirational for me, and we’ve both been pushing each other ever since. Seeing how far he has come in both his career and in his musical ability has been a blast to watch. When we found this vocal, it really resonated with both of us, as we’ve spent so much time away from our loved ones and our homes. We’ve both felt the pain of loss and no longer being able to talk to someone we truly cared about. Dion and I have always been on the same wavelength, someone where you can finish each other’s sentences kinda thing. Having that in the studio makes it really fun, and we end up cranking out songs faster than we could ever do alone or with anyone else. “Home” is one of the tunes that, when you’re done writing it, you just know immediately that it works. This is one we were feeling really hard from the beginning to the end.
Excision & Dion Timmer – “Where Are You”
Great story for this one. Dion and I were goofing around in the studio one day. His girlfriend hadn’t seen the vocal booth before, so I told them to go in there and say some creepy shit while I put effects on her voice. We weren’t exactly planning to use any of it, especially since I was just throwing random effects on the master channel, but luckily I hit record anyway. She has a very small sounding voice, so a huge reverb was sounding pretty cool when she said “Where are you?” Shortly after, Dion responded with “Brother, may I please have some oats?” Following the vibe of my Detox sets, I definitely want to make some more weird, mellow, catchy songs like this in the future.
Excision – “Power”
Following along with the Detox vibe, this one was an experiment in doing a strange, off-beat bassline that still has a groove people can follow and call “heavy.” I’m stoked with how it turned out, and it’s a different kind of sound that helps break up the album.
Excision – “Vault”
One of my favorite parts of constructing a set is creating an epic intro. For this one, I wanted to go down memory lane and pull vocal samples from classic X tunes from over the last 10 years, hence the name “Vault.” I really opened up the past and pulled out vocal samples from tracks that people have a strong connection to. I debuted this one at Lost Lands Music Festival in 2017 (Excision’s dinosaur-themed music festival in Ohio) and still love playing it as the crowd screams out the lyrics almost every time. It was extremely fun to create from my own catalog like this, and the pay off when I play it live is epic.
Excision – “Die For You” Feat. Akylla
I’ve known fellow Canadian girls Akylla for a long time and feel like we tapped into something really epic with our first collaboration “Drowning.” Their vocals have a really haunting and atmospheric quality, and it really creates the overall tone of the track. As far as the track itself, I’m not sure describing this one with words will do it much justice. The lyrics, and what you feel when you close your eyes and listen to this, really say everything.
Excision & Dion Timmer – “Hoods Up” Feat. Messinian
It wouldn’t be an X album without some big powerful vocals from Messinian (MC and hype man for the Excision-led group, Destroid). One of the best things about working with James (Messinian) is I’ll hand him a beat and he always comes back with something insane and super creative, if not the same day then the next at the latest. He just has that ability to always come up with magical lines that work perfectly in context of the song. This tune had originally been released on one of my compilation releases and on Dion’s Textacy EP, but I felt it needed to be included on Apex due to its success on the dance floor, and because of how well it works with the other album material.
Excision & Sullivan King – “Fight Through The Pain”
While “Wake Up” was about the journey through mental tough times – more melodic and catchy – we really wanted this one to go back to our metal roots. This one was about powering through and finishing what you’ve started. It was awesome to work with his growls and guitars to construct the beats and drops around. We sent each other a ton of metal reference tracks, and the result is a twisted amalgamation of everything we both love in metal, a mix of the classic and new styles.
Excision & Space Laces – “Rumble”
I was super happy with how this one came out. We spent a ton of time getting the intro dialed-in to create the most tension possible. Turn this one up, and I promise, it will not fail to create goosebumps. I had no choice but to make it the lead single of the album.
Apex is out now on Excision’s label. Dive into its dark bass depths below.