Returning from a run of high-energy pop rock singles, Canadian pop powerhouse Xana unveils her boldly autobiographical debut album, Tantrums.
An unapologetic expression of emotion, Tantrums boldly takes listeners on a journey of love gone bad with honest vulnerability at the heart of each track. Detailing the tumultuous journey through a toxic relationship, Xana lays bare her inner most thoughts and feelings in what feels like an exercise of catharsis – tackling heartbreak all while maintaining an empowering self-determination. Incorporating themes of LGBTQ+ romance, female sexuality and self-discovery into her songwriting, Xana has crafted a release packed with timeless anthems, steeped in personal experience.
We sat down with Xana to discuss her debut album and unpack her musical journey so far that has led to this momentous moment.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album Xana! Tell us a bit about the songwriting process for ‘Tantrums’?
Thank you! Tantrums came over the course of a few years. Songwriting is what I do to process what I’m going through or have gone through. A few years ago, I felt like I was drowning a bit and I had a lot I needed to sort through and express so I started writing, and just didn’t stop. More and more stories were coming to life, more connections were forming and a bigger picture was coming into view. I probably had half of Tantrums written before I realised that I was making an album. Once I was in the studio, it was an incredible experience getting to take these songs that I’ve only ever heard in my head and make them a real tangible thing. And with every song we made, I pushed myself further and further, lyrically, sonically, vocally, in any way I could. I’m so grateful to my producers, Liam Moes and Shane Stephenson, because they were right there ready to go down every rabbit hole with me. And as I was new to recording, I didn’t always have the language but regardless they always understood my vision and what I was trying to achieve. I’m really grateful I found these two people who were able to so perfectly capture the noise in my head. Every song on Tantrums was written a little differently, but they all started with just me and my guitar or piano. So when I say that I put all of myself into these songs, I mean that when I was alone I wrote down onto paper things I’ve never said out loud before.
It’s been a very freeing and rewarding experience to be able to be loud, and bratty, and dramatic and soft and scared and angry and in love and come out on the other side feeling like a whole new person and artist. My only goal for Tantrums when I started was to write the very best album I possibly could at that time, and I can confidently say I met that goal and beyond. I’m so proud of this project.
Do you have any standout favourite tracks from the album, and what is the story behind them?
It’s so hard! But right now, I’m really excited for “I Did This All For You!” to be out in the world. It very much felt like a “meant to be” song for the album because I wrote it a couple of months after we thought the album was finished, and when we were in the studio working on it I was like “Oh my god, this is the first song on the album.” By that point we only had a few weeks left to finish it but it came so easily and the flow between my producers and I was spot on. It was the week leading up to Christmas that we recorded it and definitely a highlight of 2021 for me. The song itself is written from the POV of someone who truly believes they are acting out of love for another, but in reality their actions are more manipulative and selfish. Regardless of the twisted turn the lyrics take, the music is very upbeat and fun which I thought was the perfect way to begin this album. “I Did This All For You!” says to the listener “come with me, we’re gonna have so much fun together… ” and then the song ends and they’re thrown into the rest of the record with whiplash.
Another really fun song to make was “Complex”. I knew I wanted an empowering song on the album. I feel like everybody needs that “I’m a big bad gift from the gods and anyone would be so lucky to breathe my air” kind of song after a breakup. “Complex” is a character song which allows me to go wild with the vocals, lyrics, theme, everything. In the studio, it was the kind of song where no idea was too crazy or too weird. We entertained every idea we had and let the song pull us in the direction it wanted to go. I sang in ways I hadn’t been given the opportunity to before which was exhilarating. A couple of my favourite parts are the “gremlin pirate gangs” (as i like to call them) towards the end and how completely unhinged the main character becomes as the song goes on. As a Leo, it was very fun to write and produce such a confident, deluded, powerful and sexual song. I cannot wait to go absolutely feral when I perform this song live with everyone.
What do you want your audience to take away from listening to ‘Tantrums’?
I just hope the music makes them feel something. Maybe they’ll see a reflection of themselves or those they’ve loved in the stories I have told. Maybe they’ll learn something new about their situations, but regardless I think they’re going to experience something very emotional out of this album and that’s really special. I’m really excited to present myself as an artist with this album, and I hope they can hear and feel my love for storytelling, and also accept this very confessional side of myself that I’ve bared to the world. Tantrums is basically my diary from the last few years, and I hope it’s met with a lot of love.
Who are your top 3 favourite artists on repeat at the moment?
Gracie Abrams, Fletcher and Taylor Swift! I just saw Fletcher in New York recently and she was amazing, a true rockstar. I’m so happy I finally got to see her perform! Gracie and Taylor are next on the must-see list.
What are your top music career highlights so far?
Finally releasing this album is a huge highlight for me, it’s been years in the making and I’ve put everything I have into it so to see it finally be ready to meet the rest of the world is an exhilarating and emotional moment for me. I have no idea what’s going to happen once it’s out, but I know that I love every single second of the album, I’m so proud of this project and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
I debuted my music career with my single “Goddess” and I really wasn’t expecting much response from that release. As it was my first, I was expecting that it would take a while to reach people but I was blown away with the response and quick growth of that song. It reached so many people and I still get messages every day about how “Goddess” has helped people through their tough situations and trauma and has helped them find their confidence and empowerment, it’s truly such a gift to see the song touch people in those ways.
How would you like your music to evolve and develop in the next few years?
I’ve learned a lot over the last few years of making this album and going forward I have these big ideas and visions for what’s next. Visual media with my music has been a really important component to this project and a goal of mine is to continue pushing those limits and bringing even bigger stories and worlds to my listeners. It’s also very important to me that I continue deepening my connection with my listeners, they’re all so lovely and I feel so lucky that I get to share my music with them. At the beginning of this project, I thought of myself as someone who writes songs, and now I think of myself as an artist, and that’s the best gift this album has given me and I cannot wait to continue feeding my curiosity and imagination.