A man of many monikers, GYPTXVN/Flexo Kobain, is undeniably entrenched and central to all new sounds coming out of London right now. Although based in North West London, the talented individual transcends geographical location, working with both UK and US artists. ‘Digital Love’ is the term he uses to describe the collaborative nature of his music which happens through the online music community he is ingrained in. Recognised in two distinct art forms, both production and penmanship, we wanted to get to know more about GYPTXVN/Flexo Kobain and the man behind these aliases.
GYPTXVN has worked with the likes of Kish!, OGKEMi, Mally. A, Baski+, Lxdxp and more. It cannot be stressed enough how integral he is to the underground music scene, producing a variety of genres such as plugg, pluggnb, trap, pop-style and drill; the list goes on. With the level of versatility and creativity GYPTXVN exudes, it’s not hard to see why everyone is working with him.
Producing is not the only talent he possesses, he also shines as an artist through his alias Flexo Kobain. Flexo, who has worked with the likes of Finch Fetti and Manny Dubbs, is a star in his own right. With spacey-sounding vocals and lyrics, he makes any track have a dream-like edge. In his recent release, “Highway To The Sun (Gran Torino)”, the artist shows off his wavy, melodic vocals on a punchy, dark trap beat, contrasting releases like “Her & Me, which focuses on smooth RnB-styled vocals and a gliding beat.
Just after the recent release of GYPTXN’s “Luhv On My Mind” and the soon-to-be-released Flexo Kobain tape entitled, “Total Rendition”, we sat down with him to discuss all things love, projects, collaboration and spirituality.
Where are you based in London and does that influence you at all?
I’m based in Northwest London, in the borough of Camden. Has it influenced my music? A little bit, from what I’ve lived as a young person in London. But I feel like London itself is very influential so I feel like sometimes you don’t really need to be from a certain area. You can live in an area but it’s like what is around us in this whole city.
You’ve got an extremely high output level, how do you manage this?
To be honest, I don’t know. I think it’s like an African thing or like a Nigerian thing that I have a hard-working ethic. Or maybe being the eldest as well - I know Travis Scott is the eldest in his house, he works hard and I work hard. I guess I really want it that bad. I feel like if I’m not making music, I’m studying it. I try to learn theory, piano keys, and notes. If I'm not doing that, then I’m taking photos. If I’m not doing that then, shit. I’m probably just with the mandem, still. Probably in their studio sessions. I'm always on the go, doing something and I’m a manager as well.
So you’re always doing something creative basically?
I Have to be. It has to be done, Poppy. You know the vibes.
When are you most creative?
The night-time. I’m definitely a person that can’t really sleep well but when I am in the dream world, the astral realm, yeah, it’s lit. But yeah, I wanna say in the nighttime because that’s just when I feel more comfortable and obviously I have work as well. I work a 9-5 so I usually come home and make beats. But really and truly it’s whatever nowadays, especially to make this work. It really is whatever. If Finch tells me ‘yo I’ve got studio lined up for so and so, or you can come to my house at 12pm tomorrow’ - I'm there.
You’re a very collaborative artist. Is there a reason behind this?
See how I make beats, I'm like ok this beat would bang if I had XYZ on it or like if I sent this to Baski it would sound nice. So I feel like because I make beats, naturally, when you are a producer, you are always going to be more collaborative and your mind is going to be open to a lot of things. Being able to digest other people and then wanting to collab with them. Also when I came into the game, when I started this ting, I was in uni like 2016/17. I didn’t really know anybody so the internet was my best friend. It's just digital love.
Do you make the beat with someone in mind or is it an afterthought?
It’s always gonna be for my ears firstly. But like as time progresses during making the beat, I’ll be like ok this would sound nice if I sent it to Mally.A or one of my brudda’s in American like Astral Trap or Cheray.
Is there one you want to pursue more - artist or producer?
I feel like it’s easier making beats cos the producer scene is always gonna be way friendlier. I’ve experienced that being an artist is actually really hard. You need to have the mental capacity for it, you need to be able to get on with things, do things, you need to be able to have your shit in order sometimes. Sometimes you might just be depressed and you might not want to drop and someone says ‘I’m dropping our collab song by the way’ — there’s nothing you can do. Really and truly, I would like to be an artist but I know it’s tough. I’ve learned more as Flexo recently and I know people have seen that.
Is there a different essence to GYPTXVN and Flexo? And if so, what is it?
I’m just a vessel for both art forms. They both link but I think with GYPTXVN the music is harder, punchier, darker but also more ambient and melodic at times. With Flexo, it’s about the lavish lifestyle, going shopping, situationships, plugg 3 beats, retro-futurism, space, etc. The brand is there. But for GYPTXVN, I’m a producer so I can be anything.
I heard you are planning a tape with Baski, tell us a bit about it.
So, we have about twenty songs together. I think Grand Slam was kinda just the warm-up, we gonna start to ease in a couple more songs. Baski is amazing, still. He’s a real f**king pop star. THE f**king popstar from f**king East London, from barking, you get me. So, big up him every time.
I also know you make a lot of music with Mally. A, how did that come about?
Mally’s so cold. He’s kinda similar to Cheray — just very warm in soul. If I could paint his soul, bro, it would be like brown or some shit, or like golden. No funny shit as well…pause…He’s a cool person though, you get it. I think I met him through my boy DXVL. I just found someone who can like really, really sing on plugg beats out here. I really like singers in Atlanta like Corey Lingo. So when I found him I was like yeah, I’m gonna make this happen.
Do you link up with artists in person a lot?
Not enough and that kinda hurts my mental health. Sometimes I think about that shit and I’m like yo, I don’t wanna just make music with people. Why can’t we all do like, cool shit? I feel like I have too many ideas but they’re getting flushed out cos everyone is on different timing. For example, I wanted to go on holiday with one of my boys in this music thing but we can’t because he has shows and all this shit. It’s just difficult. I wanna do shit other than music like let’s go go-karting or something.
We’ve spoken before about spirituality. What does spirituality mean to you and does it seep into your creative process?
It helps my creative process and it does mean a lot to me because it’s like sometimes I’m feeling low and it keeps my energy in check. I think the best thing about doing music and being very spiritual is along the way you’ll see and meet more spiritual artists, people that have kinda dabbled in that field. Manifestation, praying, meditating or whatever just helps me kinda seek out more people, or like get certain things I wanted so, yeah. It definitely is a big thing in my music. I’d encourage everyone to get tapped into their actual mind because our minds are powerful. Like really and truly I manifested this interview with you. I said to myself I’m gonna do more interviews, etc before bed and it just happened, you get it.
Let's talk about your two new tapes. Recently released, “Luhv On My mind” and the soon-to-be-released, “Total Rendition”.
What is the concept behind Luhv On My Mind?
The concept of the tape was simply to understand the emotion and meaning of what love represents for every individual off the project. To see how other people perceive these individuals’ versions of love. I don’t really understand love, I don't really feel like I’ve ever had that kinda shit. I guess love is just like a burning fire and it’s like a candle is lit and then someone else also has a candle and they share that same type of fire with you. That's what I kinda perceive love as. Two candles that share one flame. Not even on no corny shit, that’s just how I perceive it. I wanted people to take everyone’s perspectives of love from that project. It was really amazing to do. It was almost leading on from the first tape I did this year which was “from egypt, with luhv”, which was also a love/emotion tape that came out on valentines day. That was all lovey, lovey songs and I just wanted that to be the same.
Why did you choose this concept?
I love the concept because I grew up with mad RnB. I feel like I’m always gonna want to talk about or sing about love. Even as a dreamer, as a person that doesn’t really know what it is. But I feel like I’ve experienced it in some other ways, just not with a person.
The artists on the tape have given you their interpretations of love, but which one interpretation on the tape do you resonate the most with?
I feel like Baski’s song represents how I feel about love. It’s just like very euphoric and he’s kinda transparent and high about it. I like Cheray’s as well, I like all of them. The darkest song is, “There Goes Da World” which was cool for me - hearing how love is perceived and how the world is burning. I can’t give you a concrete answer, I love every single song off the tape, shout out to everyone that was part of it.
What is the vibe of the up-and-coming Flexo Kobain tape?
There is a theme behind it. Now, the cover art represents the planet Saturn and I like planets, I like space; so for every song, it will be titled under a planet. It’s more vibrant energy from me as well. There are warmer sounds. A lot of turnt up energy on this ‘cos a lot of planets in the solar system have really different environments. For example mercury is really rocky, but Neptune is really cold so I wanna represent it. It’s gonna be all sorts, regular Flexo stuff, me being me but every song will represent an emotion attached to the planets.
When do you plan on releasing it?
Originally I planned to release in September but I just came from Paris, I just linked up with a bunch of French plugg mandem - they are so so cool. I took photos of the Eiffel Tower, smoked up, made music out there that’s probably gonna be on the tape too— if I can pattern the mix and master before. I’m saying most likely end of October.
Are there any features on it, and if so, who from?
There are definitely gonna be some features on there. I wanna get some people that represent certain planets as well. When I look at someone like Cheray, she’s definitely a Mercury or some n****s that’s as bright as the sun. Or you know when I speak to Baski he’s more like a vibrant cool planet, he’s like Saturn or something. I dunno, it’s weird to describe someone and say, ‘yo, you look like a fucking planet’…that’s so weird. There will be a couple features on there, I can’t drop too many names specifically but yeah, I’m planning to get Baski and Cheray on there.
Words Poppy Warren (@poppy_warren)