LXKVZT (pronounced Locust) was born Charles Slowley (1/7/1991) to a seemingly normal home. Beneath the veneer of the standard middle-class family, however, something was off. His father was a DIY filmmaker and director who had settled into an RN career. He worked jail psych most of Charlie’s childhood. His mother was a stay-at-home mom who taught him about chakras and ghosts. Living in Petaluma, California, Charlie was 2 when Polly Klaas was kidnapped miles from his childhood home. The small town was rocked to its core; children were no longer allowed to play outside unsupervised and a layer of paranoia hung in the air. A remarkably sentient and sensitive child, Charlie states he was aware of his own mortality, even in his earliest memories. He often enjoyed going to the cemetery to make pencil etchings of headstones. Let us dive deep into his vibe!
What led you on your musical journey?
I can’t call it for a specific moment but really just loving music. I’ve always been transfixed by sounds. I think one day I was like “I gotta figure out how to do this.” It’s always been magnetic, you know?
Tell us a bit of the esoteric wisdom your mom taught you?
She would tell me ghost stories, not like campfire ghost stories, but her encounters with things from other planes. She’s one of those people that has a bookshelf with Most world religions and practices represented. She definitely put me up on astrology, tarot, and the whole concept of the spirit realm in general at a pretty early age.
Do you utilize this wisdom in your daily life?
Mostly the concepts of being open to different Cultures and to other Worlds beyond ours. It really instilled this level of curiosity in me that is indispensable and it colors my perception consistently.
Have you ever laced esoteric messages into your music?
I was gonna do a cassette run for Visceral Ephemera that was limited to 93 copies. Although, I feel like it works best when it happens accidentally though you know? I def feel like creation in itself can be an esoteric practice. We create vibrations and everything in the universe creates and is susceptible to the pulse of its environment. In making music we’re creating life, at the very least influencing the life in our vicinity.
Inspiration of the LXKVZT
Exposed to outsider art at an early age, he gravitated to Zappa, Sun Ra, and slasher films. He was an avid reader, who was reading well about his age group from the jump. Despite his abilities, he was never able to fit into the classroom model. Often labeled as disruptive and not accessing his full potential. Highly creative, he began writing stories and songs as an outlet for his frustration at living in a vapid and rigid society and the crushing emptiness he felt.
Do you produce your own beats?
I have been more and more lately. For a long time, my beats were more just a separate creative outlet I had less ego attached to, which I allowed me to be a lot more experimental with it. They started out closer to musique concert or film score type stuff than the shit I ever intended to be rappable, but I got to a point where my vision became clearer as to what I wanted to create and I realized I had to get solid with my beat game if I wanted to make the songs I wanna make if that makes sense.
Do you prefer working alone or with other artists?
To me, this ties into the last question a lot. I feel like with my solo material, my vision has gotten further outside the realm of a collab for some projects, just because the clarity of vision can get so specific. The other side of that coin tho is that working solo sometimes I can get too close to a project to see the bigger picture, I feel like collaborating with others is solid for getting out of my comfort zone and breaking blocks.
My boy came over the other night and we just fucked with loops for hours. We had an SP-404 running samples into a loop pedal and just overlaid guitar and bass tones over it while we ran a reel to reel in reverse and at different speeds. Shit like that is grounding as fuck. That really is all left brain you know? Swimming in the vibrations till you leave the room-type shit.
I fucking love Sun Ra, his experimental vibe is unmatched. How has this type of experimental Jazz affected your approach to creativity?
Just really that free jazz style, not just sonically but as theory. The freedom of playing any more or sound (or word) for that matter when you get the urge to as opposed to being so stuck to the grid is huge. It’s left brain vs right brain you know? Both are equally valid but I feel like when my ego is attached I get more fixated on making things sound professional than just enjoying the music. It’s a balance that changes project to project. My beat tape was really inspired by Sun Ra, especially the way Ras G translated Arkestra’s music into a more beat-type format.
That beat tape was hella fun to make. Just samples of weird music, retro tampon ads, slasher films, and porn. I say that to say this, it was completely different but the theory was similar. The raw sound, the completely off-grid movement. I feel like it’s important to be influenced in theory and apply it to your own vision, your way. I see a lot of artists and they get influenced literally you know? Like, recreate a genre rather than an artistic concept.
By the time he was 9, he was laying on his back in a public pool. The water pounding in his ears, he wondered what would happen after he died. He originally began writing to leave something behind besides a corpse. In 7th grade, he was getting suspended from school regularly, ditching class, or showing up drunk. His priorities were his various bands in which he played guitar or bass.
What strengths do you have that you believe make you a great musician?
A sense of individuality has definitely been a double-edged blessing. I’m not into following trends, I make music I wanna listen to. Or that I feel I have a responsibility to create. Like if it’s a song about some shit that I think will make someone feel less alone, even for 5 minutes, I’m making that song. I’ve made songs before where I’m speaking out against some shit where I’ve been like “damn, I’m probably gonna get jumped for this one.” But at that point, there’s a responsibility to make the song over fear of reaction.
Do you have any weaknesses that you’re actively working to improve on?
Yeah man, for sure. I’m working on being less critical of myself. Shit can be crushing you know? I feel like as an artist it’s an amazing motivator but it can also be a huge blockage. I’m working on my ego constantly and striving to be a better person in the ruins of Babylon.
Walk us through your creative process.
This one right here though, with lyrics I can pontificate on syllables for months or just bang out a track on the spot, it comes and goes for sure. There’s that energy thing that took me a long time to grasp you know? There are layers to this shit. At first, it was all about the words, then I realized it was more about the energy than just what was said, or a beat in general too. Sometimes I sit down with a clear view of what I wanna do in my head and it doesn’t come out anything close to what I imagined or channeled depending on your view. But the more I try to shape it, the farther it gets energetically from what it was supposed to be.
That non-attachment is the most important thing to me creatively right now. With beats, I def have a way more developed process, probably because I see it more as a utilitarian thing than my main outlet. It looks like making playlists as I find samples. I sit down and pull a sample. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Learning to layer drums has leveled my beat game up a million percent. I like to get my chops laid out and then working on how my drums are swung and adding various minute addictions to keep it interesting. There’s a fine line between loops and doing way too much on a track drum wise you know?
Adolescence hit hard with tensions rising at home, he would run away only to be brought home by the police. Misdiagnosed with BiPolar disorder, as is common in men with borderline personality disorder, he found himself on various meds. Bad med reactions lead to suicide attempts and repeated hospitalizations. Charlie began experimenting heavily with everything from prescription pills to stimulants. He began freestyling and the response from his peers was overwhelming, so he began taking his rap seriously, realizing his poems transferred well to beats.
In freshman year, he was releasing burned CDs of original material to mixed reactions. In and out of juvenile hall and psych wards, he continued to work on his craft. He stopped taking the meds he had been prescribed as they made him feel disconnected from his essence and less creative. He began independently releasing albums with his friends on a small label and dropped “Unconscious Rap” when he was 18.
When you are not focused on rapping, what do you do that inspires your artistic endeavors?
Crate digging, breathe work, meditation, and I also represent me on all fronts. So I’m always networking, working with other artists the public so there’s always shit to do. The biggest thing right now is learning how to not burn myself out on perpetual grind mode.
As an independent artist, do you plan to cultivate your own collective or label, or do you plan on remaining solo?
it would depend on the project. As of now, I think the collective route for sure. Fucking with a label would be dope but it would have to flow with my creative control.
Spiraling of the LXKVZT
Couch surfing and sleeping in cars and selling dubs to make ends meet to create his art. He followed that up with a sequel as well as a series of full-lengths, but things started getting rough. The harassment from law enforcement, toxic relationships, and addiction began spiraling out of control. Just as he was starting to gain some traction both in performing and selling his merch, his mentor was raided and Charlie went to do what he could to salvage the closes thing he had to a family at that time. In the middle of that, the girl he was dating left with a member of the group he was performing with. The break-up was decisive among friends and he lost many of his connections in the local scene. The molly and psychedelics descended into using abusing crystal heavily.
How has addiction affected your life?
I mean… I wouldn’t change my past if I could. I’m thankful for the days I ate and the days I didn’t because they all helped me become who I am. It’s been a long-ass journey and I think addiction has taught me more than a class ever could about psychology and spirituality. I love the Buddhist metaphor of the hungry ghost, that unfulfilled restlessness. It’s that set and setting thing. It helps me check my motives when it comes to anything cuz I do life-addictive. Shoes, women. It doesn’t have to be a drug. It’s an obsession with distraction. It’s also a huge motivator. I have a part of me that’s like “fuck it, I’ll risk everything for this right now.” That can be a huge asset when it comes to pursuing goals if used as a tool.
Have psychedelics played a role in your recovery?
The change in perspective is unparalleled. The ability to reprogram pathways carved in scenarios of trauma and circular self-destructive behavior is as well.
Further Down the Spiral
Originally starting as the energy he needed to write more productively. The initial creative streak ended quickly and he became destitute. He would start editing the syllables of a verse. Then by the end of the night would conclude with a replica of his first draft. Exasperated with his music, his driving force, he decided to take his own life. Just not before he finished his last album. He wanted to repay hip hop for everything it had ever done for him. As well as to get back at the culture, for how far he allowed it to lead him astray. The problem was, he was too shot out to finish anything.
What are the hardest obstacles in your life you’ve overcome?
I have a personality disorder. Imma just come out and say this because it’s not addressed as much as should be in the rap community. I have a borderline personality disorder, so I deal with crushing bouts of existential emptiness and unstable perceptions so I can’t always listen to my brain. Learning to trust my intuition and not hear my “crazy” as loud is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever walked through. That inability to trust your own thoughts can be both terrifying and freeing. When I wake up in the morning though, my mind is on go mode. I think the biggest obstacles I’ve overcome are the ones we face consistently. The decision to walk away from that altercation, to not follow the status quo and pursue your dream you get the idea.
Do you find it important to reflect this in your lyrics?
I do if it can make someone feel less alone. There are absolutely songs that have saved my life. I’d rather make one of those for someone else than be on a curated playlist. Being an MC is a huge responsibility to me. I wanna be the rapper I needed to hear when I was growing up.
The Resurrection of the LXKVZT
He realized one day he was all out of hustles, friends and had lost years of his life. At 23 he began his road to ending his substance abuse issues and he hit a horrendous creative block. Fast forward about 7 years and Charlie is 30, walking away from a career and a relationship to follow his passion. Despite strong warnings from his fellows, he leased a van tall enough to track in and began releasing music again. With no wife, no kids, and no future, he is set on returning to the music. The elements that got him into it, before the dope, before the game. He is dedicating himself to being the mc he needed when he was younger, promoting healing from mental illness, PTSD, narcotic addiction, and posturing without sounding corny.
What is everyday life like in Petaluma?
I currently live in a van near Sebastopol, Ca. It’s pretty rural. It’s a weird-ass place, to be honest. The gap between the working and the upper class is insane here and is less and less affordable by the day. That’s the dope thing about the van. I can just cut whenever I get sick of an area. What’s up with an outta state tour?
Would you ever come out to the Atlantic Northeast to perform?
Next thing Smokin’ bruh! let me know! I get a lot more love from the east coast scene based on my style. People always accused me of “sounding east coast.”
Do you guys have a big hip-hop scene, if so when did it begin and who are the key players in the Sebastopol hip-hop scene?
I’m from an hour north of the Bay Area so I’d have to say that would be the scene. For me, The Jacka was the dopest before he passed. No lie, I haven’t been up on the rap scene out here as much since his assassination.
Do you feel the impact of social media has helped the independent musician more so now than in the past?
Gift and a curse ya know? On the one hand, it is so much easier now than it was even 10 years ago. I remember being lofi before it was popular lol. Just ten years ago SoundCloud was starting to jump off and I was pushing physical CDs. That being said, our culture has changed so much musically. Remember coping albums and learning every word on the whole ass joint? That album you even knew the “skits” on? Now our culture is so Inundated with new material that it’s very often like “yeah that’s cool, next….”. I think the way we’re listening to music is changing and that is changing our medium but I also think that’s crucial to the evolution of the movement.
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What is your view on “rap beef”, do you, or would you, engage in exchanging diss tracks when someone calls you out your name?
I feel like it’s easy to get lost in that aspect of the culture. The posturing and vanity aspect of the game, especially as a male has been a hindrance for sure. I feel like it distracts from the music. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I came up battling but it just has the propensity to get funky pretty quick. It would def be case by case basis… I’ve always had an aversion to coming up off diss tracks you know?
Hip Hop has many facets and subgenres, do you feel these labels and distinctions matter? If so, in what sub-genre would you categorize your music?
I guess the closest would be boom bap or lofi hip hop. I think people get too caught up in descriptions than critically analyzing new material for themselves and I think that’s dangerous. My music falls into a few categories I don’t identify with.
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Do you have a favorite esoteric or occult message you’re willing to share?
Nothing coming to mind. That Angulimala parable is solid tho. He killed 999 people and made a rosary out of their finger bones. Then he was prevented by the Buddha from killing his thousandth victim, which he believed would lead him to liberation. After his encounter with the Buddha, Angulimala was eventually able to purify his mind and become a monk.
What really keeps you motivated and inspired to be alive right now?
My music and honestly shit like this. Talking to other MCs that actually get what we go through being independent artists.
Man, what a fucking great interview, to conclude I’d like to thank you for your time and for sharing your story. Is there anything you want to add?
Yeah, I wanna say thank you for this opportunity.
Word Up! We love your vibe!
You can find LXKVZT on Spotify, IG, and Bandcamp. Go show him some love! Leave a comment here and let us know what you think! We also got plenty of videos dropping and in creation, as I type this, that fact still stands true as you read this. This is because Earworm Entertainment Artist Collective does not slack. We are creators born to create. We are consistently creating something new beyond the music! lookout for new shows, videos, art, and music from my Earworm Family! Also, never forget the Schezworm Sauce!