Get to know trance artists XiJaro & Pitch who are making their mark on the electronic music scene in 2020 with stunning livestreams on Twitch!
While XiJaro (Xander) and Pitch (Anthony) have been musical artists for around 15 years now, but they are definitely having their moment in 2020. Both artists got their start on radio shows and making mixes and like many DJs during the quarantine, Anthony immediately took to livestreaming as a way to entertain and engage fans, as well as entertain himself.
When you tune into them on Twitch a few things become immediately clear: Anthony loves trance, loves his fans, and smiles endlessly when performing. One other small detail presents itself, he’s blind, but, it becomes obvious that his disability isn’t a huge issue in performing.
During their streams, they raise money for the Norrie Disease Foundation which is researching the rare ailment that left Anthony blind at birth. To prove his disability isn’t a factor, he does no pre-programming of his sets and often plays for more than seven hours straight. And the Trance Family has sure found them as well, as a common set for XiJaro & Pitch on Twitch has gone from 15-20 viewers just a few weeks ago to many hundreds today.
Read on in the interview below to hear more about how they come together to produce and perform. Don’t forget to follow them on Twitch for live performances and enjoy their uplifting trance guest mix as well!
Stream EDMID Guest Mix 222 || XiJaro & Pitch on SoundCloud:
Hey guys, thanks for joining me for this discussion! Let’s start with a simple question – who are XiJaro & Pitch and how did you become a musical duo?
Anthony: When I was 14 years old I had a radio show called Into Trance. I was listening to After Hours FM which was really, really popular back then. I heard somebody making fabulous mega mixes; like Armin Van Buuren end of year mixes kind of level. I was like, whoa, I want to know who that is and it was XiJaro. Then I emailed him for a guest mix on my show.
Xander: From there, we just started working together on some mashups and mixes, and eventually we landed on this collaboration that we have now. It was 2014 when we decided to fully join forces.
Like many duos you each have a pretty specific role and I think it’s fair to say that you are each a part of a much bigger whole when you work together. What are your roles and how do you bring everything together in the end?
A: I’m more the DJ. I like spinning records and being in front of audiences. I really love the interaction with the audience and hearing how they react to tracks that I play and so on. Mixing is just something I really love.
X: We both started as DJs before we were doing things together. But I was leaning more towards producing music around the time that we started working together. So I said, okay, you can be the DJ in this project. Then I can focus more on the production. Of course we also work together on productions, too.
Unlike other duos, you are also coming together to overcome a disability since Anthony is blind and also losing his hearing. Fans are well aware of this, but it’s also easy to forget that you can’t see your decks, read messages from fans, or operate production software in its traditional sense. Can you shed a little light into how you interact with hardware, software, and fans to make your live sets so seamless?
A: Yeah, so, it’s very different for hardware and software. Hardware is relatively easy because it’s physical: it’s buttons, sliders, faders, and knobs. So hardware is very, very easy to interact with as long as it doesn’t have touchscreens. If it has touchscreens then it starts to get difficult because you have no idea what you’re interacting with.
Software for DJing and production, the most popular ones are not accessible. Rekordbox, for example, I won’t see or hear anything. So I just can’t use it and I need to look for alternatives. For DJing there’s really only one and that’s djay PRO from Algoriddim. And for production, there’s REAPER, Logic Pro and Pro Tools. But it’s still going to be a much slower process for me.
For example, if you want to try and get a good overview of a project that has like 95 tracks in it, it’s still going to be a difficult process when you are not seeing the complete overview of the tracks and you have to browse by them one by one. It’s still possible and I’m actually really happy that we are now in this status because let’s say, 5 or 10 years ago, it was a lot worse.
Anthony, if you enjoy the reaction of the audience so much, how are you finding the audience reaction on Twitch? Are you having comments read to you? How are you getting that reaction?
A: The screen reader on Twitch is reading incoming chat messages to me automatically. And sometimes it crashes, but that’s when I know the chat is fun because it means that there are so many chat messages it can’t keep up. And they are usually positive, so I like it when it crashes! It’s also fun because I can hear emotes. They each have their own codes and so when people say virtual hug virtual hug virtual hug this is something fun, you know!
Honestly, though, it’s hard to keep up with the chat while mixing because it’s so fast and of course the speech reader can never follow the pace. Sometimes there are five or more messages a second and the reader speaks like one message in 15 seconds depending on how long it is you so you can imagine. It’s hard to keep up with everything.
X: I mean, it can really get hard to keep up just watching the chats!
Much like how Dave Dresden has been the single livestreaming face of Gabriel & Dresden during isolation, Anthony has been the face of XiJaro & Pitch. What many don’t know is that Josh Gabriel is spending hours behind the scenes on song selections to tee Dave up each night. What’s happening with you guys behind the scenes that your fans don’t see when Anthony is livestreaming?
X: Well, the livestreams are all Anthony. I do review promos and send him some to play, but he’s really good at selecting the right music. So I’m mainly focused on making new music. I feel like my presence is at least a little bit felt through the original music that Anthony plays. And I look forward to when we can play some new stuff.
A: We also do get help from some other people. There are some really loyal fans that are moderating the chat or sometimes helping me with the visual setup of the stream. I’m really, really thankful that they’re there! And Xander’s brother is designing the emotes.
Music selection is important to me and I don’t prepare my shows. I just have this huge folder of tracks and then I select the music that I want to play on the spot. Sometimes that goes right and sometimes, you know, there is a little mistake. But it’s really really fun to play in this way where the next track is a constant unknown and you discover the journey as you’re making it.
It’s been fun tuning into the livestreams because half the time you just start playing to test something out or because you are just in the mood to play. Your Twitch fans perpetuate the joke that all of your sets are “just a test” yet some of those “tests” have run over seven hours! Why do you play for so long?
A: Why play so long? Because I’m having fun! I’ve always had a dream to play solo sets and take people on a personal journey. In the clubs before the Corona times you always had sets that were 60-90 minutes, maybe two hours. In these sets, you can only play so much and you have to play all your new music. So you have to be very specific.
Now when you’ve got seven, eight, or nine hours to play you can go deeper into each style that you like to play or maybe highlight different styles. I can take people across different emotions, different styles, different feels; across ups and downs across hard and smooth pieces of music. That’s really what I like about these longer sets and it seems appreciated by the audience right now.
Yes, it’s obvious to those watching that you are having a lot of fun! You’ve also nurtured a very special community that has gotten to know each other and become a family. Did you intend for the fans to bond like this? How do you feel about being the parents to such a global and diverse family?
A: When I started a few weeks ago I was streaming to 15-20 viewers and I was very happy. I was happy because I’ve been playing music for 15 years pretty much without any feedback. When you play for radio and online guest mixes and so on, you don’t really get much feedback. And now suddenly, with these 15 viewers, I was already so, so happy to get comments!
Then there was one night in which everything exploded. I got discovered by some people from Atlanta that are very dear to me now. Suddenly this whole thing started to form around me. Nothing was intended. I had no idea and no way to expect this would happen. But there’s almost no greater honor for an artist, for a DJ, than to see this growing around so organically. That just honors me and fills me with gratitude!
For all the fans get to see on the livestreams, many are very curious about Xander (XiJaro) since you aren’t seen in the livestreams yet you are clearly a big part of this movement. What are you focused on during the pandemic and what would you like to say to the fans that don’t get to see you?
X: Yeah. Because we’re in separate countries and we’re in lockdown we can’t join each other. Otherwise, maybe I would have joined him on the stream at some point. But yeah, I’m mostly focused on the production. It’s really, really great to hear all the wonderful feedback we’re getting whenever Anthony plays one of our tracks. That really motivates me to keep working on new stuff as well. I’m just very thankful for the comments. It’s so great to get that kind of feedback.
So we should expect some new music coming soon?
X: Yes, absolutely! We’re working on lots of new stuff. I can’t say when the next one will be yet. There’s a remix coming for sure, but that’s not all. More will follow.
Aside from live shows, what are you missing most in isolation? What’s the most important thing you need to do when things are relatively normal again?
A: Hanging out with friends. You’re gonna find this a bit interesting for a DJ, but my joy is not raving. I like raves a lot, and I miss them, too. That’s definitely something that I would like to do again – having a trance party and hearing the crowd around me. So that’s nice.
But the way I party most is just with a few friends at their homes or in a bar, just having a drink and chilling and talking about the sounds and the nonsense of life. Maybe some good music in the background, but it’s more about the connection and the conversation and, you know, just being together. That’s something I really miss a lot and I love so much and I’m looking forward to it again when we can do it.
X: Yeah, likewise. We used to do small parties with some friends and that’s even difficult nowadays. Luckily I can work on my music just the same as I always do because I’m just stuck in a room behind a computer working on music and it works perfectly fine in this situation as well.