Angel X Star is a brother-sister duo, who are bringing their vision to the world of R&B Having had their first headline show in Birmingham and off the back of their latest single ‘Sei,’ they’ve had a pretty successful 2022.
After a brief wait for Star to arrive, we got straight into the interview as we discussed the experimentation in their music and the experience of the first headline show for Angel X Star.
As a brother/sister duo, is it easier for you to write music together and suggest new ideas or change the way a song’s going?
Star: Yeah, I definitely think it’s easier because we’re able to bounce ideas. (We’re able to) help when writing a verse. The whole songwriting process is much easier because we can help each other write better lyrics and create better melodies.
Angel: 100% I agree. It’s so much better in a team.
What experience did performing in church, and acting from a young age give you that you’ve used to help elevate your career in music?
Angel: I think it’s the confidence. Performing in a church from a young age, you’re just around people, in front of older people as well and everyone’s just looking at you. I think it’s different now because it’s more of a confidence thing, we can stand in front of people and still do our own thing, without (the idea of performing live) really being all in your head. Obviously, different crowds and different audiences can still make you a bit nervous. But, that backbone of performing in Church is always the one, especially for us. It’s helped us a lot and we’ve gone into performing art schools. That also played a part in our confidence, our creativity.
Star: I think it’s just an experience we didn’t know was going to help us in the future. Just performing in Church was just something we did every Sunday. We didn’t know we were going to use it as something to build our career off.
You’ve got used to performing in front of people and in bigger crowds. Do you think that helped you when you started to perform live, and give you a better idea of how you wanted to project yourselves to an audience?
Star: Definitely and how to navigate on stage.
Angel: Yeah and how to carry yourself as a performer on stage, something as simple as looking in people’s eyes, rather than looking down. It connects with the audience, it’s something as simple as that. It’s helped us a lot.
I noticed your take on R’n’B has influences from Trap beats and Afrobeats. Do you think we could ever see you in the future crossover R’n’B with other genres of music?
Star: Most definitely, as I like to think we’re quite versatile and we don’t like to limit ourselves or put ourselves in one genre. That’s something we’re working on and we’ve got a lot of songs that are quite versatile and cross with other genres. We can’t wait to release those and show our versatility.
Angel: One thing you won’t catch me doing is rapping, as I can’t rap to save my life. (laughs) But, I would love to work on a Rap song, but it’s difficult. I would rather stick to making melodies. We definitely love the indie side of the industry: indie-pop; indie music; jazz music. Growing up in church, I grew up playing the trumpet, so I was influenced by the Jazz side of things. I would love to put that into my music in the future and I love instruments: the trumpet, the trombone, all these brass instruments that we’ve learnt from our church background and incorporated into crossing over into other genres.
It sounds like people can expect a lot of different sounds from you which is going to make you stand out in R’n’B, as it’s a packed genre and you have to be doing something unique or standing out there to get that across. It’s also got to be true to you which is very important.
I get what you mean about the rapping. I was at Karaoke the other day and I was thinking ‘how do they do this without pausing for breath?’
Angel: (laughs) Honestly, it’s difficult.
We’ve touched upon your sound and what influences you might put into it. What artist would you like to collaborate with that would fit your musical vision?
Angel: From the UK R’n’B scene, we’d love to work with Bellah. Bellah is doing great, she’s killing it. Her pen game is crazy. Shaé Universe she’s doing sick as well; Mnelia.
Star: There are other artists we would like to work with, but those are the main ones at that moment.
Those are good choices and interestingly, those are other artists who experiment with R’n’B. They mix it with other genres. Shaé Universe does R’n’Drill, so I can see that fitting with your vision because you both like to experiment with the R’n’B genre and take it to new places.
Angel: We’ll see what the future holds, but that could be exciting.
The track ‘Sei’ sees you speak in English and Shona, which for people that don’t know is a language that originates in Zimbabwe. Was it important for you to be able to do the song in both languages and put across your feelings and your perspective?
Star: With the way that we write and the way we formulate our songs; it wasn’t even planned, it just happened naturally. As we were making the song, we started integrating it with Shona as well, and then we saw that this actually makes sense, this is quite beautiful and then we went ahead with it. It just came natural to us. Before we knew it, the song was complete and we were like ‘oh this is beautiful that we’re integrating both the British and Zimbabwean culture into this.’ As you said, we love experimenting and we experimented with this song and the song came out quite beautiful.
Angel: I think it’s also more of an identity thing. We’re not Nigerian and when you listen to the Wizkids; the Burna Boys; the Davidos, they incorporate their language into the song and people are vibing and singing to it, and they have been doing it for years. We’re not going to put all the Nigerian languages in our song, as we’re not Nigerian. We just had to dig (and say) ‘where are we from,’ and find some sort of identity within that and relate it to our music. Hence why we did that in the single and it turned out great.
This is your first release of 2022, but for the year as a whole, have you reached your goals yet, and if not what is left for you to achieve this year?
Angel: Yes and no. We’ve always wanted to do a show and we did our first ever headline show in The Telson Centre in Birmingham, which was a really good show, it sold out. It was very much a leap of faith man, we just threw ourselves in the deep end and it ended up being a really great one. I think that was always one of our goals, which we have achieved and (are) happy about. In regards to other stuff, it’s a 50/50 answer for that one.
Star: I feel as an artist, you always want more. We’ve achieved having our first headline show, but I feel like there’s a lot more to achieve. There’s a long way to go. I think we’re doing well at the moment, but there’s definitely more that we want to do.
It’s always good to set your goals high, as that means you can keep building up and achieving more and more as time goes on. Having your first headline show that’s a big thing. As someone from Birmingham, I know the Birmingham crowds are good and very appreciative of Music. I imagine that was a good experience for yourselves.
Angel: It was amazing. We’d definitely like to do another one in Birmingham, that was a different feel.
What was different about it compared to other shows you have done?
Angel: I think just the response. Even when we were promoting the show, we had event people from Birmingham reach out to us, and try to help us with the show. We appreciated that because it’s not something we had even thought about. Then there was the people turning up. It’s one thing to plan something. Getting a result from it, it’s a totally different thing. You can plan something and get a bad result. But, this one people really attended and that was the week when the train strikes were moving crazy, and (it was) Glastonbury weekend. Even with all those train strikes, people came which was amazing. As an artist, it warms our heart as it’s like ‘wow, we’re clearly doing something right.’ (laughs)
I remember that week and a lot of artists either delayed shows or put off releasing music that week. For you to do that and it still goes well, it’s good and it shows that the music is coming through. In terms of support, was it the staff at the venue?
Angel: A bit of both. There were Instagram pages or those people who help with tourist people, they provide information for that and new stuff to do in Birmingham. They have Instagram pages and they reached out to us and they put out ‘there’s a live show on Friday (June 24th) from this artist.’ The people from the actual venue did a Live and Facebook posts. It was very lovely of them to support us, and have our back towards that show.
I feel from the time I have been in the Music Journalism sector people are for the most part good. You are going to get the odd person who’s not very supportive and just trolling and taking the mickey a bit. The majority of people within the Music sector are quite supportive. It’s a very ‘together’ sort of sector, especially in R’n’B. That’s good that people are out there supporting your stuff.
Star: It was lovely.
My final question for you. Which upcoming artist are you listening to right now and what advice would you give them?
Angel: They are people that aren’t really upcoming, upcoming. I’m looking through my playlist right now. I listen to Odeal, but I’d want him to give me advice. (laughs) I guess the advice I would give him is to release more music because he’s really good.
Star: That’s a good question, as you mentioned they’re not really upcoming, but not fully mainstream yet. I’ve been listening to this guy called Tendai and he’s released 3/4 songs. I would personally give him the advice to maybe release more songs. With me, when I find new music, the first thing I do is go on their Instagram or social media, to see what they’re up to, what they’re doing. I feel like he doesn’t give me much on his Instagram to see what type of person he is. Maybe my advice to him is can you show us more of your life, so we can feel more connected to you.
Angel: I listen to some of our friends who do music. I’ll shout out the people who when we did the headline show, they opened up for us. We’ve got Vimbai-Rose, she’s amazing, she’s releasing an EP. LA NUCCI, who’s another rapper and amazing as well. Those are upcoming artists in our circle that we can say we listen to at the moment. I guess the advice I would give them is don’t give up because they are really good at what they do.
Star: Honestly, they don’t know the impact they are making, even to their audience. They are going to make it.
That’s good advice as making it in the music industry can be difficult and it sometimes takes a few years, sometimes half a decade, 10 years. You will get to where you want eventually with hard work, it’s just sometimes you have to just keep going and going. As you said, music is very powerful and people feel it in their hearts and their thoughts. It takes them to lots of different places emotionally. Even if somebody’s only got 100 listeners, 1 of those 100 their music could mean something massive to them.
I think with what was said at the start about showing a bit more about them, I can agree with that. Obviously, it’s people’s private life, it is what they choose to do. But, when people do tend to show a bit more about how they made the music and going to the studio or what inspired them, that allows people to relate to them a bit more, and have a bit more foresight into the music.
Angel: We know you guys are busy and working. This opportunity we really appreciate it, and to get our voices out there and share our work. We do appreciate the support so far man.