‘xiv’ reflects on being a first-generation Malaysian-Singaporean musician

7 March 2022 / by Teresa Valenton
Ethan Lowe (XIV) looking towards the left of the image

Despite the difficulties of pursuing creative careers as an Asian-American, Ethan Low has pushed through barriers to pursue music. The Toronto-based artist known as ‘xiv’ bases his identity on the meaning of his name, excuses and entity. In having these words embedded into his artist identity, Low seeks to hold himself accountable to achieve creative fulfillment, rather than excusing plans, he pushes himself to action.  

With a big emphasis on music as a means of expression, Low wants to inspire others through his passions. In taking on this responsibility, he hopes his fans can believe in their own dreams to achieve their goals as well.

Taking inspiration from Asian artists throughout his career such as Keshi and DPR live, his sound reflects  smooth R&B. Though his identity as an Asian-Canadian has shaped the outcome of his music, he encourages younger generations to step outside of their comfort zones. 

With over 19,593 monthly listeners on Spotify, Low has cultivated a dedicated fanbase. Over the last two years, he has released six singles with his latest release “On You” in Oct. 2021. Much of his lyrics are grounded in melancholy, as Low strives for listeners to enjoy his music with similar atmospheres. 

Low speaks over Zoom about his motivations, Asian-Canadian identity, upbringing and recent album release. 

Teresa Valenton: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music? 

xiv: I’ve always wanted to do music, but more so started off as a hobby in high school. Going into university I was doing something completely different than music, and it wasn’t until after a few internships that I realized this isn’t where I pictured myself going. I wanted to pursue something more creative and fulfilling so I started to take music more seriously at that point. 

Valenton: In your interview with MA: E magazine you discussed the potential genre ‘’Asian-American music”, can you elaborate on your identity as an Asian-American in your music? 

xiv: My parents always pushed me into doing stuff that was more academically centred. They always thought of music as just a hobby. I feel like Asian Americans are very distant on the outside, I experienced a lot of it between what I wanted and what they wanted. 

Valenton: How has the generational gap between your upbringing and pursuing music as a career shaped your outlook?

xiv: I knew what was good for myself, but they [parents] didn’t really understand that at the moment. Now it’s kind of switched because they can see the results coming in and me being able to provide for myself. I think once Asian parents, or parents in general, see how much something makes their children happy and how passionate they are about it, they begin to accept it.

Valenton: Can you talk more about your upcoming album?

xiv: My upcoming album will be released on March 1. It’s going to come out with a music video as well. It’s going to be released under the label United Common Records. It’s also a collaboration with one of my friends, his name is ‘biosphere’. This album is going to be very unexpected, we tried to do a lot of different things on that album and I hope people go into it with an open mind and create.

Interview edited for length and clarity