Songs Unspoken

Xavly’s first album Exit mixes personal struggles with electronic tones

Measha Vieth |

DON’T TEASE THE KEYS. Austin Steinke wrote his first album Exit after experiencing the end of a friendship.
DON’T TEASE THE KEYS. Austin Steinke wrote his first album Exit after experiencing the end of a friendship.

One day in 2015 a friendship ended. The next day, Austin Steinke found himself writing about it in the Books a Million parking lot. This day was just the beginning of Steinke’s music project, Xavly, and his first album, Exit. Looking up to well known Eau Claire artists such as Bon Iver and S. Carey, Steinke was inspired to create something of his own. Along the way he grew musically and formed new friendships, some of which can be found featured in the album.

Exit takes the listener on a journey through the eyes of a young man trying to find himself in the real world, all while wrestling personal demons. Sound Engineer Justin Andersen worked on the album with Steinke out of his home studio. He says the songs are about questioning yourself and why people think of you the way they do. Steinke tried to communicate feelings he couldn’t talk about through the music while he worked to move past them. The stories within the lyrics are what make this electronic style album stand out.

At the beginning listeners experience Steinke’s nostalgia in “’97 Brunzlick” and “Shine” as he reminisces about a trucking road trip with his father. Then the album turns to a more aggressive tone while adding local rapper, Fathom, for vocals on “Rams & Sheep,” and “Haywire” with guest vocals by rapper Billy Ballads. Later songs like “Color My World,” sung by local musician Alyssa Thoms with back-up vocals by Rachel Dillaman, leave the listener with a positive feeling as the album comes to a close.

Words at times are difficult to find, but this project helped push Steinke’s self-expression in a new way. “My voice is only on half of the songs,” Steinke said. “That’s what really pulled me into music. There are some things you can’t put into words. I tried to let the sounds speak for me.”

The album took Steinke about a year and a half to create. He learned a lot about the process while working with Andersen along the way. “I had a lot of fun with this album personally, just because Steinke really let me also be creative. You know I felt like he would have this foundation, essentially the song, and then I would try to make his message more pronounced,” Andersen said.

Listeners are sure to discover a range of stories, emotions, and sweet electronic arrangements in Exit. Xavly – Exit is available on Spotify and Bandcamp at Physical copies can be purchased at The Local Store.