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Xelli Island and Her New Release "02 20 20" and the Influence of Her Emotions


Xelli Island, neé Lianna Vanicelli, recently showed up on our radar, but we have a feeling she’s going to be here to stay. She’s a dreamy pop singer / songwriter that has a magnetic connection to emotions and knows hows to exude those passions through her craft. At the age of 14, she was the front woman of a band, but later traveled on her own solo endeavors as she came to better understand her sound and artistic direction.

The half-Filipina and half-Italian singer is originally from Detroit and then eventually made her trek to Los Angeles in 2017 with nothing but contagious energy and a dream. Coming from a hard-working family, she understood the meaning of hustling and gratitude early on, which truly helped her in the end as she pursued this path of music. She uses her music as a way of better displaying herself.

The project that is to come is a bundle of Xelli’s sincerest thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Throughout the process, she worked closely with producer and long-time friend, Jon Zott. The two have been co-producing and co-writing the songs since summer of 2019 alongside bassist and multi-instrumentalist, Mathew Hofman.

With every song she writes, she creates a story that is personal, relatable, and primal. The song's come innately from her own imagination, and what she does best is let her intuition take the wheel and steer the direction of the music. “02 20 20” is the first single from this debut EP, that will arrive later this year. She has described the EP as her “life’s work.” In this single that we’re featuring today, we get glimpse into what to expect. With fun beats and melancholy melodies that remind you of something from the 80’s (think artists like Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper), we are pleasantly surprised by the haunting, vivid sound of the song. It’s a refreshing sound that takes a different path than the usual pop-electronic tunes today, but still falls in line with favorites like Little Dragon and Grimes. It’s hypnotic, eerie, and mystical in ways with her layered and distorted vocals, almost as if we’re on a safari adventure in a whole other world. This is why we felt like featuring this artist, because Xelli shared with us really something unique.

Here is our interview:

Channel Sounds [CS]: Tell me more about "02 20 20," where did the inspiration come from?

Xelli Island [XI]: “I was really inspired by the feeling of serendipity; how I got to where I am with who is around me and my life. I was having one of those beautiful days where I felt really amazed at how many tiny things have to work together in order for anything to happen. I was just riding the train to my waitressing job. It’s about appreciating both the really simple things in our lives and also the complex, more complicated, and divine things."

[CS]: How did the stage name come about?

[XI]: “It’s a combination of the latter half of my Italian last name and of my Filipino side being spiritually connected to islands. It took some time to come up with but it really feels like me. Also, I like the idea of having my own island >:)”

[CS]: How has music fueled your ability to channel your self-expression?

[XI]: “I’ve been making music for a really long time so my music really just feels like an extension of myself. It forces me to sink in to emotions and afterthoughts from experiences. Finding ways to express those things in my own language is my favorite thing about making music and what makes me feel so connected to it.”

[CS]: What can fans expect from this upcoming EP of yours?

[XI]: “5 sentimental songs from the deep, deep depths of my heart!! Haha. But really, it’s an EP about love in all aspects. It’s emotional and nostalgic but also a little quirky.”

[CS]: What is your detour?

[XI]: “Lately I’ve been painting cute blobs all over unused objects I found in my house. Like old plant pots, containers, and teacups.”

[CS]: In one word, how would you describe yourself?

[XI]: “Sentimental.”


Thanks Xelli for this awesome chat! We’re excited to hear more soon!


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