On the fringe of Montreal’s music scene: APXO
APXO, a testimony that hard work can make dreams come true
The childhood home of Anthony Pounder—a cozy duplex in the borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where he grew up with his Sri Lankan and Italian grandparents—represents more to him than his heritage.
For Pounder, who is also known by his artist name APXO, it is the birthplace of his music and of a support system that allowed him to create.
APXO, a 28-year-old born and raised Montrealer, has lived in many countries like Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates, which provided him with a variety of musical and artistic inspirations.
However, APXO has been immersed in Montreal's rap, music and art scene for quite some time.
His two most recent projects, Side B and Part 1, are an accurate representation of APXO’s art. He carefully balances current popular musical elements, such as snappy, clever bars and bass-infused instrumentals, with his own spin and originality.
APXO describes his projects as art rather than music. “Because I try to do something different with each project, I wouldn’t say this is a rap record, or this is an R&B record, it’s really a mix,” he said.
APXO’s catalogue is varied, ranging from lo-fi and rap instrumentals to Spanish influences and even songs perfect for summer playlists like the aptly named “La Plage”. “I never want someone to tell me that this new song kind of reminds them of an older one that I did,” APXO said.
Songs like “Keeper” and “Currency” also display the artist’s knack for writing with profound and vulnerable lyrics, something he said felt very raw and honest, despite a little scary APXO admitted.
APXO’s producer Steven Gallipeau, also known as 808 Vybz, is a sound engineer who has produced music since 2018. The pair started working together around December 2021, and have developed a close friendship over the years. 808 Vybz produced a lot of APXO’s music, notably the songs “Crazy” and “Trapped” on the Side B EP.
“The studio sessions are almost like bonding time now,” said 808 Vybz. “I work with many different artists, but it’s not everyone I consider a close friend. He definitely became that. [...] Ever since our first studio session, I could tell that he was serious about his music, that feeling has been there from the start.”
APXO, described Side B as his first real project. “I really started taking music seriously about a year ago, I always had different projects in mind. This (Side B) is the first time a lot of the songs are mastered and a lot of work went into [it],” he explained.
“For a couple of years, he danced and he was really good at it. Then came the music; he would sing in the house and I would think, ‘Wow.’ He’s always been creating in some way.” — Shanti Pereira
APXO’s grandparents bore witness to the beginning of APXO’s music career. “He is so creative and extremely talented,” said Shanti Pereira, APXO’s grandmother, while sitting down at the dinner table while enjoying homemade food. “For a couple of years, he danced and he was really good at it. Then came the music; he would sing in the house and I would think, ‘Wow.’ He’s always been creating in some way.”
The couple have immense pride for their grandson, and both were instrumental pillars in APXO’s success.
“We raised that boy,” said Victor Peirera, APXO’s grandfather. “All he needs is a break because the talent is there.”
APXO, his grandparents, and 808 Vybz all have stories of APXO’s first-ever studio session.
“I pulled up with all my sound equipment to this apartment in Hochelaga,” 808 Vybz said.
“I had put up a mattress against the wall for sound and we recorded a whole EP in the back of my grandparent's house, in this tiny room. My grandma would come to feed us three meals a day,” APXO said, laughing.
Since 2022, APXO has released EPs, albums, and singles, but has also delved into and surrounded himself with many different artists from many different spheres.
After dropping his latest EP, Part One, on Nov. 1, APXO left for Switzerland. He describes the trip as an opportunity to work with many different artists from the country, and create as much art as possible. “The reason behind the Switzerland trip is to connect with different artists of different regions, different cultures, who speak different languages and have different goals,” APXO said in an Instagram post.
On Oct. 29, APXO hosted a pop-up event selling his clothing brand, Family Ties, to help finance his Switzerland trip.
The pop-up saw a good flow of supporters showing up to say their goodbyes. Other creators were also present, such as photographer Trust Hollywood; tattoo artist and painter The Hood Picasso, who was seen live painting; as well as painter and fashion designer Mckanzie Cyr
Tables of colorful hoodies and t-shirts were placed in the middle of the space, with APXO’s music playing in the background. Two jumpsuits, one designed by Cyr, were hanging on the wall next to some of The Hood Picasso's paintings.
“I wore this jumpsuit during my first performance ever in my life. It was in Switzerland, where I headlined a music festival,” said APXO. “I don’t know how I finessed them into letting someone who had never performed live before headline a festival with hundreds of people, but I did it,” APXO added, laughing.
As of now, APXO has left for Switzerland and will continue to make art and will be back. “I am going to the end of my days with this,” the artist said, this being his music, his dream.
After years of hard work and determination, APXO has quality projects under his belt, with more to come in the future.
“It was not talent that brought me here, it was the fear of not being good at things and proving people wrong,” APXO said.
This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 7, published November 28, 2023.