Colson XL Wants to Keep the Beats A Little Weird
Harrison Andrews and Cole Arvidson's friendship has spanned almost two decades. Through elementary school, college, and several moves, the Bostonian duo’s friendship has remained consistent. Together they make up the genre-bending electronic music project, Colson XL.
Since initially debuting in 2019, Colson XL has seen a meteoric rise from the underground dance music scene. In the last several years, the pair has collected co-signs and coveted releases on imprints of the likes of Sable Valley, Quality Good Records, Elysian Records, Phuture Collective, and Bonsai Collective. It’s no surprise as the two East Coasters’—now Austin transplants—fun-loving and down-to-earth personalities resonate with the many who follow them.
The best friends, who since the early aughts had loved tinkering with the sounds of electronic dance music, founded the project to experiment with the music they enjoyed—much of which included elements featured in future bass, trap, indie electronica, and house.
Colson XL’s extroverted half, Cole Arvidson, first began producing music in college. “It wasn’t something I took so seriously,” said Arvidson. “I’d been listening to music heavily pretty much my entire life. It wasn’t until sophomore or junior year that we both put our heads together and said hey, we should make music.”
Until that pivotal point, the bedroom producers had been experimenting with music production separately but frequently sharing ideas and talking shop.
“One of my earliest introductions into electronic music was Radiohead and later on, artists like Memba,” said Arvidson. “I listened to a lot of non-electronic stuff like Linkin Park and Three Doors Down when I first started getting into music, and some of it was entirely my father’s fault. He was the one who actually put me onto Nickelback.”
“I have memories of you and me driving around with either your mom or your dad and you just singing Nickelback like it was going to save your life,” recalled Andrews—Colson XL’s friendly, albeit introverted other half.
During their formative years, both producers recollected listening to a lot of punk and alt-rock music by bands Sum41 and Blink 182, and plenty of classic rock via Cole’s dad.
“But the more electronic side of Radiohead turned me onto artists like SBTRKT, Jacques Greene, Jamie XX, Kaytranada, Aluna George…I was in tune to the wave of music that was put out around 2012, right before trap took off,” said Andrews. “It’s funny…most of what inspired us then you won’t be able to hear in what we make these days. But it’s still what makes me want to make music today.”
For Andrews, Caribou, Kaytranada’s earlier works, and Aluna George’s first album were all instrumental in influencing the music he produces with Cole as a duo today.
“There are some incredible artists at the forefront of underground electronic music right now, bridging genres like Quiet Bison, IMANU, Knock2, Juelz,” he said. “And we’re similar to the extent that we combine several genres to release something that sounds kinda weird, or genre-bending, but catchy in its own way.”
“That’s a signature Colson XL thing,” added Arvidson. “It’s gotta be a little weird.”
A year into pursuing music seriously, the producers continued to put out more and more releases—simultaneously generating a vast online following—as they waited for venues to open back up in Los Angeles, post-COVID lockdown.
Fortunately, the duo then moved to Texas and began to book shows, gaining more practical experience DJing and elevating their bedroom producing by several tiers.
“In college, I never DJ’ed for people,” explained Andrews. “I would sit down with my laptop in my lap & I’d have Virtual DJ open and make transitions. I was doing that long before I started producing, and it was a hobby then—just for me, just for fun.”
Now, three years into the Colson XL project, the fully-fledged producers have rocked the stages of Lights All Night, and opened for Cheyenne Giles, Habstrakt, and Mr. Carmack. They’re gearing up to make their ILLFest debut this September in a special B2B performance with electronic dance music peer and Bonsai Collective label head, Capshun.
“We’re super lucky in every aspect,” said Andrews. “Whether that be in person at our shows or online, we have a really supportive network of friends who continue to come out and support us. Every show we play it feels like we’re playing to friends and family.”