“I feel like what I want is for people to do what they want to do. Walk in whatever lane they want to walk in and just be comfortable and confident,” said Jordan Holmes, who raps under the moniker DXTR Spits.
An engineer and scientist by day, Holmes claims he takes a scientific approach to his music. “Being an engineer and having that systematic approach to things helps with my songwriting because I’m able to think in structure, arrangement, and composing. They are more tied together then people think,“ he offered. “That’s what makes song construction. I apply the same logic from my engineering field to my work in the arts.”
Holmes said he brainstorms and maps the story he wants to tell with each album, track by track. Then, he starts to search for beats already created or have producers make music for the record which aligns with that initial vision. Later, he begins writing the lyrics. “I kind of weave (science and the arts) together and they’ve kind of grown together as part of my image now,” he said.
After growing up in the DMV area and graduating from Virginia Tech in 2014, Holmes relocated to Chicago to grow his music from solo experiments previously reserved for his ears only. Finding a balance between his daytime work and his creative pursuits has not been difficult for Holmes, who said coming to Chicago helped him maintain the motivation it takes to pursue one’s art. He describes the city as resilient. “Chicago doesn’t back down. If anything, it faces things heads on,” he said. “It goes beyond the arts community. It’s part of the culture of the city to grind it out.”
For Holmes, staying resilient means maintaining internally coaching himself to stay motivated and utilizing self-care tools. Pursuing anything in the arts, he said, requires keeping an eye on your Northstar. “You have to pick your Northstar and consistently remind yourself what that Northstar is,” Holmes offered. “So when things crash and burn, which they often do, you’ll at least have an answer for it and keep moving forward.”
His upcoming projects include a collaborative release with local artist Chai Tulani and a solo album, scheduled for release in early 2019. But before that, fans old and new can catch Holmes at one of his “Mad Scientist” shows. “My motto is to live life like an experiment,” Holmes began. “These shows are a full embodiment of that.”
The highly curated performances operate like a lab experiment gone wrong in the best possible way. Holmes takes over a venue with his own unique lighting and props to transform the environment into a place where people can “be weird,” aka just be themselves. “I want people to come into the space of a Mad Scientist show and not worry about somebody looking at how you dance or somebody looking at your clothes or something else,” he offered. “I want you to turn up and not worry.”
Britt Julious is a freelance writer.
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Cole’s Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tickets: Free (21+); www.eventbrite.com