It’s no secret that many R&B lovers still prefer the feel and style of old-school R&B over the new mainstream sound. However, there is nothing better than when new artists manage to take that feeling we so love, give it their own different twist, and make it sound fresh. CVIRO (pronounced Cairo) and GXNXVS (pronounced Genius), a soulful vocalist and clever producer duo based in Australia, effortlessly embody and evolve the sound of traditional R&B/Soul. Being inspired by artists such as Tank, Jagged Edge, Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, and many more of our favorites, it’s no wonder they popped up on our radar. The nostalgic yet futuristic songs off their newest EP Come On In, which manages to embrace that 2000s R&B sound without making it feel forced or copied, really caught our attention. From being newly signed to Red Bull Records to even securing a Jon B. feature, it is clear that these stars are on the rise.
We had the chance to talk to C&G (the name of which this duo released their EP under) about their journey thus far, the making of their new EP, their goals for the future, and much more. Anyone searching for what’s missing from R&B, look no further. It can be found within this duo’s discography.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What inspired you guys to start making music? In particular, what artists did?
CVIRO: To make a long story short, I kind of grew up around it. So like my parents immigrated here from Iraq. My dad was in a band, he did mostly covers. From his side I heard Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, all that kind of 70s stuff. Then from my mom’s side, my aunties and my cousins loved Jagged Edge, 112, Donnell Jones, Boys II Men, Tupac. Had an uncle that was kind of a famous Arabic singer. His son was kind of poppin’ as an R&B singer in Sydney. My sister sings, I had a cousin that sang, so I kind of just grew up around it.
GXNXVS: Shit, man. I just randomly started making beats when I was in high school. Just didn’t stop. That’s pretty much it *laughs*. I didn’t have any musical background or anything like that. It was just making beats instead of playing games.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Together you guys have been doing this since like 2014- ish right? Tell me the story of how you guys first met. Were you both doing your own solo thing?
CVIRO: We met maybe before that, to be honest. Basically, I grew up around singers. I was producing in high school as well, so I just wanted to be a producer to start off with. Outside of high school I was still producing, I was DJing and also had a radio show. Then a couple years into that I kind of got sick of it, and I built the courage up to be an artist. I started working on my own project and halfway through that project I met Jordan (GXNXVS) randomly through a friend. It was just like some SoundCloud shit. He came through halfway through it, took over the production and let me concentrate on the singing and the writing aspect of everything. We just started working then. Haven’t stopped since.
YouKnowIGotSoul: First song I ever heard from you two was “Twisted” back in 2018 off the first EP, but I feel like you guys really started blowing up after your second EP The Sequel in 2020. Tell me about this journey after The Sequel and what led up to this release now in 2022.
GXNXVS: The main thing was just figuring out how we were gonna release it and working through a bunch of songs. And figuring out how we were gonna do it with a label for the first time. So it was kind of just a big process of making heaps of songs, cutting them down, getting features and shit sorted and yeah, eventually, getting to this point.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I came across an article where you mentioned you two had a whole lot of songs, so you were just making these songs during that two year gap I assume. What made you decide to cut it down to this small amount of songs? Was there a certain motive behind that?
CVIRO: I think we had like, like 30 or 40 songs, something like that. Yeah, so the next project’s gonna be the album. So we wanted to hit them with like one more EP and seven just felt right to us.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s jump into the making of Come On In. We already know the inspiration is coming from the 90s and 2000s, but who were you guys listening to that influenced the sounds on it?
CVIRO: I feel like for this particular project we kind of dive more into the mid to early 2000’s, like say 2000-2005. The previous two projects were more heavily 90s influenced I feel. For this one in particular, for me, I was listening to the first two Tank albums, old Tyrese albums, Marques Houston, bunch of Jagged Edge. Yeah, kind of heavily 2002-2005 R&B.
GXNXVS: I felt like it was a ‘different for every song’ kind of thing for me in terms of the feel of where I wanted to take it. Like Daniel (CVIRO) said, Marques Houston, Jermaine Dupri production, always Timbaland as well, cause he is the GOAT. Every song kind of had a few specific references or like “feels” that I wanted to sort of get, then we just figure out how to combine that feel.
CVIRO: Yeah a lot of them, if you go through individual tracks, are pretty obvious as well, you know what I mean?
YouKnowIGotSoul: Yeah I was gonna say the first track is like Timbaland production straight out. That’s kind of leading me to this next question, how do you guys come up with these songs? What’s your process?
CVIRO: Most of the time I’ve written the song and cut it to like a loop or something basic and then take it to Jordan (GXNXVS) and we build the production around whatever’s been written. Whatever I’m drawing the inspiration from or he’s drawing the inspiration from beat-wise, we kind of encapsulate ourselves in that feeling.
YouKnowIGotSoul: GXNXVS, how do you make these productions sound so new when it’s being inspired by something so old? How do you make it sound fresh?
GXNXVS: I listen to a lot of new shit too. Like a lot of different shit. A lot of rap stuff when I’m just on my own time and then that sort of just seeps through. The goal is not to make something that sounds exactly the same as something else. I want it to sound new and sound fresh, just like have that feeling from the old stuff, but not necessarily sound like it.
CVIRO: I feel like that’s where we find our balance. I’ll bring in a lot of older references and Jordan (GXNXVS) will always come with the newer references, and we kind of blend the worlds.
YouKnowIGotSoul: My favs off the EP are: Can’t Live Without You, Too Much, and Nasty. What are your favorites from Come On In?
GXNXVS: I think my favorite off the project would be “Hot Minute”. I just feel like it’s the most different one on the record personally. And I just like the rap verse and that feel, so yeah that’s my favorite one right now. But it changes.
CVIRO : Yeah, mine also changes. But, I gotta say “Brokenhearted”, just cus’ I got the chance to work with Jon B. He’s a legend. And right now I really enjoy performing and listening to “Sex With You”. So yeah, it changes week to week, but right now, that’s where we’re at.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Speaking of “Brokenhearted”, I know that you’ve gotten the comparison to Jon B. over the years and that he’s an inspiration to you. What did it mean to you for that song to happen?
CVIRO : Man, to be honest, we linked up just talking over a Zoom like this. Just talking to him and playing him a bunch of our records. It was just the most surreal moment. We played him that particular joint “Brokenhearted” and just the way he reacted to it and the feeling that we were trying to evoke in that song, even some of the references that he said, like I remember him saying “This reminds me of a H-town joint”, which was what I was listening to specifically at the time I was making that song. He basically said, let me jump on this. Just the nod of approval and his acknowledgement of what we’re doing meant everything to me. It’s a big deal for me. Probably one of the biggest deals so far in my career.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I gotta know how that happened. How did Jon B. get on that Zoom call?
CVIRO: Basically the comparisons have been made for a few years now. My former manager who’s in the States, I don’t know if he knew him or they randomly met up or something, but I think he showed him our music and said ‘you guys need to chop it up’. And it kind of just happened organically like that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Who are some other OG artists and producers that are on both of your bucket lists to work with?
GXNXVS: First one would be Darkchild, in terms of producers. Darkchild, Timbaland and Storch would be the top bucket list right now. Artist-wise, I’d love to get in with Mario, Tank and I wanna see a new song from Ginuwine low-key.
CVIRO: I mean, I’m gonna agree with that list for sure. To add to it, I’d love to do a joint with Joe, anyone from 112, Donell Jones, Jagged Edge. I know they just did a joint with DVSN, but I don’t know, I low-key think we can make something crazy with them. Faith Evans, Monica, any of that caliber artist from that era I would be honored to work with. Also in terms of production, like I’ve seen the list of writers and producers that have been on your guys’ channel man. Some of ’em I wasn’t really familiar with since they’re more low-key, but there’s a bunch that I’d love to work with.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Yeah man, I appreciate you mentioning that. We try to highlight a lot of people who are behind the scenes. Everybody you guys listed, I can see their influences in your music. I gotta mention Faith Evans again CVIRO cus’ I saw you picked her debut album on our best debut album in 1995 IG poll. That’s when I knew, these guys got it. You’re picking that Faith Evans debut album? You gotta have something special. You know what I’m saying?
CVIRO: One of my favorites, man. Like I always say it to Jordan (GXNXVS), the day I meet her bro, I’m gonna bow down cus’ she’s the queen for real.
YouKnowIGotSoul: GXNXVS, I noticed there was a remix for Mario you made. Just tell me a little bit about how that happened.
GXNXVS: Oh, the Mario remix. Yeah, that was a few years ago. That was also the same dude who did the Jon B thing and set that up. I just got sent the vocals and got a chance to work on it. It was kinda like, “Send whatever you got and then they’ll decide if they’ll put it out” and Mario fucked with it. So that was kind of it. I’ve spoken to him a little bit, but, yeah I’m definitely keen to work on an original for sure.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s go back to Come on In. Jean Deaux, is another feature you had. I have to know how that song (“Nasty”) came together. Why was Jean Deaux picked as the feature?
CVIRO: We kind of had the song done. I had a 3rd verse on there and I think Jordan (GXNXVS) and I were just like both saying this needs a rap verse and we felt like a female touch would be perfect for it. I think GXNXVS actually suggested Jean Deaux.
GXNXVS: Yeah initially we wanted Bia on it. The next thing was, we told our A&R that we wanted Jean Deaux and he sent her team the record and she vibed and just did it. So there wasn’t a lot of communication between us. It was kinda like we sent a song over and we got the verse back and then that was kinda the vibe. And then we liked it, so decided to run with it.
CVIRO: It was like we sent it, we got the verse back in a week. So it was all real quick as well. And she killed that shit.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You mentioned that the album’s coming, but what’s the next goals for 2023?
CVIRO: Touring. We’re gonna be out in LA all of February working on the album. So we want to link with the right people when we’re out there. Just do it bigger and better this coming year.
GXNXVS: Yeah, [the goal is to] make sure we get some of these people that we spoke about in the studio when we’re over in LA. That’s the main goal for me. And then I think whatever else happens after that is just gonna happen.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What’s the Australian R&B scene like? Is there a lot of stuff that’s sounding this particular way? or would you guys say you have your own sound still?
CVIRO: Just in terms of sound, I don’t think many people in the world are doing what we’re doing. So like in Australia, not really what we’re doing, but there is a lot of dope R&B. In particular the females, a lot of females doing it big right now in Australia.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You mentioned that you guys were independent. When/How did you guys get signed between the two EPs?
GXNXVS: It was in between Covid when it happened. It was through an A&R, Charles Burkes that we had been in contact with for a few years. I think he was at a different label, it might have been Universal or something. When he moved over to Red Bull, he reached out and we had just put out The Sequel. The talk sort of started happening around that time, early 2021.
Rapid Questions (check video for full answers)
Favorite album (right now)?
CVIRO: Intro (1993) – Intro
GXNXVS: Ginuwine… the Bachelor (1996) – Ginuwine
Favorite song off that album?
CVIRO: “Let Me Be the One” – Intro
GXNXVS: “I’ll Do Anything” – Ginuwine
Favorite Jon B Song?
CVIRO: Stronger Everyday (Full Album)
GXNXVS: “Don’t Say” – Cool Relax
New-School artist you want to work with?
CVIRO: Lucky Daye
Top artist you want to write for?
Top artist you want to produce for?