Kansas City musician pure xtc takes center stage

Taylor Hughes, also known as pure xtc. (WTF Publicity)

Zackary Zeller

Kansas City musician pure xtc has jumped into the local spotlight with the release of her latest single, “Bad Dreams,” on Sept. 10. The single is a haunting track that features atmospheric vocals and a booming synth hook that captivates the ear. According to pure xtc, real name Taylor Hughes, the song was created to evoke imagery of being in the Lower East Side of New York City

“I just wanted the listener to feel like they were coming out of the bar standing outside in the rain seeing neon lights,” Hughes said.

The chorus boasts somber lyrics evoking the feeling of abruptly waking from a sweat-ridden nightmare. 

“I have been having bad dreams about you. All the stupid things you tried to drag me through,” she sings. “A premonition or a curse, your evil lies. The way you laugh when I want to cry. I hope you have bad dreams.” 

Hughes’ stage persona, pure xtc, was born out of a period when she found herself isolated and creatively stifled. Hughes, a Baltimore native, has been happy to dive headfirst back into the music scene in Kansas City after spending a year in New York City to reconnect and find herself outside of the world of music. 

Hughes has previously played the drums for bands like EXNATIONS and Car Party over the past decade. Now, she will premier her debut solo project “Nobody’s Home” under the name pure xtc on Nov. 12. 

The upcoming EP touches on topics such as mental health and the ways in which Hughes realizes unhealthy behaviors and navigates through them. Each track on this experimental EP is crafted with the intent of being stylistically unique while conjuring the feeling of being caught in a gloomy twilight zone.  

In preparation for the release of her debut EP, pure xtc released an official trailer to tease the future project. The trailer follows the story of what Hughes describes as the “darkest year of her life.” This brief snippet showcases the spiral she faced in 2019: dealing with a breakup, moving to New York City and starting a new tour, all while her mother was battling cancer. Hughes described the feeling as being “isolated in a 10×10 room inside a city full of strangers.” 

As a member of the LGBTQ community herself, Hughes said she strives to gain visibility and representation through her music, and that Kansas City has more space for someone like her than New York. 

“As a solo artist it’s my decision to do everything how I want and I’m going to be gay, loud, and proud,” Hughes said. “The queer scene is so inviting here, Kansas City opens up to you with welcoming arms.” 

Listen to “Bad Dreams” on pure xtc’s YouTube channel and keep an eye out for the release of her upcoming EP “Nobody’s Home” Nov. 12. 

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