Back when Pxtn had vowels in his name, the pop singer born Paxton Ingram first found fame as a contestant on The Voice. Six years after being judged by Blake Shelton and Pharrell, Pxtn tells New Times his stint on the show shaped him as a singer, dancer, and entertainer.
"I had to grow up as an artist in only six weeks in front of everyone. It was an artist boot camp," Pxtn says. "It helped me get on the right path and taught me how to execute in a really short period of time."
For his new single "Looking," due out on April 22, Pxtn took those lessons to heart when working with co-writer Nilu and producer Adam Boukis in Los Angeles. The trio banged out a rough version of the song in barely an hour.
"Adam started on the keys and played something that struck my heart," he recounts. "It was just the skeleton and the bones, but I started singing. Then Nilu came in and started counterbalancing. She came up with the first hook, 'I was looking for you.' I was single at the time — I still am — so the song started out about looking for love and finding the person who will save you. But then I was then like, 'Fuck that, let's have this song be about you only need yourself and God.'"
And although it only took them 60 minutes to write the song, it took them about a year and a half of fiddling with it before Pxtn was ready to share it with the world.
"We had a lot of revisions. Adam added all this ear candy, so the production took forever," he says. "There was a lot of comping the vocals, so I had to go back and forth between Miami and L.A. But you got to do what's best to serve the song."
"Looking" eventually became the catalyst for an entire EP of songs, Stamina, due out later this year. Among the major influences for the record were the Weeknd, Dua Lipa, and Europop in general.
"I love pop songs from Sweden and Norway," he says. "They don't stop partying, and they love a good melody. I like to bring that overseas feeling over here."
Before he ever made his way to Europe, Pxtn says, he was obsessed with music as a kid growing up in suburban Doral.
"I grew up singing in church. I made demos of my brother singing at 12," he says. "I used to skip school at Ronald Reagan Doral High School to make music with friends."
Being a non-Latin minority in a Latin-majority area of Miami-Dade County really stimulated his musical palate.
"It gave me so much awareness of what was out there," he explains. "Surrounded by Columbians, Venezuelans, and Cubans gave me a different musical outlook. I had to learn to dance to Latin music, and now I put that celebration and spirit in my music."
In fact, before competing on the tenth season of The Voice in 2016, Pxtn made a go of it as a dancer.
"I had a gig being a dancer for someone that was supposed to open for Taylor Swift — that fell through," he says. "I told myself I'd never put myself in the position of losing a supporting gig again. If I was going to lose a job, it would be as the star."
Still, that dancing background serves him well when he takes the stage — and he can't wait to do to perform "Looking."
"Dancing puts life force in my music. I've learned how to have my momentum," Pxtn says. "I know when I can dance on stage and when I have to rest to sustain myself vocally. If I'm singing a ballad and there's a part of the song where there's not much for me to do, I know how to choreograph it to keep eyes on me."
In the lead-up to the release of "Looking," Pxtn admits he can't sit still.
"I'm here in Miami working out six days a week," he says. "I bring my mike into the dance studio and perform like I was doing a show. This is me in grind mode."
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