A Conversation with Midwxst: ‘E3’

“Can I show you something? I really want to play you a song,” midwxst asks me overflowing with excitement a week before his debut album, E3. “Please, go ahead,” I reply. “In what world would I say no?”, eager to hear what Edgar has queued up.

He sits in his desk back home in New York, preparing to perform at Reading & Leeds as well as taking a trip to Paris with his family pre-release. The curtains are cracked behind him as his suitcase sits atop his bed with clothes drawn out in every direction. It’s dark, but sunlight peeks through in slivers like his smile, which also lights up the room. He talks about wanting to learn electric guitar, detailing his wishes of getting a Fender Stratocaster and playing it live on his 25-date E3 Tour this Fall. Other tidbits like recording the album in Conway Studios, where the presence of Mac Miller, Tyler, The Creator and more have once graced, make our moments together more special.

It’s always great catching up with Edgar, who I’ve had the pleasure to see evolve — personally and professionally — since we met at Lollapalooza in 2022. And every time we chat, it’s a nonstop conversation. “I’m not going to tell you which track it is, I want it to be a surprise,” he continues, anticipating the heat he has on deck. A hypnotizing lead washes over me as soon as he hits play. “So many missed calls, so many mistakes / I told you that it feels like I don’t even know you / She said E3 I miss the old you,” he croons, igniting pop callbacks akin to Justin Timberlake and Big Time Rush, but with a euphoric blend of hyperpop, drum-and-bass and, if we’re being honest, every genre he’s been known to champion melded into one. Sultry saxophone melodies surprisingly whirl on the back end; it’s an unforgettable reveal.

I’m left speechless. “What did I just listen to?”, I ask him, unknowing of the sonic spell “old me” casts until shortly after our call. It’s evident the 20-year-old phenom has entered a new era, the sonic “world of E3” as he calls it; a full representation of who he is. Debut albums are a dime a dozen these days, but Edgar Sarratt III (aka E3) knows how important, and how impactful, it is for an artist to be unapologetically themselves on that first mainstream go. Only a year removed from projects in Back In Action 3.0 and better luck next time, he unbinds the true essence of himself on E3 — a 12-track emotional escape that sees the Indiana-bred crooner confronting his flaws, relishing his triumphs and consuming heartbreak, above all. On the record, midwxst has reached a point of realization, maturing right before our eyes with his newfound sound emerging like a lighthouse in a storm. Clad with an iridescent, forward-thinking fusion of pop, rap, rock and EDM with an impressive attentiveness to detail, midwxst’s authenticity — a value emphasized throughout his discography — has never shined brighter.

“E3 is a reminder that we’re all human and vulnerable. We all make mistakes, but those don’t define you. You might think a past event will label you forever, but that’s not true. I used to be this nerdy kid with a faux hawk and button-up shirts, and I was made fun of. I thought my features were problems to fix, but that was never the case. Those are actually my strengths. Everyone is unique for a reason; it’s just a matter of whether you capitalize on that.”midwxst

Tracks like “lights out,” “like nah,” “hate how much” and “s.f.b” are instantly irresistible, soaked in sugary autotune hooks intertwined with the “tightly-wound concept” of honesty amid heartbreak. Whether he’s rapping over rage beats or composing tender ballads fit for tugging heartstrings, midwxst navigates the complexities of love and identity in the digital age with a nuanced pen. The album isn’t just a coming of age story, it’s “a fairytale gone wrong” — told by the swooning, sweltering voice of Edgar III. “I made this out of love, and pain, of all my experiences,” he tells me. “It’s just a perfect representation of who I am and a perfect introduction to not only me as an artist, but as a person. You can hear the maturity, you can hear the growth and you can see there’s a distinct contrast of what I’ve put out before [to E3]. I’ve actually gone through this shit.”

midwxst’s path to superstardom is already paved in front of him. The next step? Keep trekking onward; The door E3 opens with much more ahead.

Check out our full conversation below!

midwxst | Courtesy of Interscope Records
midwxst | Courtesy of Edgar Daniel

JB: Man! Long time no see… How’s everything with you? Just saw you did Outsidelands, and you’re getting ready for Reading & Leeds. Tell me how you’re feeling.

midwxst: “Bro, I have some crazy unfinished songs.”

JB: What you’ve been sending me lately has been unreal… Are you back home right now?

midwxst: “Not in Indiana, but in New York. I actually leave for Paris in the morning…  Family time for a bit before the festival. And then, we’re on to the Louvre and we’re going to this one castle that I can’t pronounce, but it’s some sightseeing. We used to have trips like that as a family, but it just kind of fell off because we haven’t really had time together as a family. My sister been in college. I’ve been doing the music stuff… I’m looking forward to it.

JB:  A debut album is so important and such a huge achievement, a well-deserved congratulations to you. How does it feel to reach this milestone?

midwxst: “If I’m being honest, bro, I’m both excited and anxious to release this. Normally, I’m very open about sharing my work, but this time it’s different. Except for the singles, all these songs have remained unheard. It’s a new experience for me. This project started in October of last year, and recording it was emotional. I was going through a lot, from relationship problems to missing out on college experiences that my friends were having.Creating this body of work, while juggling emotional stress and deadlines, was intense. But something beautiful emerged from that chaos. Most of the album was recorded at Conway Studios, an iconic studio where Mac Miller recorded parts of ‘Swimming’ in and Tyler, The Creator did work on ‘IGOR’ and ‘Cherry Bomb’… It felt cool to actually create a full experience there, rather than just crafting my own world. For example, Sophie Gray, my executive producer, and I collaborated closely. We were literally writing lines back and forth, brainstorming the flow of the songs, and she helped bring a cohesive thread to the project. She felt like a full groove on it when I had so many ideas. My creative director, Garfield, also played a vital role in steering everything in the right direction. Seeing this vision come alive has been incredible. Everything for this album, E3, has been in my phone notes since I was 17 years old. I have the literal first treatment in my notes right now. It’s been so rewarding to have this come to life.”

JB: With you having it all planned out like this, did you question yourself along the way where you thought the album wouldn’t materialize the way you envisioned?

midwxst: “Hell yeah. Bro, I was so skeptical of everything. A great way to understand how I viewed this project is through a song called ‘Heartache Blues.’ It has a switch-up in both temperament and tempo. Originally, I didn’t like it, especially the first verse. But after rewriting it, I started to appreciate the song more. I remember playing it during team meetings and initially skipping it because it wasn’t my favorite. But when I finally played it, because Sophie, Drew and everyone who worked on the project with me said to play it… I was like ‘fine I’ll play it, but ONLY if we cut a new verse.’ The room lit up. They heard something from me they had never heard before. This album is so mature, it’s basically me growing up. I’m not the same kid from Summer03, who was openly dealing with depression and complicated situations and complicated, well, my life was complicated then. I’ve lost friends, love, and even parts of myself. E3 is a perfect representation of all that. It’s like a sonic roller coaster, capturing everything I’ve been through.”

JB: What songs off the record, along with ‘Heartache Blues’ did you feel the most open and honest with yourself in the creative process?

midwxst: “Probably the outro ‘ready for you,’ I really went in and was like: I just go off in the booth, tryna live my truth / Never forgot my dad face, when he said, I’m proud of you / Now we on the road, in the Sprinter not a coupe / Logo on the headrest, yeah, that’s what you’re supposed to do / But this feeling new to me, it could fade soon / There were times I really wished I didn’t have to hear the bad news / South Carolina, summers don’t feel the same without you / Really cry when I make songs, but I try to play it cool / So I ride head out the window, playin’ Limbo with thе wind / Clear my mind out, need a tea break, I’vе been burning out again / Mama said, Keep an eye out, no, not everyone’s your friends / See my name on Billboard, yeah, before the year ends.”

JB: A moment man, that’s amazing. And deciding to go featureless on this too makes the most sense. It’s not only bold but it highlights everything you can do. Especially since what you’ve been able to do when you came up in the hyperpop wave.

midwxst: Right… and I came up in a fully collaborative period of music, where working with other people was so commonplace. But there comes a time when you have to become your own individual, separate from any community or collective you’re a part of. Look at how the artists from Odd Future have aged, and have each found their own lanes, own ventures and levels of notoriety. Tyler is where he’s at, and Earl is where he’s at.”

JB: The ‘Antisocial’ era was crazy, and you’ve always been able to sing and rap. It’s evident on BIA 3.0 when you and Tron went bar-for-bar on “223s”.

midwxst: “I’m sorry, but dropping ‘Back In Action 3.0’ into ‘better luck next time’ was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. That little string from those two projects into ‘Tally’ into ‘slide den,’ and then ‘clair’ with skaiwater and then album rollout. All of it was *muah* chef’s kiss.”

JB: You’ve mentioned to me in the past that E3 is the protagonist of this story, but what is the biggest attribute of this character? How do Edgar, E3 and Midwxst all coexist?

midwxst: “E3 is THE character on the album, and the entire album is from my perspective through different lenses. You’re being transported into this fairytale world, a realm that feels like a dream but has something eerie about it. E3 is trying to figure out his own story, confronting emotions and situations he’s been dealing with. Songs like “Pretty Girls” and “Lost” represent different emotions and states of being in this world. Like the tarot card on “Warning” has all the symbols and more symbolism from the album, and the doors in the background of the videos and live performances transport you into this world. That’s why I’m sitting in front of a door on the album cover; it’s the threshold to the world you’re about to enter. Musically, it’s beautiful. There are saxophones and so much live instrumentation that I’ve always wanted to include but never had the means to. For example, I couldn’t find a choir for one song, so I brought in my college friends Olivia, Ava, Jane, and Casper, and had them sing multiple lines and harmonies to create a choir-like effect. The project is more mature and well-structured in terms of its canon. Each video offers a different vibe but they all tie together, creating a cohesive narrative. There are also some interesting, uncredited special guest appearances that add another layer to the experience.”

JB: With it being your debut album… Has anything changed with you as far as how you’re navigating the industry? How have you been able to balance trying to find what works for you commercially and staying true to yourself? Or do you not even think about that kind of thing.

midwxst: “If I’m being selfish, I think I’ve reached a point where I know the type of music I want to make. Originally, I released tracks like “Better Luck Next Time” just to prove I could rap. I’ve been labeled as a rapper or a figure in hyper-pop, but I wanted to show I’m more than that. I focused on improving my rapping and live performances, which are often neglected nowadays. This also allowed me to build a new community on top of my existing one. Taking that risk paid off. The beauty of my approach is that I can’t be easily categorized; some see me as a rapper, a pop artist, or even an EDM artist. I always follow my gut and have a clear vision for each project. Planning for this album was meticulous, including small details that make a big difference to my fans and me. I’m thrilled with where I’m at and excited for the future, especially as my friends are also pushing sonic boundaries. Sometimes, you have to step outside your comfort zone to get where you want to be; you can’t just wait for opportunities to come to you.”

JB: You draw a lot on your experiences on E3, but what have you learned about yourself through this process?

midwxst: “I used to be a dickhead, honestly, and I’m talking about in my relationships. I used to believe I was a compulsive liar. I thought I had a habit of messing things up by being too communicative, which made problems worse. This made me reluctant to talk about things and skewed my sense of trust. I wasn’t being truthful about people I was involved with or things I was doing. I realize now that this happened because I was constantly on the go, especially after being mostly homebound due to COVID and taking a leave of absence from school. I’ve grown a lot since then. The fact that I can now openly discuss these issues shows how much has changed about me. A year ago, I couldn’t have had this conversation without breaking down.”

JB: We’ve known each other for a minute now, and I can honestly say you’re one of the few people in this industry that have never wavered from who they truly are in their music. It’s special to see you mature like this, and it reflects in the music wholeheartedly. I think when you go on the E3 tour this Fall, it’ll feel so much more real. You excited for this headlining trek?

midwxst: “YES! This is the best setlist that I’ve had in a fucking minute and I’m covering all my bases, I’m doing everything like performing “True,” “Game Over,” and “Jack of All Trades.” I’m so teed for it. My whole setup includes a guitarist and a drummer; it’s going to be incredible. I’ll be performing live for 25 days; I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll even be performing at a Gaming Expo Center, which is a first for me. Mostly, I’m excited to visit new places I’ve never been to. I want to emphasize that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what resources you have. If you’re dedicated and willing to work hard, you can achieve your goals. Too many people talk big but never focus on what needs to be done to actually reach the next level. You can’t just keep saying you’ll do it “later”; you need to act now. People will be all talk, but I really felt like I honed in on what I needed to do to get to the level I’m at.”

*Edgar shows me “old me” for the first time. I’m blown away.

midwxst: “I’m glad you like it, because it’s a labor of love. This wouldn’t be possible without key people like Drew Drucker, Sophie Gray, and Sammy, not to mention my parents. They’ve been incredibly supportive. My parents were there with me during every recording session and always stood by my side. They lifted me up when I doubted myself; my mom even told me to give it my all.

JB: Talk to me a bit more about the support system around you, especially coming from a state like Indiana — not really known for their impact in music?

midwxst: “I feel like many people take their parents and their love for granted, something I’ll never do. I’ve lost friends and people in my life, so I appreciate the support I receive every day. I feel blessed and I make sure to acknowledge it, especially coming from Indiana where opportunities are scarce. Few people have ambition to leave and make something of themselves. That’s why when Omar and I, along with Freddie Gibbs, started gaining recognition, it was a big deal for us. It’s been a long time since young people, especially black kids, have had someone they can fully relate to. I’m a black kid from Carmel, Indiana, who succeeded in music, and that’s just because I grinded for it. And it’s always been like genuine. I’ll never sit here and lie [about what I talk about in my music]. That negates all to me. I live my truth.”

JB: Five years from this album dropping, what do you want to be remembered by?

midwxst: “If I’m being honest, I see this as the beginning of me etching my legacy and impact as an artist. This feels like the first step toward becoming the high-caliber artist I envision myself to be. I can definitely see myself achieving that in the future. The only other alternative is if the planet is doomed due to climate change, I won’t make it (he laughs), but this is where I hope to be 100%, and I will be.”

JB: What other plans do you have with the album rollout besides the singles and visuals?

midwxst: “I’m planning on doing a scavenger hunt across a bunch of cities. Some of them for tour tickets, some of them for merch, but it’s all going to be with a door in the park, or somewhere outside, to keep in line with the E3 vibe. I also am gonna get a hotline set up. So if you dial, 888-MID-WXST, you’ll literally get a line on the other end.”

JB: What is the message you want to spread with the release of E3? What do you want to say to your fans, both old and new, and to other young creatives who have looked at you for inspiration?

midwxst: “E3 is a reminder that we’re all human and vulnerable. We all make mistakes, but those don’t define you. You might think a past event will label you forever, but that’s not true. I used to be this nerdy kid with a faux hawk and button-up shirts, and I was made fun of. I thought my features were problems to fix, but that was never the case. Those are actually my strengths. Everyone is unique for a reason; it’s just a matter of whether you capitalize on that. Loving yourself saves you from so much unnecessary struggle and conflict. It took me a while to reach a point where I could speak positively. I used to say disturbing things in interviews and meetings… But I’ve grown significantly. I want kids to understand that labels and constraints don’t define you. People only label you to limit your growth and potential. Don’t let someone else dictate your path; that’s on you. I know it’s scary; I was scared to show my parents my first song. They only found out because I got in trouble. But after that, I promoted it like it was an official release. My name back then was Lil Draco aka Young Bulletcase. So, don’t be afraid to lean into what you believe in.”

JB: Any final words before people hear E3?

midwxst: “Love to everyone who worked on this, whether you were credited or not, behind the scenes or in front of the camera. Thanks for allowing this to be something I can be so proud of. Without Sophie, Drew, Sammy, my mom, my dad, my sister, and everyone else around me, none of this would have been possible. I appreciate all of you beyond measure.”

Listen to midwxst’s debut album ‘E3’!