Interview

The xx

The xx

By Courtney Sanders

Wednesday 5th September, 2012 9:20AM

The xx burst onto the scene with their hugely successful debut self-titled album in 2009 . Pretty much straight out of High School the album’s success paired with their impressive live show saw the trio living ‘the dream’. Now with sophomore album Coexist almost out, we got the opportunity to chat with Romy and after a few connection errors helped to break the ice, she opened up about how they have coped with the sudden success and how getting back to normal life was crucial for the creation of Coexist, another deeply personal record for the trio….

How does it feel to have a new album and new songs to be playing live?

Yes its really nice to have new songs to play live. It’s actually really nice to have written new songs to be honest. I think we got to the point before where we…(interrupted by operator)…It’s just that we did a lot of toruing around the first album and a lot of those songs we had written we were sixteen so it’s nice having songs that reflect where we are now.

Obviously your debut album was hugely popular and you probably never guessed it was going to be as popular as it was. Was it daunting releasing something new?

I guess we tried not to think about it too much which I think is the only way we could cope with it. Everything that did happen and has happened came as such a surprise, we didn’t expect anyone was going to hear the first album. I was a bit worried when we were starting the new album that I wouldn’t be able to shut off and get back to the place where I was when I was writing the first album. But, we actually just spent a lot of time living and getting back to our normal lives. At two in the morning I was back to writing like myself and back to who I actually was: so that was the most important part: getting back to the place we’d been at during the first album.

Was there anything musically or sonically that you wanted to explore on the sophomore album?

I didn’t think about it too much: I wrote a lot of songs about people. On the first album I think we tried to say everything we had to say whereas with this album I wanted to be a bit more subtle and not say absolutely everything. We’re also better at playing our instruments which is going to make for a better record. So there was still the idea of writing a minimal album but I think we definitely wanted it to be more nuanced.

Jamie came on after you’d written the first album this time: was he way more involved in this process?

Jamie came on when we’d written a few songs but was still very involved in the first album but he definitely had a different role in this album. It was just the three of us and he was much more involved from the early stages of a song and that was really good and I think it definitely shaped songs in a different way: I think you can see that this is a bit more about structure and notes than the first album.

I remember interviewing you guys when you came and played Laneway a couple of years ago and he mentioned the intrinsic relationship that you two have: is that still the case and is that one of the most important parts of the bands?

Yeah I mean our relationship is basically like brother and sister. I’ve known Oliver since I was two years old and he’s always been in my life. We write lyrics about our own individual experiences so we’re never really talking about each other in a song which I guess is not a conventional sort of duet but it’s always seemed like the natural way to make things work in this band.

How do you see this album as different or how do you think you guys have progressed from the first album?

I’m so in it you know – we just finished marketing it last week – but I think now that we’re older we’ve definitely had more experience. Particularly being on the road for so much of that time. It is a different album but at the same time it does sound like The xx, it sounds like us still. I think there are more ups and downs still and I think we’ve written some of the nicest songs we’ve ever written on this album.

You must have had so many experiences over the last couple of years: have they shaped this album at all?

Actually we’ve had a lot of amazing experiences on tour and travelling and I think it wasn’t until we got back until we were living our actual lives that we started writing this album. We just desperately wanted to get back to London and almost disappear and forget that we were in a band and things. I just started where we left off with our first album obviously: in terms of the writing anyway.

It’s an interesting time to be having an experience like this. Has it been hard having this experience that is so different to your friends and the norm in what are formative years?

I think we’re very lucky and our friends are pretty chilled out and don’t ever treat us differently they’re just like “oh yeah, that’s great”. We would come back to London and nothing would have changed which is always the best thing for us. Sometimes we feel like we’ve missed out a little bit on the ‘growing up’ thing – going to university and things – and we came back from touring and we were still living at home – our rooms were the same as they were at high school. But I’m sure our friends would also love to be travelling the world too so I think it’s a double-edged thing.

The first album was so personal lyrically that it must have been weird to put that stuff out on an international stage. Knowing that a lot of people are going to listen to the second album, did you alter what you did and didn’t give away in your lyrics and songwriting?

I was worried because I was very personal on the first album and I definitely didn’t expect this many people would hear it. But I’m very personal on this new album too and I think I kind of have to be. I know we’re going to be on stage singing these songs every night for who knows how many years so I knew I had to have a real connection to the songs just for myself even: just to perform them with conviction. Also it’s cathartic to get these songs out of my head: so when I was writing those songs at night it’s literally just what was coming out of my head – the thoughts I needed to get out there.

You guys seem like quite introverted people: has it been difficult coming to grips with the notoriety you guys now have?

Yes, definitely. None of us are born for the stage or for the camera people but we’ve kind of been thrown into the fire a bit with it. We’ve taken some time getting comfortable on stage and talking to people but now that everything has happened we’re a lot more confident and comfortable than we ever have been: before we were so overwhelmed.




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