click here for more
The XX

The XX

Interviewed by
Monday 16th January, 2017 12:19PM

After what feels like eons, indie-electronica sweethearts The xx are today unveiling their hotly anticipated third album I See You. The album's release ends a long wait for fans, coming five years after the release of their last full-length effort Coexist, a gut-wrenching offering that followed on the heels of their platinum-reaching 2009 debut, xx.

After a month-or-so of soaking up the bittersweet lead single 'On Hold', we got to speak to DJ/beatmaster Jamie xx about the album's recording process, finding more confidence together as a band, and that most excellent Hall & Oates sample. Read the interview, and then see below for details on how to win an xx prize pack..

UTR: So, let’s start on the ground floor. How did The xx come together?

Well, we all went to school together. Romy and Oliver have known each other since they were four, I met them when I was eleven. We were basically best friends until forever and started making music around 16. 

Cool man, that’s rad. I hear a pretty vast array of musical influences in The xx. I imagine deciding on a set musical direction might have been a somewhat time consuming affair?

Well, there’s not really a decision making process. It’s very much just we were having fun in the studio and made a bunch of stuff and it sounded good to us. We didn’t really think much more then that.

 Cool, cool. So what’s the inspiration behind the title of your new album I See You?

It’s basically just about the fact that we’ve grown up a lot since we released our first record. We’ve become a lot more confident and comfortable in our own skin and ready to let people see a bit more of us and let each other see more of ourselves. We’ve become a lot closer really; more vulnerable with each other and I think that allows us to be more confident and outgoing, in terms of the music as well.

 Nice, like you’ve formed a deeper bond of trust?


I get quite a few different feelings from listening to the new album. One of them seemed to be lots of nostalgia. Is that sort of reflective of what’s happening in your lives at the moment?

Well, I think that the lyrics are more about actual events that have happened in Romy and Oliver’s lives, whereas before they were more metaphorical or about, more kind of wishing for the future. So maybe that’s why it seems a bit more nostalgic.

 I see. From what I understand, a good percentage of the album was recorded over in the States, which is quite different to how it was on previous occasions?

Yeah, we just decided that, we’d only ever been in a studio or even just a bedroom in London and that had been very insular and we decided for this one to do the exact opposite and go to all these places that we’d never been with a completely different landscape and just have fun with it.

Awesome! Was there a favourite place that you encountered along the way?

Well, they’re all kind of favourites. There’s a song on the album for every place that we recorded in and I feel that some of the songs, the genesis was from each place. 

The single that’s dropped recently ‘On Hold’ has a Hall and Oates sample. What brought that along? Are you a big fan of them?

I mean, it’s a good tune.

 It’s a great tune.

It’s like a classic tune so it wasn’t something that I would normally sample, I’d usually go a bit deeper but I was kinda out of ideas for the song that we had and it kind of got to the point where I just decided to throw something random in and it worked.

Awesome. Was it hard to clear with the whole copyright side of things?

Well I think with bigger artists, it’s actually easier to clear, you just have to pay more money. It’s much harder to find people sometimes who haven’t released much for forty years and have completely gone off the radar.

I read that a studio employee walked in on you having a bit of a boogie to ‘On Hold’ by yourself. I must say that I’ve had a few similar experiences, just in less professional contexts.

Haha. I mean, that’s bound to happen at a studio but it’s fine. The studio we were working at in London is like really nice family vibes.

So, is that the moment that you know that you’re really onto a banger, if you’re bobbing your head by yourself?

Yeah, I think. I’m sure everybody has that feeling with whatever they do that they love and you sort of have that eureka moment where you feel like you’ve really had a breakthrough. 

There’s a lot of electronic-ness going on in this record.

Do you have any favourite synths or drum machines or other cool noisemakers?

I have a favourite which is an Oberheim 8 voice which I bought just at the beginning of making this album and I’ve used it throughout. It’s a monster.

Cool, and how did you come to find that?

I went to a dealer in New York who totally found one and rebuilt it for me. They don’t pop up very much. 

And are you an analogue dude in that respect? Or do you reckon digital is the way to go?

I prefer the sounds of analogue but I think that it’s good how easy it is to make music on the go now with digital. 

Speaking of digital vs analogue. I was just wondering if you’d seen the recent BBC article that said record sales had outstripped downloads this year. Do you think that that’s a sign of the time that maybe the music industry’s dread download age is coming to a close?

Well, I think that it’s only moving into even worse pastures in terms of making money for artists with streaming but it’s great that more people are buying actual vinyl again. It’s still the best sounding format. 

For sure. I noticed there’s a mirror sleeve on your upcoming album. Is that your doing?

Yeah, we always work on the artwork ourselves and it was quite a long task working out exactly what to do with this because the music came so easily. It felt much more natural then usual and the artwork was a bit more tricky because it was so varied. We didn’t have an exact concept behind what the album was until quite recently.

And so, do you do visual art as well or just sort of conceptualising?

Well, Romy went to St Martins and studied art there before we went on tour and stuff and we’re all very much into art. We like to come up with a fully formed idea before we give it to a graphic designer.

I read a bit about your intimate shows in March 2014 and it sounded like it was quite a coy affair. Do you still get shy when you play live, even with all the critical acclaim that you’ve received?

I think it’s becoming easier for us to perform and have a different persona onstage, which took a long time, especially for me but now I’m enjoying taking on that role and I can be super jet-lagged and tired before going onstage and then as soon as I’m on I can change it up for a moment and as soon as I get off, I’m back to being exhausted. Before me doing my own DJ tour, I don’t think I would have been able to do that very well.

Right, so was that sort of a formative experience for you - that tour?

Definitely, I had to do a lot of things that I never thought I would be able to do.

Speaking of your side project, how do you decide which material goes into the band or the DJ buzz. Is it a matter of the others being available at the time or is there certain flavours that your prefer for each?

I think before my album it would have been me holding back on certain things that I didn’t think would work for The xx but since that and since making this album I’ve been a lot more free and open with ideas and the idea of what The xx sounds like so I think there are no barriers anymore. 

So if there’s no barriers with The xx are we still likely to see more solo stuff from you?

I have no idea. That’s kind of like asking somebody who’s pregnant what they want their next child to be. Everything is about this album right now. 

 Speaking of this album, are you guys planning a big tour for it’s release?

Yeah, I’ve got the next year of my life planned out, at least.

Awesome, that’s quite the commitment, hey?

Yeah, it’ll be fun though.

Do you think there’s any chance we’ll see an appearance from you guys in New Zealand?

I’d like to. 

Head over here to enter the draw to win an xx prize pack which includes a signed copy of the album


Content copyright 2018 | some rights reserved | report any web problems to here