not a member? click here to sign up
Prizes, plaudits and celebrity fans; no band could be more adored right now than The xx, but in spite of their success, these three Londoners remain reluctant to let anyone into their über-exclusive club. As their long-awaited second album hits the shelves, the band’s beatmaker, Jamie Smith, survives a grilling from Celina Murphy.
Celina Murphy, 02 Oct 2012
“I don’t really know,” Jamie Smith sighs, all but transmitting his shrug through the phone line. I imagine him as he always looks on stage; sullen, dressed entirely in black, and not having had a haircut for a while. “I think we’re all too deep in to know anything anymore. We’re definitely closed off from it for a while.”
The “it” in question is Coexist, the second album from all-out musical phenomenon The xx, which, unfortunately for Jamie, is all anyone wants to hear about. Tired and muddled, the electronic prodigy is clearly struggling with the incessant emotional prodding that goes hand-in-hand with releasing what could very well be the record of the year.
Don’t get me wrong: the 23-year-old is perfectly polite, and happy to answer my questions, it’s just that coming up with the answers appears to be giving him a headache. Perhaps it’s an unavoidable side-effect of the band’s head-spinning rise to fame.
At the age of 20, Oliver Sim, Romy Madley-Croft and Jamie Smith had already achieved the kind of success that takes most bands a lifetime to accumulate. Barely a year after their first gig, they’d released their debut album xx to universal acclaim, bagged the Mercury Music Prize, appeared on every ‘Best Of’ list from here to Tokyo, and had some of their musical heroes become fans.
Their music started appearing everywhere; the albums of massive pop starlets (Rihanna, Shakira) the catwalks of famed fashion houses (Chanel, Alexander Wang) and the climaxing scenes of prime-time TV shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl). All the while, the three school chums were blinkered by a hectic schedule of live dates and awkward
A week before the band’s Friday headline date at Electric Picnic, I find Smith in the rehearsal
studio, “working out how to play some of our new songs live.”
“My head has been in the release date for months now,” he says, admitting to pre-album-release jitters. “We’ve got some feedback, but only from people we know and people who have been quite involved