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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
from the beginning, so it’ll be nice to get some outside opinion.”
A lot’s happened between xx and Coexist; while the band ventured further and further into the wacky realms of fame, Smith earned further praise for his Gil Scott-Heron collaboration We’re New Here and even appeared on the second album by multi-million selling rapper Drake.
On the outside, things couldn’t possibly be more different; have Smith & Co. felt a change within
“Only really us getting closer,” Smith says. “We’ve grown up quite a lot since we made the first album. We were 18, so we understand in general each other
a bit more and understand the world, I guess,
Having known each other for half of their lives, you’d almost expect the young trio to be operating through telepathy at this stage.
“We all think quite similarly,” he acknowledges, “and we have an idea where things should end up. Even if we don’t know exactly what that is, it seems like we’re all headed in the same direction.”
In spite of their inherent closeness, The xx have a somewhat unfriendly way of writing music. Sim and Madley-Croft have spoken about how they operate almost like solo artists until the final product
“It always starts with the lyrics,” Smith explains, “and they’re usually just like poems. Romy and I send them back and forth over the internet or, on a couple of occasions on this album, they were written from scratch together, which I’d never done before.”
When a band rises to fame as quickly and triumphantly as The xx have, there’s always a risk that their enormous audience will become a part of the group, unknowingly dominating how things are done, as the musicians ask themselves, ‘Will our fans like this?’ As album number two started to take shape, did The xx find themselves thinking about this invisible fourth member?
“I think we would have done, if we had gone straight into recording after coming off tour, but we took a year off and just got back to our lives and kind of forgot about the whole… everything, really. It was nice just to feel a bit normal again, just to go out with our friends, so by the time it came to actually having some songs written and being ready to record them, we were just so eager to get them down that we didn’t really think about anything but finding the time to actually put them down.”