The xx are a London quartet, featuring the dual lead vocals of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim (who also play lead guitar and bass guitar respectively), Baria Qureshi (keyboards and guitar) and Jamie Smith (beats, MPC sampler). Bonding over a shared love of dark, emotive 80s guitar sounds and the high-end sheen of American R&B, The xxs unique sound befits a band whose wide range of influences include everything from Aaliyah to Cocorosie, Rhianna to The Cure, Missy Elliott to The Chromatics and Mariah Carey to The Pixies. These influences combine via beautiful, hushed vocal duets and a brilliantly inventive use of samples and low-end frequencies to produce stark, sweet melancholic pop and a hauntingly soulful sound. OFFICIAL BIOG EXTRACT
They may only have a couple of official songs and a handful of demos to their name now, but The xx is a band to watch. Both casually cool and absolutely magnetic, this young London four-piece makes music that's simple and raw, but utterly captivating. With little percussion, distortion or background noise, the subtle bass lines and guitar riffs slowly build in volume as if self-conscious to be so nakedly displayed. The vocals are delivered in hushed tones to match the vibe established by the minimalist instrumentation. Their songs are almost all build-up and no resolution, which is somehow appropriate for a young band of 19-year-olds who are just gaining momentum in their musical careers. NPR.ORG
In other words, music is certainly a much richer place for The xx, and as we all know, you can never have too much great music! Having been best friends since the age of 3, first meeting at nursery school, Romy and Oliver have a brother / sister complex although to begin with, were too shy to sing in front of each other and eventually hooked up with Baria and Jamie at secondary school, when they were all aged 15. In one of their first ever interviews for Clash, of that period, Oliver elaborated: Me, Romy and Baria had tried making music before, but it was all quite heavily distorted; kind of a power struggle to see who could be the loudest. Our music is quite the polar opposite now.
With the magazine continuing: The polar opposite is music stripped down to the simplest of note sequences and drumbeats, carrying fragile lyrics across equally fragile melodies. A necessary simplification Romy explains: When we started, the music was quite simple because we couldnt really play. So it was a case of, this is as complicated as its going to get Im quite glad for that now, because I like the space and the subtlety. Any inexperience within the band is steadied by Romy and Olivers assured vocals, as their harmonies with each other are so tender and complimentary.
However, the quartets supreme debut 7, Crystalised (limited to 500 copies and produced by the The xx and engineered by Cocadiscos Rodaidh McDonald), along with the other original compositions and atmospheric covers theyve posted on their MySpace page, should be taken more as a taster of whats to come from the groups debut album. Which after jettisoning outside producers through fear of their songs being transformed into that persons vision, is being recorded and self-produced in a one-room studio at XL, for a September release. Because as one review observed: Their haunting cover of Womack & Womacks 80s pop hit, Teardrops, is the sound of a band still discovering their influences, but who are on their way to achieving a stunning new sound all of their own.
As a recent convert myself, I contacted Richard @ XL Recordings, who cordially asked Romy if she may be able to complete a Q&A for me when she had a spare moment. Who has since obliged, by delving into the inner-workings of The xx and writing a very considered account of the groups enchanting, softly seductive, calming, nocturnal and carefully constructed melt-in-your-mouth songs, as well as revealing how shes a music obsessive!
And if you yourself are a music obsessive, who loves cool and classy tunes that relinquish multiple quiet delights, then youll be overjoyed to discover the excellence of The xx
1.For people who have an affinity with music and who really understand
it, not only can it be a sanctuary for them, but also a way of life!
Have you yourself, always felt so passionately about music?
A very special thanks to Romy, to Richard @ XL Recordings, and to Caius @ The Young Turks, for all of their time and help.