The xx Coming Back to America
Romy Madley-Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith of the xx
The xx kick off another round of U.S. touring in support of September's Coexist album January 24th in New York City. The band's Romy Madley Croft tells Rolling Stone when the U.K. group comes back for this second round of dates they've got some changes in store, including more of a seamless flow between songs.
"Jamie [Smith] DJs a lot, and there's the whole idea of mixing the songs into one another," she says. They also have new versions of songs from the first album, 2009's xx.
For the group, it's part of the challenge to make sure the sets offer something new. "Every day on the sound check we always try and play three things, and if we feel it isn't working we come up with new bits and new ways to keep the songs fresh for ourselves and for people that have come to see us before," she says. "We always are very aware of that and want to make it different and exciting for when they come back."
One thing fans can expect to see is an emphasis on the visuals, which Croft feels are a major part of the xx aesthetic. "The artwork is all something we do ourselves. It's based around the theme of iridescence, and we try and keep that as a theme that goes into our live show with the music and the lighting we use," she says.
One of the band's long-term goals is to create a multimedia feel that represents their collected works. "Each of the songs on both of our albums have an image," says Madley Croft. "In the future I'd like to display them all together as one big kind of collection."
Talking about inspirations for the xx, one band that Croft immediately mentions is Portishead. "Definitely a band that we look up to endlessly and really respect, especially with their attention to detail and sound," she says. "You always kind of get the feeling that they've taken a lot of time and thought into that."
The xx are adopting that approach while taking advantage of all the modern tools to share their music and artwork. For example, they recently released their first app. According to Madley Croft, they were not looking to do an elaborate production so much as to make sure that people got a sense of what Coexist was about.
"We just wanted it to be very simple, but I think the main thing for us is we spent a lot of time with the artwork and creating the booklet that comes with the CD," she says. "And of course nowadays not everyone buys a CD, and we wanted people to get the artwork and the lyrics and really be able to sit there with it and take time to just get into the lyric.
"You can immerse yourself in it," she says. "And when you come to the live show, you see the same sort of images and colors."
Photo by Jamie-James Medina