In Control

Interview by Stephanie Peh
Images courtesy of Chad Kamenshine (The Artistree) & Tadamasa Iguchi (IN FOCUS)

The xx is all about timing. Their quietly paced albums speak whole stories. Skip a track and one might just miss the plot completely. For them, it is rarely about making one-track hits, as each song continues the other like run-on lines in a poem. There is darkness and innocence in the minimalistically layered sound. Quite dramatically, they have created poetry of their own without even knowing how.

Never mind the fact that when they played their first show, The xx had their eyes constantly on the floor, absolutely terrified of what was only five people in the crowd. They grew confident over time and got better. Perhaps it is a simple formula of pure chemistry kicking in, the support and unspoken understanding of one another—vocalists Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft have known each other since forever. The equation completed when long time good friend, Jamie Smith, joined the band. In between a schedule of endless gigs, Oliver Sim takes some time off and speaks to us about his story so far.

the xx

Hi Oliver, what have you been up to of late?

We are living in Manchester, UK at the moment as residents of a festival. The band is playing two or three sets a day. We will be here for like, two and a half weeks, playing 18 shows. Today is our first day off in a week! It’s pretty intense.

I would think so. What is it like touring with your best friends?

I have known Romy for over 20 years now, pretty much my whole life. She is like a sister to me. We were learning to speak and sing at the same time, which makes sense why this works. It’s not very common, I think.

The three of us are such good friends and it makes communication so good. Sometimes we don’t even need to say anything and yet we know what each other is thinking. Touring with two of my best friends makes it so much easier. I can’t imagine touring either alone or with people I don’t really know. I’m incredibly grateful for my situation.

Sounds like a beautiful relationship.

Definitely, we are all like brothers and sisters now.

When did you realise that Romy was your musical other half?

We started playing when we were about 15 and it was then that we started to fall in love with music, go to gigs and seek out new sounds. It was the age when you started really taking interest in something. We were not very ambitious though. It was more like, “why not try it out ourselves?” We had no plans to play to anyone, or share our music, until things slowly evolved.

Read more in The U Press N˚3 (Singapore edition).