The XX's producer Jamie Smith talks to Gimme Noise
Jamie Smith, far left, produces the XX's serene beats
The XX will make believers out of skeptics who never really listened when Mama said "less is more." The London band are made up of 19-year-old friends from art/music school whose minimalist R&B-tinged tunes, featuring the whispered vocals of lead singer Romy Madley Croft, are probably the best thing to happen to indie music since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In a word, the tracks on their debut are sweet in a world of brash riffs and larger-than-life bass, something our own Prince knew quite early when he made "When Doves Cry" without a bassline.
Tonight, The XX play with Friendly Fires at the Triple Rock for a sold-out show. We caught up with producer Jamie Smith while on the road just days before Thanksgiving. The tour manager handed the phone over, but not before declaring it was Smith's 21st birthday, and when asked how he's celebrating, Smith answered bashfully, "He's kidding. I'm not really 21 yet." We're sure that's a good thing.
Gimme Noise: Your video for Crystalised has well over a million hits on YouTube. What comes to mind when you hear that? Are you quite accustomed to the warm reception you've received thus far?
Jamie Smith: It's pretty crazy, we didn't know what to expect when we were recording the album because we were in solitude for that time and we weren't working with any deadlines or anything. So for it to go from that to what it is now, it's kind of mad. We do worry a bit though because people keep mentioning the hype.
GN: Speaking of hype, I heard Courtney Love poured herself all over your Myspace page, letting you know she's a fan. She's done that on our site, too, minus the fan part. First reaction?
Some of us are big Hole fans so we were really excited about it. She came to one of our gigs in New York.
GN: There's something innocently romantic about your band.
Some of the lyrics were written when they were 16, so that's maybe where that feeling comes from.
GN: You took a DIY sensibility to production after you'd tried working with other producers, such as Diplo. Was that scary for you? Any prior experience?
We worked with about five other producers and we learned a lot while working with them but I also learned that I am a slight control freak and perfectionist so when it didn't end up sounding exactly like I wanted, I got really frustrated. I've produced by own tracks and hip-hop stuff and mixtapes before the album but I'd not been in a band for a while, so I didn't know exactly how we should do it at first.
GN: What is the one thing you might miss about America when you go back to the UK, and what's one thing about the UK you miss right now?
About America... probably the sun and people seem to be a lot nicer here. Maybe that's because the weather's nicer. We've got a much warmer reception here than from the people in the UK. About the UK... we miss the people and being able to live our normal lives.
GN: Tomorrow is the American holiday Thanksgiving - have you ever celebrated it before?
Never. We're in Canada right now but the driver and the support band are American so we're going to try and sort out a nice Thanksgiving dinner.
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