Interview with The XX

Alex English | 13 August 2012

When I meet Romy, the lady third of The XX, she’s dressed head to toe in black and is sitting on a dark leather lounge in the corner of a dark room where the late-afternoon light is subdued by stained glass windows. The atmosphere is laden with mystery; a stark contrast to the bright, bustling neighbourhood outside. For anyone acquainted with the band, one of the more introspective acts to emerge over the past few years, this comes as no surprise. However, as Romy is keen to tell us, things aren’t always what they appear.

Do you remember the last dream you had?

Yeah, we flew yesterday morning out of Melbourne to Sydney and I fell asleep on the plane and I was so deeply asleep that I slept through the landing and in my dream I was in an earthquake. It was really weird because we’d been in Japan two weeks ago and there was an earthquake when we were there. I was doing an interview and the interviewer pre-empted it and we were sitting there and then everyone’s like, ‘okay, next question’. So I was in this dream and I was in bed in my dream and I was shaking, and I woke up and was like, ‘it’s the plane landing’. It was very strange.

What was the first album that you owned?

Probably the first cassette tape I ever bought was Run DMC vs Jason Nevins. I was about 12 or something. The first album I bought when I was 14 was by The Distillers. I was really into that kind of stuff and that’s what made me want to play guitar.

That’s a good one. Mine was the Spice Girls…

[laughs] Me and Oliver really liked All Saints. You know, you gotta choose between the two but we were always All Saints.

That’s a tough decision.

Yeah, we were very adamant though.

What word do people incorrectly use to describe you?

Depressed. I think people think we’re going to be really serious and crying. We haven’t done the best job of challenging that perception; I’d like to sort of do that.

What did you do for your last birthday?

I had a house party in my flat and I ended up being the most sober I’d been in that whole month. It’s that pressure that I had loads of people over in my flat and I was trying to keep the noise down for the neighbours. And I was going away on holiday at 6am the next morning, so I stayed safe and sober.

What did you get up to in the time between albums?

We toured for quite a long time, we went on for a bit longer than we thought and we all got a little bit exhausted and we came back home and were just really keen to have some time off. It got to a point where it became a distant memory, being on a stage, which I think felt good.

How long have you been working on Coexist for?

We got back at the end of 2010, and we started writing quite instantly and spent most of 2011 writing. Then in October we got our own studio and just worked on it for about six months. We’re still putting the tiniest finishing details on, so that’s why Jamie’s not here.

What were the inspirations for the album?

Life. For Oliver and I it’s very personal and it’s always about our lives and people that surround us. I was just inspired by that, really. That’s why it was good to have some time off, to kind of be inspired again.

What’s your songwriting process?

When Oliver and I started writing songs it was via the internet. We’ve known each other for 20 years, he’s my oldest friend but it can still be quite hard to sit in front of someone and write a song. So I would write something and send it to him and we would kind of bounce back and collage our ideas and we worked like that on this album. We went back to what we knew, but then after a while it kind of just happened that we started writing together and it felt really good. So much more instant and in the moment, rather than waiting for an email. We kind of developed and opened up to each other.

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