The xx are an English indie pop band formed in 2005 in Wandsworth, London. The group released their debut album, xx, in August 2009. The album ranked highly on many best of 2009 lists, placed at number one on the list compiled by The Guardian and second for NME. In 2010, the band won the Mercury Music Prize for their debut album. Their second album, Coexist, was released on 10 September 2012.
The band met whilst studying at Elliott School, the same school that produced Hot Chip, Burial, Four Tet, and Pierce Brosnan. The group have however downplayed the influence of the school on their career: "A teacher from Elliott who had never even taught us said how great we were. It's a bit annoying. We were left alone, more than anything - although I'm sure that helped us in its own way." Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft started the band as a duo when they were 15. Guitarist Baria Qureshi joined once they began performing in 2005, with Jamie Smith joining a year after.
Their self-titled debut was released with the British independent record label Young Turks on 17 August 2009, and was met with sweeping critical praise, achieving a rating of "universal acclaim" on Metacritic. The album also ranked well on best of the year lists, being placed at ninth on the Rolling Stone list and second for NME. In the 2009 NME The Future 50 list, The xx were positioned at number six, and in October 2009, they were named one of MTV Iggy's "Top 10 Bands with Buzz" (at the CMJ Music Marathon 2009). In a first taste of success, their single "Crystalised" was featured on iTunes (UK) as Single of the Week, starting from 18 August 2009.
Though the band had previously worked with producers including Diplo and Kwes, they produced xx themselves, while Jamie Smith and Rodaidh McDonald mixed it. The xx recorded their first album in a small garage that was part of the XL Recordings studio, often at night, which contributed to the low, whispery nature of the album.
In August 2009, the band headlined their own concert tour. The xx have toured with artists including Friendly Fires, The Big Pink, and Micachu. In January 2010, Matt Groening chose the band to play at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival which he curated in Minehead, England. In addition, the band played at five of North America's most popular music festivals, Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.
In late 2009, second guitarist and keyboardist Baria Qureshi left the group. Initial reports stated that this was due to exhaustion, but Oliver Sim later said that the rest of the band had made this decision, "Also to be fair to her, people have an idea about that she left the band. She didn't. It was a decision that me, Romy, and Jamie made. And it had to happen." Later, Madley-Croft described the split as feeling "like a divorce."
The music of their debut album was used extensively on television and in the media, such as 24/7, Person of Interest, NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games; during the series Cold Case, Suits, Mercy, the Greek version of Next Top Model, Bedlam, Hung, 90210, as well as being the feature song for the March 2010 E4 advert for 90210, Misfits, the Karl Lagerfeld fall/winter 2011 fashion show, Waterloo Road, and the film I Am Number Four. In May 2010, the track "Intro" was used by the BBC in their coverage of the 2010 general election. This led to the band playing the track on an episode of Newsnight. The song was also sampled in Rihanna's "Drunk on Love" from her album Talk That Talk and was featured in the movies It's Kind of a Funny Story and Project X. The track was also played before the UEFA Euro 2012 matches at stadiums in Poland and Ukraine, and featured during the end of Top Gear Season 19 Episode 6 (Africa Special Part 1). Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Sander van Doorn's 2012 single Project T, which launched the official Tomorrowland 2012 aftermovie, contains samples from "Intro"; van Doorn had earlier released a remix of the song in 2010.
In September 2010 the band's debut album won the Barclaycard Mercury Prize. After the live ceremony screening, the album jumped from 16 to 3 on the 12 September UK album chart, accompanying an 269% sales increase. XL's marketing campaign drastically expanded after this substantial win, with day-time TV advertisements and billboard campaigns on some of the UK's highest-profile digital billboards. Thanks to the highlighted publicity, XL Recordings says that it shipped more than 40,000 CDs in the days following the Mercury Prize. XL Managing director Ben Beardsworth explained, "Thanks to the Mercury win...things are accelerating dramatically and the band will be reaching a bigger and bigger audience with their music." In another promotional initiative, the label sent out Saam Farahmand's audio/visual sculpture of the album when the band toured at Bestival 2010, as well as to an event at Seoul.
The band were nominated for 'Best British Album', 'Best British Breakthrough' and 'Best British Band' at the 2011 BRIT Awards held on 15 February 2011 at the O2 Arena in London, although they were not successful in any of the categories.
In December 2011, Smith revealed that he wanted to release The xx's second LP ahead of their festival appearances the following year, and that it was inspired by "club music". "The majority of stuff I'm working on now is The xx stuff. We're just about to start recording. Hopefully we'll get it done in time for most festivals next year, because that's the most fun." Discussing the sound of the album, he said: "We've all come back off tour and been partying a bit more. We left when we were 17 and we missed out on that chunk of our lives when everyone else was partying. Club music has definitely had an influence on the next record."
On 1 June 2012, it was announced that the second album Coexist would be released on 10 September. On 16 July 2012, they announced and released "Angels" as the lead single from Coexist. And on 3 September 2012, in a collaboration with Internet Explorer, The xx released the entire Coexist album to stream on their website until 11 September, the worldwide release date of the album.
In August 2012, The xx was featured on the cover of Issue #81 of the Fader.
The xx performed at Bestival on 9 September 2012 in front of the largest ever crowd at the festival. Their first North American tour started on 5 October in Vancouver, Canada, with dates throughout the US and Mexico.
2013-present: Touring and third studio album:
In 2013, The xx held a series of three festival-style concerts, called "Night+Day", in Berlin, Lisbon, and London. The festivals featured performances and DJ sets curated by the band, including Kindness and Mount Kimbie. Each festival culminated in a nighttime concert by the band. The band was nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Group, eventually losing out to Mumford & Sons.
In April 2013, The xx contributed the song "Together" to the official soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby. In March 2014, The xx performed a series of shows at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The show featured live visual effects and had a limited capacity
In May 2014, the band revealed that they were working on their third studio album, working with producer Rodaidh McDonald at the Marfa Recording Company studio in Marfa, Texas.
The band has cited several artists in their influences: singer Romy Madley Croft has mentioned her liking for Jimi Hendrix, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Yazoo, Eurythmics, New Order and The Cure. The xx have also been inspired by Cocorosie, Electrelane, Cocteau Twins, Aaliyah and The Kills. Sim in particular is an avid fan of Aaliyah, while Croft enjoys Mariah Carey's music.
Romy Madley Croft - guitar and vocals,
Oliver Sim - bass and vocals,
Jamie Smith - beats, MPC, backing vocals,
Baria Qureshi - keys and guitar (2005-2009)