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An intimate interview with The XX ahead of third studio album 'I See You'

The XX, who are adding the final touches to their comeback with the surprise announcement of a residency at London’s Brixton Academy, are touring their upcoming third studio album I See You. a

In an intimate conversation from the House of George Stroumboulopoulos to celebrate their record, the band have spoken on The Strombo Show about what to expect from the new direction of the band.

How complete were the songs were before recording, limitations?
Romy: “They were quite rough, but we got some songs ready to play live and then we experimented a lot in the studio. We had less rules, where we were a bit more free with things, where before we said – make sure you can play it live. That creates some limitations and maybe made it more minimal, more simple and we didn’t intended set out to. People say, you are such a minimal band, but we don’t intend to be that. We’re just writing within our limitations. On this album, let’s just try stuff and figure it out later.

How is preparation going for  the new songs for the live show?
Jamie XX: “It’s a challenge, but it is very satisfying when things work. Its getting very excited about going back on tour.”

How much has Jamie XX’s solo work impacted the band?
Oliver: “Seeing Jamie do what he has done over the past few years has been so inspiring and definitely lit a fire underneath me and Romy. Going to his DJ sets, hearing our voices being blasted but being on the other side is a surreal experience, but part of Jamie being away and part of his sucess has taken him around the world has sort of left me and Romy to just work more on the songs.

“It has given us more time. We have presented fully formed song as opposed to, here is a verse and a bit of a chorus – let’s start work. It has worked out well. We have definitely been inspired by what he has done.”

On the direction of the band lyrically… 
Romy: “I’ve enjoyed that we have branched out a bit. We’ve said to people, oh it’s different in themes, but to us – I think the love songs that are on there are more joyful, rather than “you’ve left me and I feel this way…” It is kind of like, we’re together and how are we figuring this out, celebrating it and taking a risk.

“That’s been my shift and I’m sure that is going to be fun within the set, having the lightness and joy and writing not solely about other partners, but writing about each other and writing about our own introspective stuff has been really nice to challenge ourselves in that way, for it to not always be about the “you.”

On presenting new vulnerabilities…
Romy: “I think that Oliver and I really opened up the songwriting process, in that before we wrote very separately on the first album, over e-mail and too shy to sit in the room together and criticise each other. Now, we just sit in a room together and singing melodies, picking it apart and picking apart each other’s songwriting.

“If I bring an idea to Oliver, he says – I don’t really like that, deal with it. It is good. We challenge eachother and I think we have worked on that, it makes us better because of that. I find, when I write things on my own, you cannot always tell if it is good or not so it is really good to have these guys to bounce these ideas off… I think at this point, you know each other well enough, you can pick up on body language.”

How about songs that you don’t like? 
Jamie XX: “I feel like I’m pretty honest. I feel like you have to be, otherwise it is not fair to anyone.”

The Strombo Show is the home of the best records played in the best order, from the 1-2-3-4 to the 808’s and beyond. For over two decades, George Stroumboulopoulos has been working on behalf of you to find and champion the songs that’ll get you through the night. Interviews, intimate sessions and out-of-its-mind full blown house concerts.