Despite his many achievements, the super-talented Jamie xx is a man of few words. It's an approach that he applies to his music, too - allowing the spaces in between the sounds do the talking to crete a style that has earmarked him as one of the UK's most exciting production talents. 1948 sat down with Jamie last summer to talk about disco, Djing and the future of The xx.
The last two years have been phenomenally successful for you. Can you process what’s happened, or is it just a big blur?
I guess the biggest change is that it’s normal now.
Are there are any moments that stand out?
Yeah. Just moments at gigs. The best gigs. The moments after gigs…
You certainly don’t seem like someone who’s in it for the fame. Have you been able to adjust to international recognition?
Well, somewhat. I’ve got to the point where I do enjoy being on stage now. But I still don’t feel like a ‘performer’.
You’re recording a new album with The xx, and you’re also working on your own, solo stuff. How do the two processes differ?
With the next [xx] album, we’re doing it slightly differently. We’re recording whilst writing. Whereas last time we were writing for playing live gigs – the album was specifically created with that in mind. With my solo material, it’s still just me at home with my computer. And it’s the same with the band. We didn’t see any point in changing it really. It worked.
How does the new xx album differ from your debut?
It sounds like a progression. But it’s not ‘done’ enough to really say.
How do you choose the artists that you produce for? Do you have any specific criteria?
I just work with whoever I like, or whoever I think has some potential that could be tapped. This year, I really just wanted to do stuff that I hadn’t ever done before. That meant working with new people, and doing so solely as a producer rather than a band member or an artist.
You’ve travelled all over the world with The xx. How, if at all, has that changed your perspective on the music scene in the UK?
I think, last year, there was a lot of good stuff happening. There’s still loads of good music coming out of the UK but I think it might be getting stunted by this categorisation – ‘UK music’.
Since it blew up, and producers are DJing out more, things have changed. I’ve found personally that when I’m out DJ-ing that – while it’s a lot of fun – it can hold you back from actually making music you want to make, because you enter a mindset where you’re making music for DJing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes you just want to make it for yourself. But I do think that the fact that a lot of producers have been DJ-ing more recently has maybe stunted the growth of music.
What do you listen to at home?
Recently I’ve been listening to disco, just as a side tangent. Disco, and boogie. I play a lot of Cheryl Lynn. I really love [her music].
I go through stages where I have a couple of records that are always in my record bag. At the moment it’s the US Disco edit of ‘World is a Ghetto’ by War. That’s like ten minutes long. Amazing. All instrumental.
There’s a track on the new Hessle Audio compilation that’s also really good. It’s by Ramadanman. ['Blimey', taken from Hessle Audio: 116 & Rising]
Let’s take it back to London quickly. You grew up here, didn’t you?
I grew up in Fulham, but I live in Brixton now and I really love it. It’s not overwhelmingly cool, there’s not too many young people, but there’s really nice places to eat, there’s a sense of growth at the moment. More and more young people are moving there. There’s also always somewhere to go.
Is there anywhere in London that you specifically love?
Plastic People, still. And there’s loads of good restaurants. I love London for eating. I went to [offal restaurant] St John in Spitalfield’s recently. That was really good.
Did you have a bit of bone marrow?
No I didn’t go that far!
I just work with whoever I like, or whoever I think has some potential that could be tapped
I grew up in Fulham, but I live in Brixton now and I really love it.
There’s still loads of good music coming out of the UK but I think it might be getting stunted by this categorisation – ‘UK music’.
I still don’t feel like a ‘performer’