London trio the xx achieve an intimate connection by being spatial and subtractive. Their cross section is beautiful and bleak, close yet lonely. Nothing is crowded or rushed. Lyrics lie bare. Sounds mean more. The hushed, austere, and padded voices of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim draw and bide with tension. Their guitar and bass play on clean, refined builds punctuated by producer/percussionist/DJ Jamie xx. This September, they released their second full-length, Coexist, as a follow-up to their platinum-selling self-titled debut. In between albums, Jamie honed and grew his skills collaborating with the late Gil Scott-Heron and remixing Radiohead and Adele. Oliver spoke from his flat in London, prior to playing the Later... with Jools Holland show. Soon after, the band would be off to Mexico.
You've known Romy since you were 3 years old. What's the first memory you have of her?
There are loads of pictures of us when we're little. It's hard to distinguish between what's memory and what I've made in my head. I remember kindergarten. It was a pretty new age kindergarten; half of it was outdoors. There were these baby turtles they brought in. I remember Romy and I playing with them.
Baby turtles are the last thing I would have imagined bringing your band together, but it makes so much sense.