Quiet and unassuming, the xx sit in a corner booth at Manhattan’s Tribeca Grand Hotel. Lead singer Romy Croft orders sliders and a Coke. Keyboardist Baria Qureshi orders sliders and a Coke. Bassist Oliver Sim orders sliders and a Coke. Digital percussionist Jamie Smith orders sliders and a Coke. It’s a routine that fits with the band’s aesthetic: simplicity and taste. Those are the key ingredients to the xx’s Pitchfork-lauded, bass-heavy, dreamy R&B sound, which would make the perfect high school slow-dance jam, if it were only slightly less hip.
The four 20-year-old bandmates are soft-spoken, well-mannered kids from southwest London who met at the city’s Elliott School. They dress exclusively in black. All of them. But the musical influences on their debut album are considerably more disparate, with nods to Aaliyah, Joy Division and Depeche Mode, even if their aesthetic is full-on Morrissey, all pale faces and hanks of dark hair covering their eyes. Morrissey’s bandmate in the Smiths, Johnny Marr, is also a hero of theirs. “He came up to me after a concert,” Croft says happily. “And he complimented me on my guitar playing. It was crazy.”
Photo by Billy Kidd. Styling by Bryan Levandowski. Hair Charlie Taylor. Markup Laren Whitworth using YSL Beauté.