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MIDNIGHT BOOM
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THE XX’S ROMY MADLEY CROFT AND
HER BANDMATES ARE UNABASHED
CREATURES OF THE NIGHT.


By now, you probably know everything there is to know about The xx and their unexpectedly mature, Mercury Prize-nominated 2009 debut: the hushed melodies and low-end frequencies, the intimate, sultry lyrics, the band’s très cool haircuts and trademark black attire, their dearly departed keyboardist, and even lead vocalist and guitarist Romy Madley Croft’s endearing lisp.

So when Naked Eye set out to meet Croft on a most à propos gloomy Friday evening in Montreal, we decided to skip the requisite conversation about influences (as varied as CocoRosie, Beyoncé, The Kills and Cocteau Twins), origins (south-west London, with Croft and fellow lead vocalist Oliver Sim hitting it off in nursery school at age three), or recording process (in a tiny garage, often at night).

Instead, we asked the soft-spoken Brit – whose atmospheric, drum-less tunes make for a deeply satisfying late-night listen – to delve into her experiences with the dark, the intangible and the supernatural. 

How do you like to spend a cold, stormy night?
Pretty much go to my room, hang out with friends, watch films and listen to really good music. I guess that’s the opposite of what I’d say if I was living in London and doing nothing, but being on tour at the moment, it’s just about being still and enjoying a lightness of being. And the rain.

You’re walking home at the end of a pub night. Do you a take that shortcut through the dark alley or not?
It depends what area of London I’m in. [Laughs] There are a few alleyways that I know would be fine. I guess living in a place, you know your way around, but if I was on my own, being a young girl in London, I might just stick to the main streets... for my safety!

Pop culture’s current fascination with vampires and werewolves. Does it speak to you?
I’m quite into it. I’m just as caught up in this Twilight phenomenon as anyone else. I’m excited for it. We all went to watch Twilight the other day. I find vampires quite romantic.

Have you ever dabbled in the occult?
I haven’t, but I’m definitely susceptible [to] getting terrified. Touring in Seattle, I had my own room, and it had huge windows with curtains pulled across. I was just in there on my own for three weeks. It was really creepy!

Do you find full moons tend to give rise to strange behaviour around you?
I definitely acknowledge that it’s happening. Things start to get a little strange, I’ve got to say. In my experience, every single time, something will happen that will leave you speechless... I don’t know if I believe in the magic thing, but I am always conscious of it.

When you unravel a mystery, is it usually a disappointment? When the mystique is gone?
Exactly. I quite like the mystique of things. Musically, the artists I’ve always admired, I never knew everything about them, and I like that. I’ve always admired the fact that when Fever Ray – whom I’ve been listening to a lot – does an interview, that’s a really big deal. I don’t know very much about her; there’s a level of secrecy and it definitely makes her more appealing and intriguing.

The song that would make you weak at the knees if someone were to serenade you at night?

If I could get Bon Iver to follow me around and sing me to sleep, that’d be fun.

When no one is watching, what do you like to do?
Probably sing, because I can’t do it when anyone’s there, apart from on stage. I wouldn’t be able to, in a social situation like this, start singing. Or just be doing something, like making some toast, and sing. I’m really shy about it.

Your fashion sense relies on an assortment of dark hues. Is everything sexier in black?
Yeah, I mean for the most part, I find that most people look really good in black. If I see someone down the street and they’re wearing all black, it’ll generally look really good. That’s just my personal taste. I know that James [Jamie Smith, beats] has a little bit more colour in his wardrobe, and lately he’s kind of descended into darkness.

You guys are self-avowed night owls. Were you also last-minute pupils back in high school, always cramming the night before?

Yeah! All of us. Our tour manager was like, “I need to ring your parents to ask them how you got up!” But really, we didn’t get up. We did, but towards the end of high school we were really into music. We’re definitely all similar in our nocturnal habits.

The XX will perform at Toronto’s Massey Hall on September 29th, and at Montreal’s Place des Arts on October 1st.

Words by:  MICHAEL-OLIVER HARDING
Photography by:
ALIYA NAUMOFF

TheXX