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The xx are an English indie pop band formed in 2005 in Wandsworth, London. The group released its debut album, xx, in August 2009. The album was a commercial and critical success and was ranked highly on many best of 2009 lists, including number one on the list compiled by The Guardian and second for NME. In 2010, the band won the Mercury Music Prize for its debut album. Their second album, Coexist, was released on 10 September 2012.
The band members met whilst studying at Elliott School, the same school that produced Hot Chip, Burial, Four Tet, and Pierce Brosnan. The group has however downplayed the influence of the school on its career: "A teacher from Elliott who had never even taught us said how great we were. It's a bit annoying. We were left alone, more than anything – although I'm sure that helped us in its own way." Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft started the band as a duo when they were 15. Guitarist Baria Qureshi joined once it began performing in 2005, with Jamie Smith joining a year after.
The band's debut, xx, was well received by critics.
Romy Madley Croft in a concert in Barcelona in 2009
Oliver Sim in a concert in Barcelona in 2009
The xx's debut album xx was released with the British independent record label Young Turks on 17 August 2009, and was met with sweeping critical praise, achieving a rating of "universal acclaim" on Metacritic. The album also ranked well on best of the year lists, being placed at ninth on the Rolling Stone list and second for NME. In the 2009 NME The Future 50 list, the xx was positioned at number six, and in October 2009, it was named one of MTV Iggy's "Top 10 Bands with Buzz" (at the CMJ Music Marathon 2009). In a first taste of success, its single "Crystalised" was featured on iTunes (UK) as Single of the Week, starting from 18 August 2009.
Though the band had previously worked with producers including Diplo and Kwes, the members produced xx themselves, while Jamie Smith and Rodaidh McDonald mixed it. The xx recorded its first album in a small garage that was part of the XL Recordings studio, often at night, which contributed to the low, whispery nature of the album.
In late 2009, second guitarist and keyboardist Baria Qureshi left the group. Initial reports stated that this was due to exhaustion, but Oliver Sim later said that the rest of the band had made this decision, "Also to be fair to her, people have an idea about that she left the band. She didn't. It was a decision that me, Romy, and Jamie made. And it had to happen."
In September 2010 the band's debut album won the Barclaycard Mercury Prize. After the live ceremony screening, the album jumped from 16 to 3 on the 12 September UK album chart, accompanying an 269% sales increase. XL's marketing campaign drastically expanded after this substantial win, with day-time TV advertisements and billboard campaigns on some of the UK's highest-profile digital billboards. Thanks to the highlighted publicity, XL Recordings says that it shipped more than 40,000 CDs in the days following the Mercury Prize. XL Managing director Ben Beardsworth explained, "Thanks to the Mercury win...things are accelerating dramatically and the band will be reaching a bigger and bigger audience with their music." In another promotional initiative, the label sent out Saam Farahmand's audio/visual sculpture of the album when the band toured at Bestival 2010, as well as to an event at Seoul.
The xx was nominated for 'Best British Album', 'Best British Breakthrough' and 'Best British Band' at the 2011 BRIT Awards held on 15 February 2011 at the O2 Arena in London, although it did not win in any of the categories.
In December 2011, Smith revealed that he wanted to release the xx's second LP ahead of its festival appearances the following year, and that it was inspired by "club music". "The majority of stuff I'm working on now is the xx stuff. We're just about to start recording. Hopefully we'll get it done in time for most festivals next year, because that's the most fun." Discussing the sound of the album, he said: "We've all come back off tour and been partying a bit more. We left when we were 17 and we missed out on that chunk of our lives when everyone else was partying. Club music has definitely had an influence on the next record."
On 1 June 2012, it was announced that the second album Coexist would be released on 10 September. On 16 July 2012, it announced and released "Angels" as the lead single from Coexist. And on 3 September 2012, in a collaboration with Internet Explorer, the xx released the entire Coexist album to stream on its website until 11 September, the worldwide release date of the album.
In August 2012, the xx was featured on the cover of Issue #81 of the Fader.
The xx performed at Bestival on 9 September 2012 in front of the largest ever crowd at the festival. Its first North American tour started on 5 October in Vancouver, Canada, with dates throughout the US and Mexico.
2013–present: Touring and third studio album
In 2013, the xx held a series of three festival-style concerts, called "Night+Day", in Berlin, Lisbon, and London. The festivals featured performances and DJ sets curated by the band, including Kindness and Mount Kimbie. Each festival culminated in a nighttime concert by the band. The band was nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Group, eventually losing out to Mumford & Sons.
^Capart, Nicolas (9 October 2009). "The Smile of XX (an interview with singer Romy) (original title: Le Sourire de XX)". La Libre Belgique. Retrieved 21 August 2013. Des sixties, je retiens Jimi Hendrix que me faisait écouter mon père. Puis, dans les années septante, The Slits, que j’adorais, Siouxsie and the Banshees (dont elle porte le T-shirt), Joy Division Les années quatre-vingt avec Yazoo et Eurythmics New Order aussi. Et bien sûr The Cure. Off the 60s, I select Jimi Hendrix that my father made me discover. Then in the 1970s, The Slits that I loved, Siouxsie and the Banshees (whom she wore a T-shirt, note of the author), Joy Division. The 80s with Yazoo and Eurythmics, also New Order. And of course The Cure.