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Romy from The xx: ‘I’m excited to pick up the guitar again and embrace that sound’

Mr. Nimbus | 09/08/2023

Romy, from The xx joins Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music 1 to discuss details around her new solo record ‘Mid Air’, out now. Romy touches on how her trip to Ibiza inspired the track The Sea, performing at Circoloco and meeting Fred Again. Romy also discusses her track Enjoy Your Life, exploring the London queer club scene in her youth, her first experience as a DJ, meeting her wife Hannah Marshall and what the future holds for The xx.

Romy on her track The Sea being inspired by her trip to Ibiza…
We had a trip planned and then the pandemic happened, so it could have been. Who knows? I don’t know how much you get done if you move your studio sessions to Ibiza, but the dream was to go out there and kind of get inspired, but when I was working on the song The Sea from the album, I had gone out there with Oliver and Jamie for Oliver’s birthday and I had the demo of The Sea and it didn’t have lyrics yet, it just had a track that Fred and I had made and a kind of vocal melody and I played it to Oliver and Jamie in the car and I said… They were like, “We really like this,” and that was encouraging at the time because I was starting something new and I thought, “Lyrically I really want to make it feel connected to this place,” so that lent into The Sea themes. I started writing the lyrics to it on that trip and sort of evolved it. So yeah, then being back in Ibiza and the song being out and stuff was again, these nice kind of full circle moments.

Romy on performing at Circoloco in Ibiza…
It’s been cool. I started my set at Circoloco with ‘The Sea’. It was because I was on early on in the night, so it was kind of like… I love those sets where you start and the room’s in one vibe and then by the end if the energy has changed and people are more high energy. I love that. That’s one of my favorite moments when you start to reel people in, you sort of see people coming in the door and start to dance, and so I started with The Sea kind of as a little moment for myself to be like, “Wow, the album’s… I finished the song, it’s inspired by Ibiza and I get to play it here,” which was really cool.

Romy on meeting Fred Again…
[On being ‘paired’ with Fred Again at a writing camp] And that’s how I met Fred, as we were both songwriters. I’m so glad we did, because it wouldn’t have started if I hadn’t met Fred and our friendship hadn’t sort of naturally grown out of us just spending time together in the studio. It’s lovely because at that time he hadn’t released all of this amazing solo music, so it was such a low pressure place, we just were meeting and writing songs and enjoying that together and he’d be like, “Oh, by the way, I also make music.” And I was like, “This is incredible. I hope you can focus more on this.” And obviously he’s gone on to absolutely smash it. And I saw him play at Alexandra Palace this week. I’m so proud of him. It is really, really beautiful to see. I think that to me, the same way that the connection that Oliver and Jamie and I have is really important to me as well as the music we make. I think that Fred and I naturally formed that friendship as well, which has meant I felt really comfortable talking about my feelings and really being more open in the songwriting with him. That’s where through our conversations and chatting about relationships and stuff, we wrote Love Her, which is the first track on the album. And it was the first track that made me think, “Maybe this could be for me.” Once I kind of accepted this, it was a personal song for me. Then the door opened to more songwriting for this project, and then kind of accepting maybe it could be a solo album.

Romy on the track Enjoy Your Life…
Well, the reason that Enjoy Your Life even exists is because I was spending time with Robyn, which was amazing. I mean, I love Robyn. We were in Stockholm and she said to me, “Do you want to come to a gig?” I mean, I didn’t know the artist, Beverly Glenn-Copeland at the time, but I trust Robin. So I was like, “Yeah, anything you say, I’d love to come. So we went to this gig and it was so intimate and so magical. Like Glenn is just such an incredible performer and artist and to experience all of this amazing music live for the first time stayed with me so much. When I heard the lyric, “My mother says to me, enjoy your life,” it just moved me so much. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I came back home and I was just at that time writing a lot of this album, and I kept sort of singing that to myself and thinking, “Oh, well it’s not my lyric, but I’d really love to,” that feeling inspires me so much.” So I kind of wrote the song around it, always hoping and never sure if Glenn would be comfortable with me using that line. It came from when Fred and I were first working out just to songwriting really, that there was a version where I just sang with those piano chords, which is the end part of the interlude Mid Air. I always went back to that kind of stripped-down part of the songwriting before it became the big sort of production that it is now, being Enjoy Your Life. I wondered if there’s a way to incorporate the beginning of the songwriting and where it ends up, as well as shining a light. And I really want people to know that is Glen’s voice, that’s Glen’s lyrics. To be able to have him there properly without being sampled or affected was really important to me.

Romy on exploring the queer club scenes in London in her youth…
There was a moment in time where I was going out a lot to queer clubs in London. When I was about 16, 17, Oliver and I would go out together to these clubs. We were quite excited to get in underage. It just made me feel like I found a community. I made friendships there and felt a sense of finding a home in a different way to being at school. Where I could just feel safe to let my guard down and explore my sexuality and meet people. The music I was listening to in this one particular club, big bold Pop music that’s listened to unashamedly. Enjoyed and celebrated without irony. I think that was something. That’s how I love listening to Pop music. It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s now Tottenham Court Road Station, but it was called Ghetto.

Romy on her first experience as a DJ…
It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s now Tottenham Court Road Station, but it was called Ghetto. It’s a place that I had in my mind a lot when I was thinking about this album, because I was thinking about the songs I heard there. I used to go all the time and then the manager said to me once, “Do you want to DJ?”, and I said, “I don’t know how to DJ.” So he said, “Just burn some CDs and fade it in and out, come back next week.” So I did. That for me was an amazing experience, because back then I was very, very shy. I wanted to connect, but I wasn’t the kind of person that could go around the bar or club and be like, “Hi, nice to meet you.” But, through playing the music, I was connecting and feeling a part of the dance floor in a way that felt really nice that I hadn’t experienced before.

Romy on how DJing reminds her of when she met her now wife, Hannah Marshall…
I think that just listening back to a lot of music that I was listening to then and starting to DJ again now. I feel reconnected with that part of myself and it’s been amazing just to embrace that. To connect with the queer community and just have a bit more fun with DJing. And it’s nice because, as well, the relationship I’m referencing in a lot of these love songs with my now wife. We met when we were 19, 20. So I realised the music kind of takes me back to when we first met.

Romy on what a potential new record with The xx could sound like…
No idea. We have a laugh about it together though. If you get some trance pads from me, and Oliver wailing and then Jamie with really hectic drums. We were laughing. But I think that we have a lot of love for the sound we create with The xx. I think that, for me, I’m excited to pick up the guitar again and embrace that sound, but do something in a new way. I think I want to keep evolving though. I think we all do. That’s why I wanted to do this project, to learn and specifically to work with other people. To learn how they work. To come back to Oliver and Jamie and think, “Well, I learned this stuff from these other people, and we can bring that fresh energy into things.”

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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