Cover Feature Jamie xx: “Not a lot of people get to be where I am”

Jamie xx is in a unique position. With the world watching, he can turn in just about any direction.

There isn’t anybody else remotely like Jamie xx. This 26-year-old - real name Jamie Smith - is in one of the world’s most adored bands with The xx. And at the same time, he’s a go-to voice in the electronic world. Few take on this kind of balancing act, and barely anybody embraces the challenge quite like this man. Obsessed with niche movements and revivals, he’s just as happy DJing a new night to thirty people as he is closing out a stage at a gigantic festival. He wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s taken one hell of a journey to get here.

“Not a lot of people get to be where I am,” he admits, jet-lagged and trying to count the hours since he last slept. Two days back in his beloved London haven’t provided any sense of routine. Post-Coachella he’s been in a daze, and his only response - ignoring sanity altogether - has been to go out more, see more things. That’s been the case since the age of 17, when his shy, stage fright-struck band were whisked off with a debut album that helped shape one of the most surprising success stories in a decade.

Any time off from touring, he’d spend nestling up next to a speaker somewhere in a dark corner of the capital. Nobody else was around because they were all leading boring, more normal lives - his friends were starting university. Alone, he’d lose track of time immersing himself in the sounds coming out of dingy London clubs. He remembers “weird spaces with loads of dudes stood around, hoods up.” Was he ever one of those? “Occasionally…”

Jamie’s discovery of electronic music was a reclusive one. And from the beginning of The xx, he’s been the guy at the back (“it didn’t really matter if I looked miserable or not”). Debut album ‘In Colour’, however, is his way of getting personal. A manifestation of the way he thinks and feels, some songs have been hanging around for years, lurking from his early twenties to where he is today. “Going from being 17 to 26 - that’s one of the biggest parts of your life, in terms of how you shape as a person,” he says, and ‘In Colour’ documents this coming-of-age story, one that’s impossible to replicate.

Jamie xx: "Not a lot of people get to be where I am" Jamie xx: "Not a lot of people get to be where I am" Jamie xx: "Not a lot of people get to be where I am" Jamie xx: "Not a lot of people get to be where I am"

As featured in the June 2015 issue of DIY, out now.

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