In the studio, he’s happiest after the epiphany of a creative mistake – “the moment when something clicks and it sounds like something you haven’t heard or just gives you a certain emotion.” To illustrate, he cites “Girl,” an In Colour single anchored by an off-kilter bass line born when the producer incorrectly imported one of his samples.
The “drinking-in-the-sun type vibe” of album cut “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” meanwhile, was no accident. The song, which features Young Thug and dancehall deejay Popcaan, came about when Jamie was living in Brooklyn and listening to local hip-hop station Hot 97 during his morning commute. “I like the contrast in making something that sounds sunny but also has an element of melancholy to it,” he explains, discussing again those who mistake the xx as dour. “I think there has always been sort of an element of that brighter side when I make music, just because it’s when I’m happiest.”
Three of the album’s remaining nine tracks – including the showstopping “relief moment” “Loud Places” – feature either Sim or Madley Croft. Both offered their bandmate advice on the overall sound of the album, which was recorded at the same time as their own third LP. “It really helps having both outlets,” Jamie says. “The whole time I was finishing my record, we’d already done recording sessions in L.A., Iceland and Texas. One track on my album, ‘The Rest Is Noise,’ inspired one of the tracks from the new xx record, and the name sort of references what the name of the track on the next xx record will be.”
Croft and Sim were particularly helpful with final edits. “I still need help with the finishing,” Jamie continues. “Time sort of passes differently having somebody else in the room as you’re listening to the music. You hear it in a new way and cringe at the moments you know aren’t quite right.”
With those moments mostly eliminated, he’s now looking forward to the point when he can once again explore as much new music as possible, restarting the process of discovery and inspiration. This is one of his favorite things about the album format. “It doesn’t make sense for me to try to be, like, a dance dude who only releases two 12-inches a year and then plays every weekend,” he says. “Making an album, you get to put out a body of work that shows a lot of different sides of you. And you get to work on it for an intense period of time and promote that album. And then you get to move on.”