Interview with Romy from XX

“Mid Air is that moment on the dance floor when you feel suspended, light, without any interfering thoughts. Live intensely in this moment and nothing else.” These are the words Romy – yes, the singer and guitarist of the band xx – told us about her debut album: Average airagain produced by Fred… and Stuart Price (producing most of the songs) and his bandmate and traveling buddy Jamie xx (on the single Enjoy your life). Released on Young (sub-label alternatives from XL Recordings), Average air in fact, she goes on a journey to (re)discover herself in eleven songs in which only two times (Strongfeaturing Fred Again himself.. and the title track Average air, with American jazz singer and songwriter Beverly Glenn-Copeland) will distract attention from the long and sincere emotional letter that the Englishman conveys to those closest to him. So the album has a lot of reasons to be more than “Romi’s solo debut”: against the backdrop of an almost incessant beat Average air it’s pop music that seeks to speak to the fragility and fears of the queer movement through powerful personal stories and memories of adolescence.

“IN Average air I am not only an introvert who plays the guitar and sings songs xx, but above all, I am a person who is very interested in talking about intimacy and personal life on the dance floor,” she tells us when we approach her to talk. this new, decisive chapter of his career. Already at first glance, scrolling through the track titles(Weightless, She’s on my mind), there is a strong feeling that I am in front of a series of precise self-portraits taken in the moment necessary to move on: “Writing this album was an almost involuntary process in which I realized that I was becoming more and more personal, and in texts and music. I realized this while working on the album. I think I’ve returned to the way I thought about music before the 20th century, when I did it almost as self-therapy, and that’s why I Average air there really is something more to Romy.”

The album develops Romy’s desire to move beyond the mainstream as an end in itself through pop music able to communicate more energetically through the language of dance: “In the XX I mostly sang about love stories, problems of the heart and all this connected to what was happening around this type relationships, but from a more external point of view. My relationships are central to my album, from my relationship with my wife to my relationship with my family, identity, and sexuality. In a way, it’s about photographing in different ways and different moments when we encounter this difficult feeling.” In particular, the family he talks about in one of the singles that launched the album, the Eurodance ballad. Strong: Cousin Luis, in addition to being a co-star in the song’s video (directed by his wife, director and photographer Vic Lenten), appears on the single’s cover alongside Romy to foreshadow one of the story’s central themes. behind Average air: “Strong he was born at a time in my life when I was trying to cope with the loss of my mother,” she explains. “When I wrote this, I was thinking about my cousin: we both experienced the same loss when we were young. It was an almost spontaneous way to explore these feelings and at the same time find release in the euphoria of the dance floor.” important passages, as well as revelations that make it possible to break down all the barriers that separated Romy from spontaneous writing. This is not surprising, however, when you consider that British culture has always represented a place where communities, expressions and genres are devoid of any fear: “Among the most special things I remember was an encounter that took place on the highway, at night for a while back. Strong “It was recently released as a single and a complete stranger came up to me and said the lyrics helped him deal with a very similar situation.” “It was really moving: it made me realize that my vulnerability, although softened by the dance euphoria, is what makes this album so authentic. And that’s what motivates me to keep writing like this.”

Story Average air in fact, it all started with a constellation of questions, but gradually turned into a story of many small facts: love her, the first song released during a studio session with Fred Agin…, is a romantic dedication to his wife, as well as a restoration of his strange origins and the joy of being able to express the intimacy of the feeling of love. for woman. After writing it, Romy says: “Fred asked me who it was dedicated to, and I answered with some shyness: “Maybe myself?” Intimate emotional stories and complicated situations in which the singer-songwriter is now even more of a champion, in a breakthrough of sorts – since her real coming out had already happened several years ago – and the club has again become a central figure in this process. story: “Among the songs there are many memories associated with the queer dance floor: it is a world that, since I was a teenager, has given me the strength to express my sexuality, to feel less alone and free to lower my guard to feel like ME.” And according to Romy, it is probably also a raw nerve that she herself has taken care to heal through the wish, now fulfilled, that her romantic dance vision would give her the strength to change the way the LGBTQ+ community is represented: “I Average air they send a clear signal of strength to the entire community and at the same time to myself: I translated the expression that I was looking for in dance music when I was young, seeking reassurance both in being a lesbian and, above all, in want and be able to deal with this feeling as normal.”

Something that pop music probably still isn’t quite capable of doing: if a certain underground scene – especially across the Channel, with names like Charli XCX, Eris Drew, Octo Octa and in the past the late SOPHIE, to name a few. – rolls up his sleeves to overturn dogma, the top of the charts does not always (if not almost never) carry the message, through the most exposed artists in this sense: “It’s true, and this is also the reason why my Album embodies strong pop -spirit, almost mainstream, despite the fact that at its core there are clear club ideas,” he confirms, “and is trying to do it in order to achieve the kind of fame that might make someone like me feel the need to listen to these lyrics . Someone for whom it is important to hear a woman talk about loving a woman.” And he adds about the present and future of the issue: “There are a lot of queer artists who are working hard to convey these messages in a compelling way through music. This gives me hope and confidence that I can continue to do the same with mine. But you know, this is a very long discussion, and we could talk about this for hours: there really is still a long way to go.”

Main themes, purely autobiographical writing and the search for sincere exuberance between strobe lights and bass: after the worldwide success of xx, how much has changed with Romy?: “Now there is a great desire to free myself from this passion of mine for dance. Even in the past, when I played guitar in a band, some of the references I always carried with me were Eurodance riffs such as 21:00 (Until I arrive) ATB to give you an example. In the group, the energy of the music was more subdued, but now, although it still makes me nervous, I want my performances to give energy, redemption.” A path that, in ideas, would seem to be able to anticipate the exploits of the distinguished colleague Dua Lipa, whom Romy knows very well, since she was a co-creator (along with Silk City, Mark Ronson and Diplo) Electricity, a 2019 Grammy Award winner (coincidentally in the Best Dance/Electronic Recording category): “Ultimately, I was only a small part of the song’s success, but as an aspiring pop producer, it was incredible to see the journey it took . I think that was the decisive step that helped me understand what I wanted to do as Romy: to see her evolution, to see her so confident on stage, combining the power of her voice with the movement of the choreography. At first I didn’t believe that I could go down the same path, and my expression will of course be different: I will never do this type of show. But now I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I will do everything I can to put my best foot forward.”

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