The xx: Mercury Prize Winners At 21

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hide captionA trio known for its dark, atmospheric songs, The xx took home one of Britain's most prestigious awards.

Aliya Naumoff
the xx

A trio known for its dark, atmospheric songs, The xx took home one of Britain's most prestigious awards.

Aliya Naumoff

The Barclay Mercury Prize is one of Britain's most prestigious music awards. It's given every year to what critics and industry insiders deem the best album of the year. This year's 12 nominees included the folk-rock band Mumford and Sons, as well as soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae. But when the prize for 2010 was announced last week, the winner was revealed as The xx, a young trio known for making dark, atmospheric songs.

Guitarist Romy Madley Croft has known band member Oliver Sim since she was 3. She says she thinks of him as a brother, and that singing love songs to each other would be strange.

"The lyrics — everything I sing, I've written. Everything Oliver sings, he's written," Croft tells NPR's David Greene. "And we're actually never addressing each other in the songs. It's two conversations basically happening in a parallel."

The two wrote most of the lyrics from their self-titled debut album separately, typing their ideas back and forth over the Internet.

"I think we both very much enjoy our own company and work best alone," Sim says.

Sim and Croft, along with Jamie Smith, are known to be introverted performers. Each member is just 21, and Croft says they're all very shy.

"None of us are naturally born for the stage," she says. "It's something we have really worked on and really grown into."

Sim says he agrees. After the band completes its headlining tour of the U.S., its members plan to take some time off back home in the U.K.

"I think we haven't had a moment to properly stop and stay in one place for long enough time to let it all soak in and just realize all that's happened," he says.

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