LIVE! REVIEW & INTERVIEW: XYLØ (Mercury Lounge 12/15/2015)

1/09/2016 Tunes For Loons 0 Comments

Tunes4Loons has been following XYLØ and their brooding pop for an indie eternity (9 months), so naturally we freaked over the chance to see them live last month. This was their first New York gig, and they did not disappoint. Not only did they bring a stellar performance, they let us black out with them afterwards. Plus they were so kind and gave us an interview. Here are some notes on our almost-"Almost Famous" evening.

The band goes on promptly at 8pm. The crowd is filled with hipsters, Robert Pattinson (no lie), and a lot of A&R people. For those who don't know, A&R = talent scouts from record labels. I identified these people because they were old men wearing suits. Who knows though, maybe the partners at Goldman Sachs just have hip taste in music. Anyways, XYLØ's music was as magical live as on record. Paige Duddy's voice sounded exactly the same. For as tranquil as their tracks seem ("America", "Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea"), they did a great job of pumping the crowd up. Very high energy vibe in the room. Or they spiked our drinks with molly. There was a more rock vibe to their older tracks, but I suspect that will fall to the wayside as they build a longer set-list.  

Something that really stuck out to us was their command of the stage. Paige's stage presence literally was the inspiration for Beyoncé's "Diva". And her trendy outfit only perpetuated her air of sass. She wore a Steve Jobs turtleneck and rocked the black leather pants like Ross Geller never could. I found myself distracted by whether her boots went under her pants, or she had fashioned some sort of leather pant-boot garment*. We asked her later about this, no joke, I was that determined to know the truth. They were two separate items, just destined to be paired together.

*Laugh at me now, but in 5 years one of the Kardashians will actually be rocking a pair of bants (no, poots, I like poots better), mark my words. 

After the show, we kicked our "stalk the band" mission into high gear in pursuit of an interview. I swear we were acting like Anderson Cooper after he's choppered into a Middle Eastern city by CNN. Once we made contact with Paige, she was the shit and let us put drinks on the band's tab. We were eternally grateful and now sufficiently drunk. Like young #professionals.

In the next chapter of this stranger-than-fiction night, they invited us to come back to their hotel with them and their entourage. Since we didn't care about the consequences of hangovers or our dignities at work the next day, we went with them. Our quest for an interview continued. Instead of getting it, we drank 15 vodka sodas at the hotel nightclub and gushed over band member's pics of their babies. To sum up the night, everyone was lovely, and we were boozy monsters. Honestly, their manager probably conspired with the bouncer on how to throw us out, but in the nick of time we left voluntarily. We think. Work the next morning was worse than going to a DMB concert sober. We didn't get our interview this night, but Paige and Chase filled out our questions and emailed them back to us (angels!):

T4L: How did you decide to pursue a musical career? Did you grow up playing music at all?
Chase Duddy: We grew up in a family of professional musicians. I started playing the drums from the moment I could hold drumsticks. Our grandfather Joe Porcaro (a jazz drummer/percussionist) has been my teacher and mentor since day one. He, along with our uncles (Jeff, Mike, and Steve Porcaro), and a few others were the ones who inspired me to pursue music as my career. I started making money as a drummer as a early teen doing recording sessions and playing live gigs, tours with different bands and artists. It wasn’t until I was in my early to mid 20’s that I started getting into producing, composing and playing instruments other than the drums.
Paige Duddy: I always loved to sing growing up, but it wasn't until around 18 that Chase and I started working together in the studio and something clicked. He was already a professional drummer and producer, so when we got together he was able to sort of show me the ropes. It wasn’t long after us collaborating that our music got placed in some adverts and I realized I could actually pursue this full time.

T4L: What are your musical influences and idols? What did you grow up listening to?
Chase: Theres been so many different phases I’ve gone through over the years that I think has influenced me. Classic rock, motown, hardcore, hip hop, jazz, pop. People like John Bonham, Jeff Porcaro, Kanye, Michael Jackson, John Lennon. I think for the most part Paige and I like the same music though.
Paige: My grandfather, Joe Porcaro, has always been a huge influence to me. He was the reason I initially felt a passion for music. I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop, rap and pop music. Chase and I grew up listening to many different artists, from Kanye to Led Zeppelin, but we have a very similar taste in music and pretty much share the same Spotify playlists.

T4L: How did you come up with your stage name?
XYLØ: It was our grandfathers license plate in the 70's . Short for xylophone.

T4L: How has being related affected the dynamic of the band? Do you think you're more honest with, and critical of, each other as a result?
Chase: Definitely. Artistically, we like a lot of the same things. We're very collaborative but at the same time can be pretty blunt with one another. When being in the studio I think its important to have a comfortable atmosphere. Its hard to have that experience when working with someone you don’t really know. You can’t really be as honest as you can with your sibling. This isn’t always a good thing ;)
Paige: We can tell each other to calm down if need be cause we're siblings. Overall we have grown to be a lot more patient with each other over the last 18 months.

T4L: What is your writing process like? Solitary or more collaborative?
Chase: Collaborative. Most of the songs so far we’ve written with our guitarist, Lee. The production/mixing ends up being very solitary for me. It gives me the time to experiment and not feel rushed.
Paige: Each one of us bring something different to the table and it’s the unique chemistry that we have that seems to be resonating with our listeners.

T4L: We've noticed there's a melancholy tone to your music and we feel like it's unique compared to other stuff we see out of L.A. Do you feel like your sound is different than most of the acts coming from SoCal?
Chase: Haven't ever thought about that honestly. I think were just making music that we want to listen to thats true to who we are. We're not trying to be pop, brooding, or fit into a genre.
Paige: Yes because I think we challenge the stereotype of a typical band from California. We have love songs about LA but they don't always have a happy ending.

T4L: As an artist, what do you think is the most valuable thing about social media? To get your music to reach a wider audience or to see the reaction to what you've put out there?
XYLØ:I think both are important but at this point we are definitely trying to reach a wider audience.

T4L: We've noticed you're really interactive on social media (thanks for that by the way!), do you feel like seeing people's reactions/positive and negative feedback influences your writing process?
Chase: Not necessarily. We're conscious of the comments and appreciate all the support that we receive, its been really positive. But either way, that doesn't sway our writing process.
Paige: We are extremely appreciative of people going out of their way to leave a comment or like a photo, so yes we do our best to reply. We can't ever let positive or negative feedback affect our writing. We've been true to ourselves up until this point, and we'll continue to do so!

T4L: You just signed to Sony! What's next now that you've signed? Do you have any plans for an EP or tour?
XYLØ: Yes! We're going to release our EP in early 2016 with some music videos. There will be lots of live shows and touring eventually.

T4L: Do you get stage fright? If so, how do you deal with it?
Chase: For the most part no. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been doing this for a long time. If anything I get more nervous about having technical issues with electronics during our show. I do like to bring a tequila on stage with me though.
Paige: I get a little nervous. One vodka tonic before the show and a few deep breathes when we walk on stage

T4L: What are you listening to right now?
Chase: Travis Scott - Piss on Your Grave (feat. Kanye West)
Paige: I'm in a car in London and I'm listening to some remix of Hello by Adele on Kiss FM.

T4L: If you could collaborate with one other act, who would it be?
Chase: Lana Del Rey
Paige: Kanye West


Would you rather...

Wear oven mitts for a year or ski boot?
Chase: I can't make music with oven mitts
Paige: Oven mitts.

Own an elephant-sized puppy or puppy-sized elephant?
Chase: Puppy-sized elephant.
Paige: Puppy-sized elephant.

A head the size of a tennis ball or the size of a watermelon?
Chase: Watermelon.
Paige: Watermelon.

Never listen to Christmas music again or only listen to only listen to Christmas music?
Chase: Never listen to Christmas music again.
Paige: Never listen to Christmas music again.

Live in the house of your dreams but it doesn't have internet, or live where you are forever? 
Chase: House of my dreams.
Paige: House of my dreams.

Would you rather be the famous author of Twilight or the famous author of 
every Nickelback song?
Chase: Twilight.
Paige: TWILIGHT (I see what you did there)

THANKS TO XYLØ and check them out on Soundcloud, y'all!!: