XYLO Gets Real About Life: ‘Sometimes You’re Just Surviving and Not Living’
“You can’t be free in a America” reads the most poignant line in XYLØ’s debut single, “America,” released over two years ago. This was before the political establishment took a nosedive, and it means more now than ever. But that’s the general nature of their songbook, really, as you’ll hear on tracks like “Afterlife,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and their latest single, “Alive,” which details coming to terms with genuinely living instead of just existing.
Paige and Chase Duddy comprise the synth-heavy duo, whose own journey through the muck and the mire of life is framed fearlessly in much of their work. “I went through an awkward phase where a year ago I was like, ‘Am I even having fun?’ Sometimes, you catch yourself at that point in your life, and you feel like, 'F---, I need to get out and feel and not put so much pressure on myself and relax.’ That’s what life’s all about,” Paige shares.
That feeling of invigorating wind on one's skin, the adrenaline pulsing through one's veins and never dealing in regrets took the sibling pair some time to find: “Beyond existing, a lot of times it’s surviving. So, it’s like you’re working really hard just to get by and survive and pay the bills, buy food, gas. I’m sure the person that’s just existing would rather be the one that’s just surviving and vice versa,” Chase says. “Sometimes, when you’re just surviving and not living, it can really wear on you. You’re working too hard and not getting a chance to enjoy life. You can hear that in a lot of our early songs.”
When it comes to finding inspiration, Paige likes to pop open a cold beer, and Chase figures “going out and having a good time with our friends, traveling, having some drinks, dipping your bod in some large body of water somewhere” gives him the high that he needs.
Songs with deep, gutting denotations about life, death and heartache have endeared them to millions of listeners all over the world, setting the stage for their long-awaited debut full-length, expected in 2018, with a new EP sometime in the next few months—at least, that’s the plan in this moment.
“I don’t know if we’ll do a concept album or anything like that,” Paige teases. “There will definitely be a lot more songs that sound like ‘America,’ for sure. It’s good for us to evolve and grow, and I love that song. Hopefully, we can do something like that but on a new level.”
“I would say our album is going to sound a lot like that but we’ve grown and probably have changed with what we like, sonically," Chase adds. "That’s what happens. You get bored and want to experiment and try new things. I hope we’re not going to stray too far from that. But who knows. There could be a banjo on there or some s---.”
As they poured over their catalog, which includes the grungy “Bang Bang” and the glowing, vibey “I Still Wait for You,” they quickly realized it was time for the next chapter. “The other day, we were at the studio and going through this iTunes playlist of the songs we’ve written over the past three years. It was cool to go back in time and learn to appreciate the stuff we did early on,” Chase explains.
“It’s been trying to figure out how to bring our new sounds and new inspirations to that. It’s a shame, as an artist, to make music and it just lives on a hard drive and nobody hears it. An album right now is something that’s really important to us.”
XYLØ recently teased the “Alive” music video on Twitter, expected very soon. The concept, Paige admits, has “a story behind it."
"It’s definitely how you picture or how you want it to be. It’s definitely a feel good video. It’s fun and has a lot of energy. Some of it is kind of funny, too," she reveals.
With plans to release a string of singles the rest of the year, they’ve already filmed the next single’s visual, too. “We did that within the same few days we filmed ‘Alive.’ I also don’t want to give too much away with that one,” she shares, guarded. “I’d say [the next single] is a mixture of a ballad and uptempo. It’s not as happy as ‘Alive.’ The meaning is sad...ish.”
Later this year, the duo are set to launch their first-ever headlining tour, kicking off September 6 at the Soho Music Club in Santa Barbara. The pressure is on, and they certainly feel it. “We’re going to redo some of our set, make it bigger, extend some intros and outros, make it more of our own show. We’re getting some production, some lighting and stuffing that we’re having made. Then, we’re just going to go in for a week or two of rehearsals,” Paige explains of ongoing preparations.
“We released our first song two years ago, and now just felt like the right time. We’ve built an awesome fan base, and we’re continuing to release singles,” she adds.
From the twisted beauty of “Afterlife” and “BLK CLD,” to the uplifting “Alive,” Chase and Paige have come into their own as one of today’s most underappreciated new acts. And they certainly take up the torch first ignited by their many predecessors, including their grandfather, who worked as a jazz drummer and co-founded the LA College of Music in Pasadena.
“I was a drummer, so I spent a lot of time with our grandfather. He taught me, basically. I was sitting on his lap. He was my mentor. We always lived really close to him, so my band would rehearse in his studio and had access to all his drums, snare drums, cymbals, drum heads, sticks. I never had to pay for anything. Bless him,” Chase reminisces.
“He helped us out a bunch. At one point, when Paige got older, he would give her piano lessons and stuff. We both went to the school that he helped start, as well. I went there when I was 21-22, which was a while ago. Paige ended up going there when we first started XYLØ. There’s no way I’d be where I am if it wasn’t for him," he adds. "He’s the person I blame for being a musician."
Check out XYLØ’s upcoming tour dates below:
Sept 6 - Santa Barbara, CA - Soho Music Club
Sept 7 - San Francisco, CA - Slim's
Sept 9 - Seattle, WA - Barboza
Sept 10 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore
Sept 12 - Portland, OR - Holocene
Sept 15 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
Sept 16 - Kansas City, MO - The Riot Room
Sept 17 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown
Sept 19 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
Sept 20 - Milwaukee, WI - Miramar Theatre
Sept 21 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean
Sept 22 - Pontiac, MI - Pike Room
Sept 23 - Toronto, ON - Velvet Underground
Sept 24 - Montréal, QC - Petite Campus
Sept 27 - Washington, DC - DC9
Sept 28 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
Sept 29 - Boston, MA - Great Scott
Sept 30 - Philadelphia, PA - Coda
Oct 3 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade - Purgatory Stage
Oct 4 - Nashville, TN - The Basement East
Oct 6 - Houston, TX - The Studio at Warehouse Live
Oct 7 - Dallas, TX - Dada Dallas
Oct 10 - Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
Oct 11 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar
Oct 12 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
Oct 13 - Los Angeles, CA - Teragram
10 Best New Artists of 2016: