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Jamie xx

by Mike Sunda

Special To The Japan Times

This is your third time at Fuji Rock, you must like it?

Jamie Smith: I do like it. It’s really nice out in the actual festival; backstage … not so nice! It’s a really good vibe out there, which is what really matters.

You came to Fuji Rock in 2011 by yourself to DJ…

I was on a 10-day world tour which just drove me crazy so by the time I got here I was on my own and it was actually a really good show, it put me in much better spirits than I was before.

Given that you must be so busy with the live band set, how much time do you have to work on your DJ sets?

I don’t really work on DJ sets anymore. It’s got to that point when I’m doing so many that actually each one is just working toward the next one, so I know what to do.

What’s in your crate for your Fuji DJ set?

The first record that I’m going to play is this Japanese disco thing from the 1970s by a band called Hiroshima and it’s really good.

Have you been record shopping over here in Tokyo?

I really wanted to do it in Tokyo — I’ve never done it. But I went to one of the synth shops in Tokyo today and picked up a keytar, which is fun. But I haven’t had a go at record shopping here. We’re around a bit tomorrow [in Tokyo] but if I’m going record shopping I want a lot of time.

You’ve just curated your own mini-festival, Night + Day, in Europe (Lisbon, Berlin and London), what do you look for most in a festival?

I think … most of all, just happy people. We wanted to make everyone happy and wanted it to be a very relaxed feeling, sometimes it all just feels a bit hectic. So that’s also why we wanted to just make it a one-day thing, so everybody comes and they get to go home at the end of the day. There’s no bands clashing so you can’t hear any music over the other music. And it turned out to be — the one in London especially — a really nice, British day out.

So did you have control right down to the smallest details?

We chose everything, pretty much. We got all independent food stalls, and got to choose everybody who was doing the sound … we even chose where the (portable toilets) were based!

Would you like to carry on doing that as a regular thing?

I’d like to. It’s a lot of work. So maybe we’ll just do one a year now instead of three.

You could do one in Tokyo!

Yeah, definitely! I wonder how we would do that … it’s a lot harder to communicate over here and sort things out, but it would definitely be another good challenge.

I saw you play earlier this year at the Brixton Academy (in London) and it seemed like such a big change from even just two or three years ago, in terms of confidence on stage and everything

I think it’s been a nice journey. We all feel like we’ve changed a lot just through confidence. And it’s nice to have more than just one album’s worth of songs to draw from.

Obviously as the venues you play get bigger you lose a certain intimacy

We try and play with it so there’s moments where we want complete silence and we want to try and create some intimacy, but then at other moments we want to create a really rave-y atmosphere.

During that gig you sort of added new beats into the middle of tracks and almost re-interpreted them live, how did that come about?

Really it keeps it interesting for us because we’re doing a lot of shows. We’re still doing the same show we were doing a year ago. We wouldn’t be inspired to make any more music otherwise. We all play off each other. We use sound checks to just work things out and play each other bits and pieces.

You’re at a point when I imagine you don’t have time to take on much remix work, how do you choose what to accept and decline?

I’ve been choosing less and less. The last thing I did was for Four Tet, I don’t really want to do anything for a while now. I was happy with that and now I’m working on my own stuff at the moment.

Like what?

I’m just making loads of music basically. Making it with some friends and with (The xx bandmates) Olly and Romy, and eventually it’s probably going to go into some sort of mixtape but I don’t know when it’s going to come out. It’ll just be ready when it’s ready.

Can you name any names?

I’ve started a track with Four Tet.

And going the other direction, what’s it like commissioning remix work for your own tracks?

We get to choose the remixers ourselves and that’s a really fun bit, because we spend so much time making every detail perfect on the album, so to let it go and let someone else do whatever they want with it is a really nice feeling. And also just the fact that we get to choose our favorite artists.

Is there anyone left you want to remix your work?

I think we’ve pretty much had all of them. Maybe Atoms For Peace would be a good one at the moment — they did a remix for Four Tet that was really good.