Darker Tastes: A Preview of XYLØ

Vortex Music Magazine

Prior to their first visit to Portland, which will kick off their tour with The Naked and Famous, synthpop brother-sister duo XYLØ give Vortex a sneak peek of their music and live set.

On Wednesday, October 26, New Zealand band The Naked and Famous will stop at Wonder Ballroom in support of their latest album, Simple Forms. While this alone is an exciting return, the event is made even more special with XYLØ, a brother-sister duo from L.A. who will open the show with their own cinematic dark pop.

Paige and Chase Duddy have been making music together as XYLØ for nearly two years. Debuting with their song “America” in early 2015 (listen below), the Duddy siblings have been creating nonstop since, racking up a substantial fanbase and adding an EP—as well as multiple singles—to their growing discography.

With a sound akin to many other artists in the dark pop category, such as Lana Del Rey, XYLØ cite influences from multiple directions, creating a sound that is decidedly their own.

“We gather inspiration from everything,” Paige says. “The music usually starts with an instrumental. Chase starts it with chords or a beat. We’re heavily influenced by hip-hop music and rap, so I feel like that kind of ties in. But we’re also influenced by mainstream pop music and alternative music.”

Chase chimes in: “I’ve heard a lot that our stuff sounds cinematic, that it sounds epic. And I would love to score films one day, so maybe that’s where some of that comes from. Most of the stuff that I write is in a minor key. And most of our songs are piano driven. Just by nature, you’re gonna get a darker vibe. And that’s the sound that we’re doing.”

It’s not just the minor keys and gloomy vocals that bring that vibe to XYLØ’s sound, but their lyrical content as well.

“The themes of our songs are really sad and moody,” Paige says. “We don’t tend to write extremely uplifting and happy songs.”

Though uplifting bubblegum pop may be the sound for some, XYLØ definitely take a darker stance. The sound and mood surrounding the music will definitely resonate with fans of Lana, Halsey, Banks and other female pop artists with a less than cheery tone.

When it comes to the visual incarnations of their music, the moody tone stays relevant. In their music video for “Fool’s Paradise,” XYLØ created a moody, dreamy atmosphere using everything from the music itself to projectors and post effects. However, with their latest video, “Dead End Love,” the band took a different direction.

“‘Dead End Love’ is a little more laid back and chill,” Paige says. “[The song] has a lot of imagery behind it that describes somewhere near the beach, so we filmed in Malibu. It was a pretty simple video of me singing the song, and some bits of me in the car with another guy you can’t really see. It’s a love song.”

When it comes to the stage, the siblings take this simpler route, creating a hypnotizing albeit stripped-back vibe live. Featuring Paige and Chase themselves, as well as a backing band on keys and guitar, Paige notes that the most important thing for her is the connection with the crowd.

“Just engaging with the audience,” she says, “and interacting with the other guys on stage. We’re also working on putting together a light show of some sort.”

Despite a simple setup, it’s no easy task translating their brand of pop to a live setting.

“There’s definitely a lot that goes into the live show,” Chase says. “It’s a lot of work getting that set up: rehearsing it, making sure all the backing tracks are working and doing the right thing and that they’re all at the right level from song to song.” When it comes together though, it does so in the grandest fashion, creating a mesmerizing and memorable set.

Though there are no plans yet for a full-length album, XYLØ have been busy writing new material and plan to release more singles, one to come next month. The duo have already impressed with the little they’ve put out into the world, so anything more from them will be a treat for any pop enthusiasts.

And Paige adds: “There might be some cool stuff happening in the next few months. Just keep your eyes peeled for XYLØ.”

In the meantime, catch XYLØ opening for The Naked and Famous at Wonder Ballroom on Wednesday, October 26.

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