Photo by Alexandra Waespi

This article originally appeared as AUX Magazine’s August 2012 cover feature. Download and subscribe for free on iPhone and iPad in the App Store.

If you bother with a certain part of the internet on a daily basis (the same part that probably leads you to us), The xx’s anticipated return isn’t news by now.

In early June, the London, UK trio announced their sophomore album Coexist would be released on September 11. It might, with good cause, be one of the most talked about this year—2009’s self-titled debut caused an xx infiltration into mainstream-indie’s mind and sound, and Coexist, with its full evolution into the sparse, progressive dance sounds producer/percussionist Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx) has been recruited to do for the likes of Gil Scott-Heron and Drake on the side, is set to do the same.

“Ever since the record label [XL] let us use their studio recording the first album, [everything] has been just unbelievable,” Smith tells AUX in a recent interview. “We never expected any of it. Everything just seemed to happen nicely, and not too quickly, but quickly enough that it’s exciting.”

On an oversold July tour stop in Toronto, Smith, vocalist/guitarist Romy Madley-Croft, and vocalist/bassist Oliver Sim sat down to tell us about the fame, taking time off to be young, and their happy coexistence, in this four-part interview.

“When we wrote some of the songs on the first album we were like 15, 16 years old,” says Sim. “We’re in our 20s now, and been around the world a few times, and we have had that validation. It’s definitely given us a lot.” Smith says that outside expectation for album two wasn’t a problem. “I think if we’d have gone straight into writing and recording as soon as we finished touring after the last tour, the expectations might have been a barrier to what we were doing. By the time we went into the studio it just felt like it always did. The three of us just having fun and eager to make music again.”

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While The xx may have needed time away from the being a working band, they didn’t want any time away from each other. The trio talk about spending their year off living in London together.

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Smith’s rise as an in-demand DJ and producer was harder on him than the group. “The biggest challenge for me was just having to be confident solo, instead of having the other two to rely on,” he says. “I want to make sure that I get what I want, and that the artist gets what they want. It’s just a very different way of working.”

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“We’re just proud of him as a friend, and I completely appreciate that he loves constantly making music,” Madley-Croft says. Together, she and Sim say, The xx have found a balance.

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