Jamie xx - The sounds of a reluctant superstar DJ

He's won the Mercury Prize and worked with Gil Scott-Heron and Adele. Now Jamie xx is finally facing up to fame, says Morgan Durno

Finding yourself at the forefront of the British dance music scene can prove rather daunting, especially if you're as shy as Jamie xx. It seems like just about everyone wants a piece of the 23-year-old producer and remix artist. "I've just got a message from Thom Yorke," whimpers a third of last year's Mercury Music prize-winning outfit The xx, as he bashfully glances down at his phone. As it transpires, Jamie xx's (or Jamie Smith's) remix of Radiohead's "Bloom" has just been mastered, and it's a remix which is due to appear on the internationally renowned band's next album.

And Radiohead haven't been the only musical heavyweights desperate to get their hands on his distinctive post-dubstep treatment; since going solo less than a year ago he has worked on tracks for the likes of Adele, Jack Peñate, Florence and The Machine, and Canadian rap giant Drake. If all this wasn't enough for the nervous young man responsible for The xx's beats and production, his ever-burgeoning solo efforts reached a peak with a reprise of the Gil Scott-Heron album I'm New Here; a stunning venture which earned him a joint album credit with the American godfather of hip-hop, just months before he died earlier this year.

In the past two weeks the South-west Londoner has travelled extensively, playing his trademark broken dubstep beats, funky rhythms and spaced out melodies in DJ sets from Singapore and Tokyo, to Montreal and New York, but it's in East London's humble Hackney Wick we meet today.

We're in the studio of the visual artist Davide Quayola where the pair are working on their upcoming collaborative performance Structures. It's the debut joint project from RizLab, an organisation which aims to bring together the most innovative artists to create new and ground-breaking material.

In a one-off live experience at The Classic Car Club in London's Old Street, the producer and DJ will debut tracks from his forthcoming solo EP while digital artist Quayola works alongside him, interpreting the music visually and screening it in real time onto three giant HD screens. Guests will be treated to a four-hour DJ set amid an all-encompassing cinematic show of flowing computer-generated artwork.

Smith first became interested in Quayola, a London-based artist whose work encompasses photography, geometry, time-based digital sculptures and immersive audiovisual installations, when he saw one of his projects earlier this year in Paris. Since then, together with artists Abstract Birds, Quayola has finished creating Partitura, software which can both interpret sounds and transform them into visuals inspired by the geographic artwork of Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Oscar Fischinger.

The digital artist talks freely about the inaugural RizLab project which aims to create the ultimate in music experiences by bringing togethre progressive artists and pushing creative boundaries. "I'm really looking forward to finally seeing it, to seeing your music," he chirps gesturing towards his awkward musical collaborator, who nods sheepishly.

It seems that the only non-singing third of the indie buzz band The xx doubles up as the only non-talking half of this RizLab project, but the producer eventually opens up on the subject. "At four hours, it will be the longest DJ set I've ever done", he says.

The xx producer also describes the awe of discovering Quayola's work in Paris. "I could really see how this could be a totally immersive experience," he murmurs with discreet enthusiasm.

Likewise, Quayola is a fan of Jamie xx's. He confesses that it was his girlfriend who first got him into The xx, but adds, "It would have been difficult not to have discovered Jamie's music over the past couple of years."

He's right. As well as his and The xx's records receiving airplay all over the radio, there's hardly a BBC montage on television that hasn't featured The xx's "Intro". But as the biggest artists in the industry clamour for his personal hallmark the reputation of this producer-of-the-moment is quickly exceeding the fame of his band. After walking off with the Mercury Music Prize for The xx's self-titled debut, Jamie got to work on Scott-Heron's album of remixes. And as the buzz surrounding the award-winning indie band died down, the Jamie xx hype began to reverberate.

Yet the man himself hardly exudes the confidence instilled by a string of critically acclaimed records. "Every time you do a release it sort of stamps you with this thing, you feel like the next thing you do might just be worthless."

It seems that the huge amount of pressure that accrues when everything you touch turns to gold is taking its toll on the hottest DJ in town. How does an artist maintain creative momentum in the wake of a success that has come relatively quickly? "Making music that you love takes longer and longer in-between every release because each time you're trying to progress," he admits.

Though he "tries not to think about it", he shares the mounting burden of anticipation surrounding the sophomore album from The xx with his fellow band members, Rommy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim. "We are all very similar people," he explains. Familiarity is important to the band. The sole barrier preventing the recording of their follow-up album (already written) is the sourcing of a studio in which they'll all feel at home. They used to record in Jamie's bedroom.

Still, success has, to an extent, brought Jamie out of his shell. "It's definitely changed me. I've gained more confidence, I've had to," confesses the introverted DJ. Yet, his social profile remains in stark contrast to the buzz he's generating. "I've been forced to meet a lot more people than I ever would have liked to meet," he declares, with startling sincerity.

Garnering a reputation as the producer-of-the-moment has lured many others out from the shadows and into a spotlight that they've gone on to embrace. The likes of Mark Ronson, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland and Calvin Harris, have all gone on to become more famous than the artists they produced. But finding himself the UK's hottest commodity seems to have caught Jamie xx like a rabbit in the headlights.

Perhaps the decision to swap Smith for xx when marketing his solo work was intended to manufacture a ferocious persona more capable of thriving in the spotlight. If this was the case, it hasn't really worked. His refreshing lack of ego and insistence on sticking to what he's good at, though, points to a character that is unlikely to fall prey to unashamed over-exposure. And crucially, this might ensure him a degree of longevity in the ever fickle industry of music production. Win one of two pairs of weekend passes to Bestival with RizLab Win one of two pairs of weekend passes to Bestival with RizLab

Perhaps the fact that the only one not buying into the Jamie xx hype is Jamie Smith himself will be what keeps the producer's head above water and ultimately save the man-of-the-moment from disappearing in the waves of his own success.

Jamie xx and Quayola's RizLab project 'Structures' will be performed live at the Classic Car Club, London EC1, on Thursday. Sign up for free tickets and see exclusive Jamie and Quayola videos at www.rizlab.co.uk. Jamie xx plays Field Day, Victoria Park, London, tomorrow

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable