“Wide-open spaces and beautiful skies,” says The xx bassist and vocalist Oliver Sim, sitting poolside at Lloyd Wright’s famous Sowden House in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. “L.A. definitely met my expectations.”
When the first filmmakers moved to Los Angeles a century ago, they came for the light—that mellow gold desert light you can count on 300 days a year, an optimistic light, making silver screen idols out of Midwestern runaways and prom kings. The light is still bringing the artists, the romantics, the fantasists of all description. It brought The xx.
In order to write and record their latest album, I See You, Sim says, the band made a concerted effort to stretch themselves beyond their hometown of London, to seek out the light. “We wanted to do something new,” he says, “so we had to go someplace new, which has spilled over into the artwork and visuals.” In looking for the proper aesthetic depiction of the band’s new, expansive outlook, they called on photographer-filmmaker Alasdair McLellan. “The way he captures skies and a certain light is beautiful,“ says Sim. “And exactly what we wanted.”
For ‘On Hold,’ the first installment of what has become a music video trilogy, McLellan and the band went to West Texas in order to capture the vast skies and artistic energies of Marfa. ‘Say Something Loving,’ the next chapter, was filmed in the very parts of London where the band grew up and constructed their carefully insulated world. And, “well, Marfa, London, and Los Angeles were the cities where they wrote and recorded the album,” McLellan says, so, for ‘I Dare You,’ “Los Angeles was the perfect place.”