Interview: The Naked & Famous

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At the start of September we brought news of a band from New Zealand by the name of 'The Naked & Famous'. By no means brand new, however certainly ones to look out for.

TN&F are: Thom Powers & Alisa Xayalith, along with David Beadle, Aaron Short & Jesse Wood. Their slow emergence in the UK has been helped by airplay on BBC Radio 1 (championed by Fearne Cotton of all people) They released the LP, 'Passive Me, Aggressive You' in September and we had chance to catch up with the New Zealand natives lead singer, Alisa Xayalith. Here's how it went....

(One For The People) Hi Alisa, pretty generic one to get started I know, but still kind of important, give us a brief insight into who TN&F are.....

(Alisa Xayalith) We consider ourselves a bunch of hard working people but at the same time don't take ourselves too seriously!

(1FTP) Lets talk about the album. You released two EP's before 'Passive Me, Aggressive You', how did you find the process in making the LP, from putting together an EP? Entirely different or just more tracks?

(AX) The process wasn't entirely different. The EP's were quite lo-fi in production and it was a time when we were figuring out our way around the studio. It was our first proper attempt of making finished recordings ourselves and a big learning period of songwriting and recording. Now that we're 2 years down the track since the first release of 'This Machine' and 'No Light' we've just gained more experience with our craft. Everything has just progressed in every way.

"I think people will feel differently about those comparisons to Passion Pit and MGMT when they hear the rest of the record"
- Alisa Xayalith, The Naked & Famous

(1FTP) Fan's that have solely heard 'Young Blood' and 'Punching In A Dream' will get a shock listening to the LP, it has a hint of Industrial Rock in places (especially 'A Wolf In Geeks Clothing'), is this a Trent Reznor influence? I understand you opened for NIN?

(AX) I think people will get a sense of what we are about after listening to the whole record. It's not full of 'Young Blood' type tracks, we took a lot of thought and care into selecting a track list that covered all aspects of music that we like. We really wanted to create an album that takes people to different places. Trent Reznor has definitely been an inspiration to everyone in the band, we are definitely fans of NIN and opening for them was quite a surreal experience.

(1FTP) I see the LP as a cohesive piece of work rather than a bunch of songs thrown together to keep the listener interested long enough to justify it's price. Is that something you were looking to consciously achieve?

(Alisa) Thank you. We were very conscious of putting together a body of work as true to the album art form as possible. It was something that was really important to all of us.

(1FTP) I've got to ask, MGMT, Passion Pit, Dom, are these positive or negative comparisons for you? Listening to your LP, it's all too apparent that you possess a lot more versatility than just a bunch of 'feel good summer anthem's'

(AX) I think people will feel differently about those comparisons to Passion Pit and MGMT when they hear the rest of the record. Haven't heard of Dom before, but I'll check it out. Bands will always get compared to other bands, it's inevitable.

(1FTP) How was playing CMJ Festival in New York? baring in mind it's hosted the likes of Nirvana, White Stripes, Arcade Fire, RHCP and Foo Fighters in the past?

(Alisa) Playing at the CMJ festival was our first overseas experience. It was a pretty hectic time, that was when we were just a 4 piece band. It was definitely a lot of fun and quite a whirlwind, but i think the next time we are in New York, it will be a little different.

(1FTP) Has anything new come up for you guys you feel that you can tell us at 1FTP about? Any touring etc. in the works, UK or elsewhere?

(AX) We are heading to Australia, UK, New York and LA for some shows in November. For details just jump onto our bandcamp.

(1FTP) We'll go a bit more light hearted now, we want a 5 track mixtape off The Naked & Famous, whats going to be on it?

1. How To Destroy Angels - Fur Lined
2. Fuck Buttons - Surf Solar
3. The Big Pink - Velvet
4. School of Seven Bells - Babelonia
5. Bon Iver covering Peter Gabriel - Talk to me

(1FTP) TN&F's tip for greatness...

(AX) Keep writing and recording songs and stick to your gut on what kind of people you work with.

(1FTP) The Naked & Famous are:

(AX) geeks mixed with sci-fi with a little bit of zach galifianakis thrown in.

We'd like to say a big thank you to Alisa for her time and remind you to catch TN&F live when they hit the UK for three gigs next month.

We'll leave you with the bands debut album, which you can buy when you follow the link to Bandcamp.