Los Angeles brother-sister duo XYLØ (better known to their friends and family as Chase and Paige Duddy) shared their debut EP America on February 26th. Slated to bring their hazy, lustful pop songs to five SXSW shows this week, AMBY invites you to meet the band in our exclusive interview. Enjoy our conversation below as we discuss writing personal lyrics, custom license plates, their minimalist studio, bands they love, and plastic bear heads. America is now available for download via iTunes here.
AMBY: Hi you two! It’s Alicia from AMBY. Thanks for taking the time to have a chat today.
Paige Duddy: It’s nice to meet you.
AMBY: You too. It’s an exciting time for you as your debut EP America has finally been unleashed to the world. Congratulations. What did you do to celebrate its release?
Paige Duddy: Thank you so much! We had an EP release party, so we invited a bunch of our friends and family and everyone who works with us. We kind of celebrated that way.
AMBY: How long were you both working on this debut for?
Chase Duddy: We were working on the actual EP for the last year, and working together for two years.
AMBY: It must have felt so good to finally have been able to share it after two years’ worth of writing.
Paige Duddy: Yea [laughs]. We’ve been really eager to get it out there. We’re really excited.
AMBY: You’ve before shared how each song from the EP is like a mini chapter of your lives. When talking about themes of love, heartache, and anxiety, has it ever been hard for you to let down that wall of privacy when writing?
Paige Duddy: Not really; over the last two years that me and Chase have worked together, we got really comfortable with each other and we don’t really hide any of our emotions when writing songs because we want to give the songs everything that we have.
AMBY: Does it go the same way, knowing that your fans will be hearing these private lyrics as well?
Paige Duddy: Exactly. I feel comfortable letting people know how I’m feeling [laughs].
AMBY: The EP was created in Chase’s home studio. Take us into your studio for a moment – what does it look like? What’s in the room? Do you have any cool things hanging on the walls?
Chase Duddy: We’re in here right now, actually! The only cool thing I have hanging on the wall is a faux, plastic, black bear head with a black rosary hanging from one of the ears. That’s pretty much it.
AMBY and XYLØ: [laughs]
Chase Duddy: It’s all white. I have sound panels on the wall that are all white.
Paige Duddy: There are a lot of guitars.
Chase Duddy: Yea, there are a lot of guitars. It’s very minimal, but it’s nice. It’s brand-new and I built it when I moved into this place. The studio is a single car garage, that’s the size of it, and there is a big sized vocal booth in the back. If you could picture my gear set-up, I’m facing looking out at the garage door if that makes sense.
Paige Duddy: You wouldn’t know it was a garage.
Chase Duddy: It’s totally professionally done and sound-proofed. It’s pretty minimal, but it gets the job done.
AMBY: Tell me about the story behind that plastic black bear head.
Paige Duddy: That thing has travelled with you.
Chase Duddy: [laughs] Yea. Me and my finance lived in Hollywood all of our twenties and decided to move back out of the city towards the Calabasas area where we both grew up. I found a log cabin for rent online in Malibu Canyon, so we moved in there and lived this rustic cabin life where there were alpaca that lived on the property and chickens. We kind of experimented that type of lifestyle for a year and that’s when Paige and I did our first XYLØ song together. It kind of just had that vibe, so I got this black bear head which I found on Etsy.
Paige Duddy: It’s probably good luck, to be honest.
Chase Duddy: It worked in a rustic environment, but also this really modern vibe of my studio. That’s the only thing that’s hanging on the wall.
AMBY: When more live shows come around for you both, you should start using the bear as your mascot.
Chase Duddy: We should.
Paige Duddy: It’s actually made a couple of our press shots.
AMBY: Your band name comes from the license plate of your xylophone-playing grandfather. If you could custom make license plates for yourselves, what would you want them to say?
Chase Duddy: That’s a curveball. I don’t know.
Paige Duddy: I would want it to say XYLØ, but I don’t know if it’s taken. It was his license plate years ago, but it’s not anymore obviously. I’d have to think about that one!
AMBY: I noticed how for your Twitter description, it’s extremely simple as it’s just “Sister | Brother”. Growing up together, what were your music tastes like – did you both listen to different genres of music or were you kind of on the same page?
Paige Duddy: Yes and no. We’re ten years apart so we kind of grew up listening to different artists. I was really into pop music so Ashley Simpson and Hilary Duff are huge influences on me. As funny as it sounds, I learned how to sing from an Ashley Simpson album. I did grow up listening to a lot of classic rock with my dad and my grandpa. My dad’s favourite band is Led Zeppelin and that’s one of mine, too. Also hip hop, that’s one thing that me and Chase listen to a lot together, even though I was really young. It does influence a lot of our music.
AMBY: Was that more so old school hip-hop or early two thousands stuff?
Chase Duddy: Late nineties and early two thousands. My first albums that I got were Weezer, Rage Against The Machine, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana – the alternative/grunge kind of scene. Those are the first things I remember playing drums to when I was eight or nine years old. The hip hop I started on was Dre, Snoop, DMX, Jay Z, Kanye…
AMBY: That’s awesome. I love DMX. Now that you’re spending more time together, are your tastes more so on the same level?
Paige Duddy: I’d say we listen to a lot of the same music.
Chase Duddy: Definitely. What we just described to you was two people growing up ten years apart. What was hot at the time was totally different.
Paige Duddy: But now, everything we listen to is current –
Chase Duddy: And older stuff.
Paige Duddy: Now we’re more on the same page.
AMBY: Outside of creating music, what do you both enjoy doing for fun?
Paige Duddy: I really like dogs, so I like hanging out and playing with dogs. I really like fashion, so shopping?
AMBY: Do you own any dogs?
Paige Duddy: I do! I had a golden retriever who was my best friend, but he passed away –
AMBY: I’m sorry.
Paige Duddy: I now have a chiwawa. Now he’s my best friend.
AMBY and XYLØ: [laughs]
AMBY: How about yourself, Chase?
Chase Duddy: I have two dogs, one was kind of adopted by our in-laws as I just had a baby who’s now four months old.
AMBY: Aw, congrats!
Chase Duddy: Thank you. I also have a little yorkie. As far as hobbies go for me, since we’re so busy, it’s mainly hiking and walking around and hanging out with my kid. That’s pretty much all I have time for.
AMBY: To wrap things up, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans who will be reading our interview?
Chase Duddy: Thanks for the support.
Paige Duddy: Yea, we love them so much and we really enjoy talking to them every day. They’re our best friends. Thanks to them for buying our music and sharing it.
AMBY: I love it – great parting words. Thanks so much for speaking with AMBY today, Chase and Paige.
XYLØ: Thanks Alicia!
Thank you XYLØ, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout