Written by Sina Watson
I remember the first time I saw Jamie XX live. It was August 19, 2018 at Destructo’s inaugural All My Friends Music Festival in Downtown LA. He had been on my radar as one of my must see artists, but he rarely played in the states. AMF was his second show of the year in the U.S, as he had played Outside Lands in San Fran the week prior. Seeing Jamie XX was beyond my imagination. I was so moved and speechless from what I had witnessed I physically couldn’t speak for hours. My friends continued to ask me through-out the night if I was okay, but I couldn’t find the words to describe what I had just witnessed, and even more so how I felt after.
His show was unlike like anything I had ever seen before and made me appreciate the meticulous care he put into crafting the entire journey and experience in his set. His use of black and white lighting contrasted beautifully with bright pops of colors to curate the perfect ambiance. Smoke outlined his silhouette as he turned to pull records from the crate of vinyls next to him, before perfecting flipping them onto the player. I rewatch the videos from this set on my phone at least once a week. Each time I am overwhelmed with goosebumps and emotions, as I am transported back to that day.
It’s been almost 5 years since releasing his solo album In Colour, in 2015, and I have been patiently waiting for what seems like forever for his follow up. Unlike most artists, Jamie has been, for the most part, radio silent in regards to his solo work. In 2017 he remixed “On Hold” from The XX I See You, album, which has had over 32 million listens on Spotify (mostly me tbh). Last month he joined rappers Headie One and Fred again for their track “Smoke.” Jamie’s percussion score can be heard through-out the song.
While Jamie has been testing out “idontknow,” in shows across the globe, in February he premiered the track on his NTS Radio Show set. Since then, it has been played out by Caribou on his BBC Essential Mix and Four Tet. The track features a steady stream of frustrating drums before leading into an inaudible vocal.
Along with the release, Jamie took to socials to reveal his frustrations with trying to make new music. He notes the timing of its release, coinciding with the society’s need for an outlet right now.
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I made Idontknow as an outlet for my frustration over not being able to finish any music for a while. I tried to be less precious with my ideas and just let go. I then watched this translate onto the dance floor when I started playing it out last year. Now, we can’t go out to dance and we need an outlet more than ever, I hope you dance to it at home and let go for a moment. You can pre-order the 12" now, available exclusively from independent record stores. They need our support more than ever. We’ve created a list so you can find out how you can get hold of the record via the link in bio. Special thanks to @dohertyoona. I reached out to Oona (in the blue polo shirt here) to be in my next video. She sent back these clips of her and her friends and a beautiful message that you can read here: https://youtu.be/U2NFjq5-JQM
Listen to “idontknow,” on repeat with me cause I literally don’t know what is even happening anymore. You can also pre-order the vinyl to support independent record stores during the current crisis.