Working with and without his Mercury Music Prize-winning group the xx, Jamie xx established himself as a forward-thinking beatmaker and producer.
Born Jamie Smith in Putney, London, he began his musical career playing the drums, but after realizing he couldn't use his innovation skills on the instrument, he instead turned to the '80s Media Production Centre, which programmed his computer-based sounds onto electronic percussion pads, allowing him to play both live and in the studio. In 2008, he teamed up with former school friends Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft, and Baria Qureshi to form the xx, who signed to XL subsidiary Young Turks a year later and went on to record one of the most well-received albums of the decade with their self-titled debut. As well as reworking his own band's tracks, he also became a sought-after remixer for a number of pop artists including Adele, Jack Peñate, and Florence + the Machine. His atmospheric version of the latter's "You've Got the Love" sparked the interest of XL boss Richard Russell, who asked him to remix rap pioneer Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here, which was retitled We're New Here upon its release in 2011.
That year, Smith also released a solo single, "Far Nearer/Beat For," which won critical acclaim and made it to number 128 on the U.K. singles chart. Also in 2011, Smith worked on Drake's album Take Care, producing the Rihanna-featuring title track, and also worked on remixes of Radiohead's "Bloom" and co-produced Alicia Keys' "When It's All Over" for her Girl on Fire album. The following year, the xx returned with the even more polished and subdued Coexist, and Smith's remixes of "Reconsider," "Sunset," and "Missing" followed in its wake. In 2014, he returned to his solo career with "Girl/Sleep Sound," a sleek, propulsive single released by Young Turks. That year, he also released the "All Under One Roof Raving" single, an homage to rave's heydays of the '90s. In March 2015, Smith issued two singles on the same day: "Loud Places," a smoldering track featuring his xx bandmate Madley Croft, and "Gosh," a hard-hitting instrumental. Both appeared on his debut album, In Colour, which also featured Sim, Four Tet, Young Thug, and Popcaan and arrived in June 2015. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi