STORY WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GOLDBERG
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Jamie Smith, the British producer and DJ also known as Jamie xx, has certainly made a name for himself as the backbone of the spectral U.K. indie-pop trio The xx, even if he seemed to do everything in his power, except for helping craft attention-grabbing music, to keep that from happening.
The most reticent member of a band that famously prefers to exist in the shadows (quite literally, if you’ve ever witnessed The xx, dressed in black and tucked behind curtains of smoke, barely inhabiting the stages on which they perform), Smith — who joined the group in 2006 — for the longest time spoke rarely, and softly when he did, but was largely responsible for the skeletal-yet-intoxicating beats and textures around which his cohorts, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, swathe their haunting chords and quietly dramatic vocal interplay.
However, Smith, who is in his mid-20s, has taken a few tentative steps forward from the shadows with his concurrent solo DJ career, which brings him to Union Transfer in Philadelphia on Thursday, Sept. 4, for a headlining gig.
Smith’s side vocation, which is quickly approaching The xx in terms of popularity and buzz, has grown out of his hobby of regularly DJing at clubs after The xx shows in whatever city they’ve passed through, expertly spinning soulful and atmospheric electro, house, trance, garage and tropicalia tracks into the wee hours.
Even before that, Smith had dabbled in extracurricular activities, remixing tracks for Adele, Florence and the Machine, Radiohead and others between 2009 and 2011, and remixing the legendary jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron’s final album, 2010’s I’m New Here, for an album titled We’re New Here, which was released to wide acclaim in 2011, shortly before Scott-Heron’s death (Smith has said that Scott-Heron’s work had been a prime formative influence).
Smith has sprinkled a handful of his own tracks during Jamie xx sets, and earlier this year released some new singles he’s concocted — including the steel-drum-infused “All Under One Roof Raving,” which evokes memories of ‘90s U.K. hardcore (not the punk style, but the breakbeat-techno style that begat jungle and drum-and-bass); and “Girl,” an airy chill-out tune with billowy synths and androgynous vocal samples riding atop tidy drum snaps.
A full-length album is in the works, Smith has said, so there’s a likelihood he’ll unveil even more new material at the Philly gig — yet another opportunity for Jamie xx to let the music do the talking.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Jamie xx, with Mattis.
WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 4 at 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia.
TICKETS: Tickets are $20-$22.
INFO.: Go to www.utphilly.com to purchase tickets or more information.