Two sisters, Holly and Coco, East London-based with their hearts in Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea, but also Hong Kong and Philippines, where they grow up. A miscellaneous pop and folk that I promise, will make you groove and will intrigue you.
The 5 songs EP, ‘Wild Woman’, out now on digital store, is a splendid union of their voices, in unison, climbing beats and guitars in shades of blues. The band got started in Maidstone, Kent in the mid-2000s, but soon caught the eyes of independent label Sunday Best Records that took them under their wing in 2015. Since then, Xylaroo’s songs have received radio play, as well as invites for interviews and acoustic sessions, by BB2, BBC6, Virgin, Xfm and BBC 4.
If I have to relate a colour to their sound, I would pick orange, like the sun rising in a warm morning in a desert landscape, where the tribal element is powerful as a never ending dance. Duality and oneness in constant movement.
YMX: Hey Xylaroo, how is it going? Some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would describe yourself, in a few words?
XYLAROO: Folk-pop-rock with harmonies and interesting lyrics.
YMX: Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?
XYLAROO: Holly: I fell in love with indie bands like Modest Mouse, Rilo Kiley and Neutral Milk Hotel in my teens. I was inspired to make music of my own, to pay tribute to the music I grew up listening to and loved. It was fun to create home recordings and write songs and eventually play gigs. What first drew me to music is the same reason I love it now, being able to express myself – it’s a kind of therapy.
YMX: What would be your dream collaboration?
XYLAROO: I would love to create a song or album with my favourite band Rilo Kiley or its lead singer, the Queen of Indie, Jenny Lewis.
YMX: You recently released your EP ‘Wild Woman’. Can you tell us how that project came about?
XYLAROO: Recently released out EP ‘Wild Woman’. The project came about after working with some great musicians (Joe Singleton – lead guitar, Keir Adamson – drums and Dan Johnson – bass and keyboard). We had recorded the songs a while back along with others and life got in the way for some time. Once the pandemic hit we decided it was time to release the songs. All the songs on the EP are very different and it gave us a chance to experiment with genres and styles with friends.
YMX: What inspires your songwriting work?
XYLAROO: All kinds of things inspire my song writing, as I said before it’s like therapy. So whatever I’m listening to or watching or experiencing will go into a song – I don’t always know what the deeper meaning is until I’ve gained some distance after writing something. I really love finding out more about politics, science, anthropology ect so that goes into the songs but a lot of them from this album were about heartbreak, love and loss – universal experiences that we can all relate to. Wild Woman was more particularly about being a woman and paying tribute to the strong women in my life.
YMX: We are all missing live music at the moment. Once on the other side, which music venue would you choose for your first gig?
XYLAROO: We played a gig at Jago in Dalson, London, before the lockdown. The venue used to be called Passing Clouds. I would love to play there again as it was such a good vibe. I’m also interested in playing at Moth Club and Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney (never played those venues before).
YMX: What’s your band strategy in terms of music promotion? Direct-2-fans or via the “big dogs”?
XYLAROO: We have found a more easy going approach has worked for us lately. So definitely will be keeping our promotion Direct-2-fans. I think we have a niche sound so just want to get the music to those who appreciate it. Met so many people at gigs or on instagram who have been listening to us since our first album released in 2016. I think it’s lovely to grow a small, intimate and loyal listener base who stick with you over the years as you grow and change as a band.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future? (releases, gigs etc.)
XYLAROO: The plans are to keep making music during lockdown. Maybe with a more minimal sound – so ready to try something new and experiment and just put out music whenever it is ready. My sister Coco (The other half of the band) may be moving abroad so we may also have to figure out how that all plays out too. The future for Xylaroo is similar to most people right now – uncertain.