In 2010, New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous released their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You and immediately hit it big, topping charts and finding themselves on a months-long world tour. Three years later, the band is back on the road, touring in support of their sophomore effort, the pop-tinged rock album In Rolling Waves. The BBC called it the number one record in the world, and now the group is traveling around the globe through 2014 in support of the album.
DuJour caught up with singer and noted clotheshorse Alisa Xayalith to talk about moving to Los Angeles, life on the road and what exactly should go in a singer’s suitcase.
How did the band come to be?
I feel like it’s been such a long journey. Ever since I was a young child I’ve wanted to be a singer. I had tried writing songs in my room with a guitar—singer-songwriter type songs—but it wasn’t until I enrolled in music college and met my band mates and hit it off that we started the band, the first band I’ve been in. I’ve been fortunate that things have gone so well.
You were pretty successful out of the gate with your 2011 debut Passive Me, Aggressive You. Was that expected?
It was completely unexpected. When we were recording, we were just doing it for the hell of it. Leaving New Zealand wasn’t an end goal; all we wanted to do was make an album.
What’s different about In Rolling Waves?
This album was a graduation from the last one in terms of production, songwriting and emotional content. It’s quite an emotionally heavy album, and that’s challenging people because a lot of the tracks aren’t just instant gratification. It’s a real album you have to listen to from start to finish. We feel very accomplished to have made something like this.
How did writing the album in L.A. affect the music?
I do know that changing environments can change you, but in terms of making music for me, it’s such an internal process and what I write is what’s going on in my head, so I’m not necessarily being directly inspired by the room or the city or the country that I’m in.
You guys are on tour, going around the world into next year. What’s it like being on the road that long?
It’s not as luxurious as it sounds. Traveling and being constantly on the move can be really exhausting; sometimes touring can feel like an endurance test. But we’re in such a privileged position that we get to see places we’d never otherwise see and meet people we’d never otherwise meet. It’s a double-edged sword.
You’re into fashion. How do you pack for a tour like this one?
I’m in the middle of doing that right now. I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist when I’m traveling. And in terms of stage wear, everything has to make me feel confident and has to feel like a second skin. I need to be able to really perform. So half of my suitcase is pieces for stage and the rest is shoes. I’m really still figuring it out. I recently went to Topshop and bought a whole bunch of black drapey things, but the most important thing for me is footwear. I have a fetish for black boots; my collection is getting out of control. And I wear a lot of pieces by designers from New Zealand, so it’s nice to always have a piece of home with me.
For tour dates, click here. Watch the video for “Hearts Like Ours” below: