Talent exposed for all the world to see

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


In the last few years, many underground indie bands, such as American groups Foster the People and Young the Giant, have started slowly etching a presence on the mainstream music scene. Kiwi band The Naked and Famous is part of the revolution.

The band was formed in 2008 when then-students Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith recorded two EPs with Aaron Short as their engineer. The following year, Short officially joined the band as a performer, along with drummer Jesse Wood and bassist David Beadle.

'When we first named the band, it was sort of very tongue in cheek. We first started as just an indie rock band but now the name became ironic and a joke,' says Powers. 'We didn't plan to be famous.'

The band name comes from a song called Tricky Kid by British musician Tricky. But Tricky probably never imagined that his line 'Everybody wants to be naked and famous' would spread from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern and inspire this five-piece.

'[People] don't understand why we're not naked on stage though. We're supposed to be naked, right?' Short jokes.

Since the release of their first album Passive Me, Aggressive You in 2010, The Naked and Famous has snatched up several music awards and had their music featured on primetime TV shows like Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries.

'This album is a big jump from the first two EPs which were a lot more stripped back,' says Short.

'Passive Me, Aggressive You is more about the representation of the contrast within the album, like the male and female vocals, and the [comparison and contrast] with other bands.'

The band first rose to fame after releasing their popular single Young Blood. The song's catchy, synthesised keyboard riffs, teenage-love-focused lyrics and lead singer Xayalith's call-for-action vocal have struck a chord with many.

'It is a very, very simple song, to be honest. The lyrical idea is what people understand it as,' Powers says. 'It was never tricky, or meant to be a secret song with hidden meaning. It's a coming-of-age song.'

Despite the group's breezy attitude to their success, making it in the arts world isn't always as easy or glamorous as the band's name may infer.

Short admits 'there are challenges every day. But it's what makes it enjoyable,' he says.

In fact, Powers says sometimes it can be more frustrating when there are no challenges, because they feel like they're in limbo. 'It is nice to feel like you are working hard for something,' he says.

Following a triumphant 2011, which saw the band garner nominations and wins at the New Zealand Music Awards, and a nomination for the BBC's coveted Sound of 2011 prize, their New Year's resolution is to continue touring in 2012.

'As for the new album, we'll be working on it throughout the year,' Short says. 'But we expect 2013 to be the year when we release it.'

The Naked and Famous were in Hong Kong last Tuesday to play at The People's Party at Kitec. They will play Taipei, Jakarta, Singapore and Bangkok before heading back home to New Zealand