Meet the Cardiff journalism finalist hitting the airwaves in America

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There are many people who go to uni thinking they can do something that they perceive to be really cool – play in the Varsity rugby team, become a notorious womaniser, or you could be in an exciting new band.

But people like Skip Curtis, member of XY&O, show what happens when you follow through with your musical endeavours.

XY&O are a beach-pop band that ooze a chilled-out tone and ear-pleasing melodies – basically, it’s plentiful in summer vibey-ness.

And now his band is being played on the actual radio in the America.

Skip (middle) alongside his band-mates in a press release shoot.

Skip (middle) alongside his band-mates in a press release shoot.

With their first single Low Tide hitting radio airwaves in America and generating interest from major record labels, Cardiff JOMEC student Skip chatted to The Tab.

While originally being created to write for other people, the setup of Skip on vocals & production, Reading Uni finance student Nick Kelly on guitar, and Tudor Davies on keyboard quickly became something bigger.

‘Diff-resident Skip tells me how it all started: “We posted a couple of tracks online and they must have been blogged or something, because all of a sudden we had guys from college radio stations in Seattle, Florida and Oregon emailing us asking when we were playing in the States!?”

“We thought we should maybe pursue the idea of a band after that.”

Of course, many students can only imagine how a day in the Bute can be off-set by hearing that record labels such as Sony and Warner are keeping tabs on your bedroom music project. “It’s always good to hear your music is getting played anywhere! The US stuff is great but their radio network is so vast that it’s pretty hard to gauge the reaction.

“The record companies are cool too. It’s their job to keep up to speed with all the new so we’re just another name in amongst it all.”

Beach rock, beach setting... Warm clothes. It is Wales, after all.

Beach rock, beach setting… Warm clothes. It is Wales, after all.

Cardiff has a somewhat humdrum history of churning out musical talent. For every Stereophonics we have a Ralph Rip Shit and our nightclubs tend to fall into the trap of promoting ex-Eastenders and reality TV twats over local talent.

Although cities of similar size such as Brighton and Leeds dominate the Welsh capital in term of musical talent, Skip believes this is changing: “It does have a supply of talent. It’s a tricky one in Cardiff, there are three Universities, so three big student bodies all competing with each other so sometimes it’s hard to know where various artists have come from.

There are many adoring early-adopters

There are many adoring early-adopters

“The guys at the LMS and Xpress Radio seem to be doing an increasingly improving job at championing new music, though. And of course we have the student union which is still one of the most important venues in the city.”

With XY&O’s Shimmer + Shade EP set for a summer release, I asked Skip where to find these cool people. Unsurprisingly, the Cathays resident reminded us that up-and-coming musicians don’t actually hang out in Live Lounge.

“Womanby Street in town is pretty much the hub of all the new music coming through in the city. That little collection of venues seems to have new music on every night of the week.

“Places like Ten Feet Tall, Gwdihiw, Chapter and Buffalo are all really good spots to hear new music as well.”

The sunglasses-indoors combo is best saved for studio sessions

The sunglasses-indoors combo is best saved for studio sessions

Before letting him get back to studying the world of journalism in CF24, Skip gave a hint at any rock-star shenanigans the band have gotten up to in the Welsh capital.

“I’m not too sure! I’m sure Tudor and Nick have got themselves into a few interesting situations in the city, no doubt (especially Tudor). Me and Tude used to hang out down at an old recording studio complex in the Bay, we’ve had a few colourful nights down there.

“That area is where bands like the Manics and the Super Furry Animals record so we’d occasionally end up in some studio parties etc after wrap sessions with various artists and bands. Heavy!”