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Indie folk sister duo Xylaroo on documenting little moments that last a lifetime


With the instinct and sensibility of a gifted storyteller, Xylaroo offer a beautiful array of slice of life stories in their songwriting. Have been performing together since they were children, Coco and Holly Chant are the perfect harmony on stage – the kind that exhilarates and comforts us like a delicate breeze entering a room.

Having lived in Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Philippines and now East London, their wanderlust spirit has gradually polished their songcraft. From their indie folk banger ‘Sunshine to their wistful new single ‘Like Planes Taking Off in the Wind’, Xylaroo’s tunes are sunbeam-filled lullabies, constantly rippling out warm embraces. Their music is an open book, marking the journeys and sentiments of life.

We recently interviewed the Chant sisters about finding their aspiration at a young age, the pros and cons of being stuck by blood and the little moments that contribute to their songwriting.


An interview with Xylaroo

How long have the two of you been playing music?

Holly: We have been playing music since the dawn of time. We are sisters so we started playing music together when we were teenagers. We started playing as Xylaroo in around 2006.

Coco: I started playing guitar when I was around 10. Holly started writing songs and convinced me to play an open mic with her. She basically forced me to sing these harmonies with her, so it all just happened from there really.

Have you guys figured out the best way to work professionally as sisters?

Coco: Absolutely not.

Holly: We’re the least professional band in the industry possibly. We’ve managed to get more organised as we’ve gotten older. Despite not always agreeing, we’re stuck by blood.

You recently released a new single ‘Like Planes Taking Off in the Wind’, can you share with us the story behind?

Holly: Coco came home one day and told me about a friend who was losing a friend to cancer, and she was spending his last weeks with him. We thought it was really sad but also beautiful.

Coco: The song is about those simple moments that last a lifetime. The ones that we hold dear. Those moments are diamonds in the rough.


Do you censor yourself in music writing?

Coco: Holly censors my inputs. But to be honest it’s probably for the best. We don’t censor our writing but as sisters you don’t really filter things. If something sounds rubbish, we always voice that.

Holly: No, I just write about what’s on my mind and things I care about.

What do you think about the band’s technical evolution?

Coco: We’ve definitely gotten better. We’ve actually started working with three really talented musicians who produced our recent releases and played on them too.

Holly: They’ve helped us develop our sound. The gigs are much more fun for us when they’re there. Check out Joe Singleton, Keir Adamson and Dan Johnson.

Are there notable aspirations that you have for Xylaroo as you look ahead?

Coco: We’d like to be out of our overdrafts but mostly, as a band, we just want to make beautiful music. But we would love to support our biggest influence Jenny Lewis (former leader singer of Rilo Kiley).

Share with us some of your biggest musical influence(s) and your favourite album(s).


Coco: There are too many, but we’ll try. Nina Simone, Elliot Smith, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Janis Ian, Johnny cash, Leonard Cohen, Whispertown 2000, Edith Piaf, Diana Ross, Fleetwood Mac, Miranda Joy, Shanua Twain, Neutral milk hotel, Tegan & Sara and the Pixies.

Holly: Here are some new bands that we are digging: Michael kiwunake, Khruangbin, Lizzo, Leon Bridges, Arlissa, Maribou State and Ibeyi.

Find out more about Xylaroo here and follow Xylaroo on Facebook

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

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