In the leadup to the release of new album I See You, the xx’s Oliver Sim has revealed his struggle with alcoholism. In an interview with Pitchfork, Sim said he hasn’t had a drink in a year after his partying spun out of control in the interim since 2012’s Coexist:
I was going out a lot with the excuse that I was celebrating — “celebrating” — the past few years. Just fighting the idea of becoming an adult. Some friends had started to mellow a bit, and I didn’t want to… And with alcohol, like a lot of things, it’s all or nothing for me. So right now it’s just nothing.
Sim said separate confrontations from xx bandmates Romy Madley-Croft and Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx) helped him realize he had a problem, and that the problem was partially spurred by comparing himself to his bandmates:
The car pulls around the back of St. Paul’s Cathedral. “I was the last person to think that I wasn’t drinking… successfully,” he demurs, speaking in considered fragments. “Everyone had voiced their opinions.” He listened. “But the problem was that I was, I suppose, distancing myself, so I thought, How would they know?”
I tell him that sounds pretty telltale.
“Yeah,” he says, his soft, South London accent dropping even lower. “That’s real telltale. Romy and Jamie confronting me independently was… the last straw.”
He had also started to feel insecure about his contribution to the band. “Never mind that I wasn’t leading a very healthy lifestyle,” he says, growing quieter. “The fact that I wasn’t being creative hit harder — and kidding myself that I felt more creative with a drink in me.”
In the months between recording sessions, as his friends were working on their own projects, he became paranoid about their relationships, based on his own interpretations of texts and emails. “When you haven’t seen someone for a while, it’s so easy to project and make your own ideas about what’s going on,” he says. “I always feel like the two of them are a step in front of me in confidence and maturity. I worried that they were going in a slightly forward direction, and I wasn’t.”
He goes on to explain how not drinking has allowed him to face his anxiety head-on — “While I’m struggling more now, I am actually happier” — though he’s still figuring out things like how to go out and celebrate without having a drink. Considering the number of celebrities who’ve died this year due to complications from hard living, here’s hoping Sim can remain healthy for many years to come.