If you were an indie-rock fan living in Los Angeles during the Summer of 2010, there’s a decent chance you were influenced by a hit song called “Young Blood.” After all, this critically acclaimed track by The Naked And Famous did go on to sell over one million copies in the United States alone. It also sparked a series of controversial debates on social media as many of their supporters began to quarrel with legions of hardcore MGMT fans regarding who exactly was responsible for curating the new sound of synth pop.
I distinctly remember reading those comments on YouTube. They were quite entertaining. As I sat in my room with my eyes glued to my computer screen (eating from my imaginary bucket of popcorn), I never thought in a million years that I would have the chance to attend an intimate concert experience by The Naked And Famous at a Levi’s Haus of Strass show in Hollywood, California several years later. But sometimes irony creates the most opportune moments. So in that sense, a one-off collaboration between the Australian indie band and the American jeans company, Levi’s, made all the sense in the world.
That’s because the foundation for this one-night event began about five years ago when the co-founders of The Naked And Famous (Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers) were randomly invited to procure some merchandise at the Levi Strauss & Co factory in San Francisco. A half a decade and a couple of free swag bags later, Levi’s reached out to the duo, once again, with an opportunity to promote the July release of their new album (Recover) with a special live event for their fans.
The two original members of The Naked And Famous played a live set in the small living room area at Levi’s Haus of Strauss. Their show featured three songs: Bury Us, Sunseeker and Young Blood. During this performance they were accompanied by Luna Shadows. A young pop singer responsible for co-writing and co-producing their fourth LP. The collaborative effort with Luna Shadows marked the first time that The Naked And Famous worked with a producer outside of their two-piece band for the making of a studio album. Not only did this move add a new perspective to their songs, it also helped them highlight the significant contributions that have been made by female musicians during a time when there haven’t been a lot of women singers fronting rock bands.
That’s a sentiment that is very important to Thom Powers. “On one hand (having a female lead singer) has helped us infiltrate this cultural landscape,” said the band’s lead guitar player and back-up vocalist. “We have seen the difference from 2010 to 2020…like just in attitudes and awareness (toward female singers).”
The international success of The Naked And Famous has led to collaborations with clothing brands such as Levi’s and their notoriety has created a platform for both of the musicians to talk about the social changes in the music industry that they are excited to be a part of.
“I feel really privileged because growing up there wasn’t a lot of representation of Asian women fronting alternative bands,” said Xayalith. “Now, in 2020, as I’ve gotten older I feel like there is more of a camaraderie between Asian creatives…and it feels way less lonely and I’m just thinking like…man…I wonder how much growth I would have had if this was the type of culture I grew up with and how different would my experience as an artist be if I had this type of cultural reference point. Representation and diversity is so important and I am just so happy that I can be a part of it.”
Since the debut of their hit single “Young Blood,” The Naked And Famous have been a part of a few cultural shifts in the music industry just by being themselves. Their influence on the indie rock scene in America ultimately resulted in their relocation from the continent of Australia to the city of Los Angeles back in 2012 (where the two former college classmates have remained ever since).
While their flare for fashionably loud clothing and vivid music videos have helped them garner the attention of one of the biggest names in the denim industry right now. Sometimes when artistry meets irony, it can become a polarizing moment for recording artists. And other times? These moments can lead to an exciting opportunity for their fans to partake in a personable experience with free giveaways from Levi's at a live show where their favorite indie rock band plays a small set list of their hit songs...all while decked out in colorful custom made denim outfits. In a typical fashion, The Naked And Famous always seem to find creative ways to promote new music to their fan base.