The Naked and Famous

The Naked and Famous

The Naked and Famous in 2013
Background information
Origin Auckland, New Zealand
Years active 2007 (2007)–present
Associated acts Kids of 88
  • Alisa Xayalith
  • Thom Powers
  • Aaron Short
  • David Beadle
  • Jesse Wood
Past members
  • Ben Knapp
  • Jordan Clark

The Naked and Famous are a New Zealand indie electronic band from Auckland, formed in 2007. The band consists of Alisa Xayalith (vocals, keyboards), Thom Powers (vocals, guitars), Aaron Short (keyboards), David Beadle (bass) and Jesse Wood (drums).[7]

The band has released three studio albums: Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010), In Rolling Waves (2013), and Simple Forms (2016). Since 2012, the band has been based in Los Angeles.


Xayalith (b. 1986) is the daughter of Laotian immigrants, who was born in Auckland, and raised together with a younger brother.[8] Her father introduced her to his native folk music and at the age of 13 she taught herself guitar.[9] Powers had been playing in local bands since an early age after he had been taught to play guitar by his father.[10]

2007–08: Early years

The band formed in 2008 when Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith were working on what formed two extended playsThis Machine and No Light—that they recorded with engineer Aaron Short, a fellow student at Auckland's MAINZ music college.[11][1] The EPs were subsequently released on local independent label Round Trip Mars. Powers and Xayalith began performing live with Ben Knapp and Jordan Clark on bass and drums respectively, while Aaron Short became a performing member of the group. Knapp and Clark left the group in 2009 and were subsequently replaced with Jesse Wood and David Beadle.

2009–11: Passive Me, Aggressive You

After recording "All of This", the group then set about recording the single "Young Blood" and their debut album, recording mostly at home and at Auckland studio The Lab. "Young Blood" debuted on the New Zealand chart at number one on 14 June 2010—the first New Zealand artist in three years to do so.[12] The Naked and Famous released their debut studio album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, on 6 September 2010 on their own label,[13] Somewhat Damaged.[14] The album was produced by Thom Powers and Aaron Short, and mixed by Billy Bush.

On 6 December 2010, the BBC announced that The Naked and Famous had been nominated for BBC's Sound of 2011 poll.[15]

In 2011, the band garnered six nominations at the New Zealand Music Awards for Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Best Group, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Best Alternative Album and the People's Choice Award. They were also nominated for the NZ On Air Best Music Video and won the MAINZ Best Engineer Award and the MAINZ Best Producer Award.[16]

2012–13: In Rolling Waves

The band settled in Los Angeles in mid-2012 after completing touring for Passive Me, Aggressive You.[17] They had performed over 200 shows in 24 countries between 2010 and 2012. Sharing a home over the back of Laurel Canyon, they began work on writing and demoing their second album. Their intention was to record an album that could be played live, not relying on backing tracks—something the group had always eschewed.

On 28 February 2013, the band announced One Temporary Escape, a concert film recorded at The Warfield in San Francisco in 2012. It was released for free download on 18 March 2013.[18]

Entering Los Angeles' Sunset Sound studio in March 2013 with engineer Billy Bush (who had mixed the previous album), they began the process of recording In Rolling Waves. The album sessions were completed in a month and then in June 2013, The Naked and Famous headed for London where Alan Moulder spent a month mixing the album at his Willesden studio, Assault and Battery. The album was mastered at Sterling Sound in New York by Joe LaPorta, who had also mastered Passive Me, Aggressive You, and was produced by Thom Powers with Aaron Short. Justin Meldal-Johnsen co-produced two tracks with Thom Powers.

On 23 July 2013, the band revealed their new single "Hearts Like Ours" along with the release date for their second studio album In Rolling Waves, on 16 September 2013 in the UK.[19]

2014–present: Simple Forms

The band performed at Coachella in 2014.[20] On 20 November 2014, the band announced that they had begun working on a third album.[21] The band began tracking for the album in September 2015. In March 2016 they featured on the Wanderland Music and Arts Festival in the Philippines.[22]

On 3 July 2016, the band announced their new single "Higher" would be released on 7 July. Upon the single's release, the band revealed that their new album titled Simple Forms was set to be released on 14 October 2016 via their label Somewhat Damaged in conjunction with Kobalt Label Services.[23] On 24 August 2016, they released another single titled "Laid Low".[3] The album was recorded at Powers' Echo Park studio[23] and released as per the announcement.[3]

The Naked and Famous at the South by Southwest festival in 2011

"All of This" was featured in the fifth episode of the first series of The Almighty Johnsons and in the fourth episode of The Secret Circle.[24]

"Grow Old" was featured in Season 1, Episode 7 of "The Originals"

"Punching in a Dream" was featured in Season 2, Episode 5 of The Vampire Diaries; Season 1, Episode 7 of "World of Jenks;[25] and the eleventh season of Degrassi.[26] It also appears on the soundtrack for EA Sports game, FIFA 12 video game.[27] "Punching in a Dream" has also been featured at the start of The Vampire Diaries season 3 episode 11. "Punching In A Dream" is the theme song for and is regularly played in the UK reality series Made in Chelsea. It was featured in the world wide influential YouTube short documentary Kony 2012.[28] In 2012, "Punching in a Dream" was featured on the musical comedy film Pitch Perfect as well as the 2012 game Forza Horizon.

"The Sun" was used in episode 18 of the fourth season of Gossip Girl,[29] in the intro of the first episode of One Tree Hill season 9, in the end of episode 19 of the first season of The Secret Circle, in the "Moment of Truth" episode of Grey's Anatomy [30] and at the end credits of episode 2 of the sixth season of True Blood; this episode has the same name as the song.

"Young Blood"

Featured in

Also in

A remix of "No Way" is the second track on Santa Cruz electronic music producer Bassnectar's 2015 album Into the Sun. "No Way" is also featured in Red Bull's The Art of Flight,[37] it also appeared as the backing soundtrack for an advert on Channel 4, showcasing their new dramas.[42]

"Girls Like You" was featured in the 11th season of Degrassi[26] and in the third episode of The Secret Circle.[43] It also has an airing near the end of The First Time when Aubrey plays it from the CD mix she made for Dave's car as he is giving her a ride to school.

"Bells" was featured in the 12th episode of the fifth season of Gossip Girl[44] and in the 22nd episode of the 8th season of Grey's Anatomy.[45]

"Bright Lights" is featured in Need for Speed Rivals.

"Hearts Like Ours" is featured in the EA Trax for EA Sports' FIFA 14 video game.[46]


The Naked and Famous took their name from English musician Tricky's song "Tricky Kid", which is ambivalent about the notion of celebrity. In the song, Tricky quotes the line "everybody wants to be naked and famous", from The Presidents of the United States of America's song "Naked and Famous". [47]

Band members

  • Alisa Xayalith – vocals, keyboards (2008–present)[1]
  • Thom Powers – vocals, guitars (2008–present)[1][13]
  • Aaron Short – keyboards (2008–present)[13]
  • David Beadle – bass (2009–present)[13]
  • Jesse Wood – drums (2009–present)[13]

  • Ben Knapp – bass (2008–2009)
  • Jordan Clark – drums (2008–2009)

Alisa Xayalith
Thom Powers
Aaron Short
David Beadle
Jesse Wood


Awards and nominations

Year Organisation Nominated work Award Result
2010 APRA Silver Scroll "Young Blood" Won[48]
New Zealand Music Awards[49][50] Passive Me, Aggressive You Critics' Choice Prize Nominated
2011 Passive Me, Aggressive You MAINZ Best Producers Won
Passive Me, Aggressive You MAINZ Best Engineers Won
Passive Me, Aggressive You Album of the Year Won
Passive Me, Aggressive You Best Alternative Album Won
"Young Blood" Single of the Year Won
The Naked and Famous Best Group Won
The Naked and Famous Breakthrough Artist Won
The Naked and Famous People's Choice Award Nominated
Taite Music Prize Passive Me, Aggressive You Nominated
NME The Naked & Famous Phillip Hall Radar Award Won[51]
2014 New Zealand Music Awards In Rolling Waves Album Of The Year Nominated
Hearts Like Ours Single Of The Year Nominated
Hearts Like Ours Best Music Video Won
The Naked & Famous Best Group Won[52]


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  2. Brody, Caitlin (27 August 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: The Naked and Famous' New Song, "A Stillness." Listen In!". Glamour. Condé Nast. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 Geslani, Michelle (7 July 2016). "The Naked and Famous announce new album, Simple Forms, premiere "Higher" — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
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  25. "World Of Jenks " Season 1 " Songs From the Show " Ep. 107".
  26. 1 2 3 07/11/2013. "Degrassi | Degrassi Episodes & Pictures". TeenNick. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  27. Trapara, Nemanja (12 September 2011). "FIFA 12 soundtrack featuring 39 artists from 15 countries". EA Sports Football. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
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  41. "SSX Soundtrack To Feature Foster The People, Pretty Lights, The Naked And Famous And Many More". EA News. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
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  45. "Grey's Anatomy". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
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