Taking their name from the 1998 Chinese film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, Xiu Xiu formed in San Jose, California with Cory McCullough, Yvonne Chen (publisher of the indie zine Zum), Lauren Andrews, and Jamie Stewart. Before forming Xiu Xiu, McCullough and Stewart played in the band Ten in the Swear Jar. Prior to the 2002 release of their first full-length album, Knife Play (released on vinyl through Absolutely Kosher and on disc through 5RC/Kill Rock Stars), the band made appearances on numerous compilations. Shortly after Knife Play's release, Springman released a 10" collaboration between Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof. Vocalist Stewart has earned comparisons to the Cure's Robert Smith, while the band itself draws from post-punk, synth pop, and avant-garde music as well as directors and authors including David Lynch, Todd Solondz, Elfriede Jelinek, V.S. Naipaul, and Yukio Mishima. In 2002, the band issued the Chapel of the Chimes EP. The following year, A Promise and the limited-edition, mostly acoustic Fag Patrol EP arrived, and early 2004 saw the release of one of their most accessible albums, Fabulous Muscles.