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Interview: Charli XCX

7 min read

Currently on tour throughout the US with fellow electro-pop act Marina and the Diamonds, Charli XCX has recently released her debut album, True Romance. The album has already produced a series of hit singles for the 22 year old English rose including Nuclear Seasons and You (Ha Ha Ha), both of which have launched the singer into the international spotlight. Charli has also lent her electronic powerhouse skills to other rising artists including the latest Icona Pop track, I Love It.

With a knack for songwriting and a confident stage persona, Charli XCX is one of the latest UK electro-pop exports on the lips of music fans around the world and 2013 is set to be the starlets year as she celebrates her debut release and a busy touring schedule.

Prior to her touchdown at San Diego’s House of Blues, we caught up with Charli XCX to talk about True Romance and her plan of attack on the international mainstream. Here is what the musician had to tell us:

Brendon Veevers: Where in the world are you talking to us from today Charli?

Charlie XCX: In Luxembourg, about to play a show with Ellie Goulding.

BV: For those who have been hiding under a rock over the past few years and who may not be familiar with Charli XCX, how would you sum up your musical style and what you represent as a new artist?

CXCX: I write emotional pop music. That’s what I love. I want to be able to make people dance and cry and the same time. I see all my songs as the color purple, they’re rich and lush and romantic. I want to bring raw emotion back into pop music.

BV: What is the meaning behind the ‘XCX’ in your name?

CXCX: It was my old MSN screen name when I was a lot younger. I used to sign off with ‘xcx’ on the internet. It means kiss charli kiss. It’s cute.

BV: You recently released your debut album, True Romance. For those who haven’t heard the record yet, can you tell us a little about the album and what they might expect from the collection of songs on the record?

CXCX: All of the songs are about love and romance. It’s love from all different viewpoints. I feel like I’ve really grown up through the process of writing this record and my views on love have changed as I’ve experienced different kind of love… so it’s about that really. I think love is so schizophrenic, there’s this super dreamy walking on clouds kind of side to it and then there are the moments when you’re sad and alone and crying all the time…. I don’t think romance is ‘true’ unless you have both sides of that… the album reflects that I think… there’s a dark and a lighter side.

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BV: How do you feel now that True Romance has been released?

CXCX: Scared. I have been making this album for so long… it’s weird that its now out in the world. It’s like my child. I feel excited. I can’t wait to tour it. I want to make the live show 10 times better than the record.

BV: How did you celebrate the big day?

CXCX: Haha… ummm… I can’t really remember these past few weeks have been such a whirlwind… I think I went for sushi… nothing too wild.

BV: What is the meaning behind the album’s title?

CXCX: I think love is so schizophrenic, there’s this super dreamy walking on clouds kind of side to it and then there are the moments when you’re sad and alone and crying all the time…. I don’t think romance is ‘true’ unless you have both sides of that… the album reflects that I think… there’s a dark and a lighter side.  That’s why I chose that title.

BV: There are so many songs that resonate with us on True Romance but Stay Away would have to be one of our favorites. Can you walk us through the inspiration behind this track?

CXCX: Well it was the first song I wrote for the album.. it was definitely the first song I wrote when I felt I really found myself and my style. Writing that song was a real moment for me. I had felt really lost before that and was beginning to fall out of love with music but then I wrote that song with Ariel Rechtshaid and everything changed. Stay Away is about craving someone… but they don’t want you back. It’s about obsession, like unhealthy levels of obsession with someone.

BV: You dabble in hip hop quite a bit throughout True Romance with some impressive rap moments. Would you say there an inner Nicki Minaj or Lil Kim persona eager to jump out?

CXCX: Haha… not quite. I was really inspired by Uffie when I was younger… she was my first musical love. I love the way she raps. I was also really obsessed with Blondie’s rap in Rapture. They are more my rap inspirations rather than Kim and Nicki.

BV: You have released several singles and 2 EP’s in the years leading up to True Romance. Why such a delay in getting a full length album out and what was it about 2013 that made you finally take the plunge?

CXCX: Well, I just wanted to get it perfect. You only get one shot at a debut album and there were a couple of times when my label were pushing me to release it, but I just wasn’t ready, so I held it back… and I’m glad because I got the time to make the changes I needed to make. And now I’m 100% happy with the album. I love the record. I’m proud of it. I did not want to spend a year of my life promoting a record with bits that I hated on it.

BV: Did you grow up in a musical family?

CXCX: My dad was a small time promoter in the 70s. That was about as musical as my family were. I didn’t grow up listening to anything cool like the Beatles… my parents just let me do my own thing when it came to music. I used to just play a lot of Britney and the Spice Girls. My mum also listened to Bread all the time. They were always playing in the car. I kind of like Bread actually.

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BV: What artists would you say have made the biggest impact on you as a recording artist?

CXCX: Definitely Kate Bush, The Cure and Bjork. I remember when I bought my first Kate Bush record and going home and listening to it… I was totally blown away. I bought The Sensual World because I fell in love with the album cover. It’s still one of my favorites. The Cure, because I think Robert Smith is the most romantic man ever, and Bjork because… well.. .she’s Bjork.. she’s fucking amazing.

BV: If you were offer the opportunity to collaborate with anyone in the music industry, dead or alive, who would be your Top 3?

CXCX: Bjork. Robyn. Bow Wow Wow.

BV: You have been busy touring Europe this year and you will be in the US following your European dates.  What can fans expect from one of your shows?

CXCX: Energy, and lots of drama. It’s very passionate. Sometimes I get really angry on stage, and sometimes I get really sad. I completely loose myself.

BV: How have the fans been responding to the album since you have been on the road?

CXCX: It’s been cool. I did a crazy show in Manchester in the UK which was so surreal… everyone knew every word and everyone was going crazy… it was kind of freaky but sort of sweet… it’s odd seeing everyone singing your thoughts back at you.

BV: Where are you most excited about visiting while you are on tour in the US?

CXCX: Miami! I’ve never been and I’ve heard they throw good parties there.

BV: Apart from promoting your new album and touring the globe, is there anything else on the Charli XCX calendar for 2013?

CXCX: Write the 2nd album!

BV: Thanks Charli and good luck with the tour.

CXCX: Thanks

Charli XCX’s debut album, True Romance, is out now.