I think it’s clear that PHILTHY has a thing for postmodern electropop princesses, so it should be no surprise that we’re all about Charli XCX, the 19-year-old UK sensation that Pitchfork’s in-love-with and who’s spent the better part of this summer touring as support for Santigold and Coldplay, in addition to a handful of headlining shows. The synthetically-inclined chanteuse has released a string of digital singles, EPs, and mixtapes, and is currently putting the finishing touches on her first LP, due this fall in the UK and next spring stateside. She’s already had a big show in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection this year, when she headlined a March Making Time, supported by Bear in Heaven and Niki & The Dove. And this Monday, July 30th, she’ll be at the North Star Bar for what I’m guessing will be the most intimate show she’ll have a chance to play in the city before ascending to legit pop stardom. I recently got a chance to chat with her about what she’s been up to this year and just what inspires her.
Izzy Cihak: We’re a little more than halfway through 2012. What have been your highlights of the year thus far and what are you most excited about for the rest of the year?
Charli XCX: Doing my own headline tour in the US is pretty exciting, even though it’s pretty small still… but playing at the Bowery Ballroom and the Troubadour will be amazing coz they’re such iconic venues in my eyes. Also, I’m really, really looking forward to going on the Africa Express tour, which is basically a project started by Damon Albarn to get western musicians and African musicians working together to make awesome music. We get to all go on a train together and basically jam out for three days. I’m quite nervous about it, coz I get quite shy but, at the same time, I’m super hyped for it. And I guess another highlight for me this year was being on the cover of V magazine with Sky and Grimes. Just because its such an amazing magazine and we got to work with Carine Roitfeld. And the cover is DOPE.
IC: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I’m inclined to ask if you have any thoughts on the city. You played a pretty huge and amazing gig here earlier this year.
CXCX: You know what, when I played that show it was really weird- I’d just finished my tour with Sleigh Bells and I flew straight from Amsterdam, where we’d all partied a bit, and basically got off the plane and played the show. So I was super, super spaced out. It was really weird. I kind of felt like I was in a bit of a dream world – but one thing I definitely do remember was that the people were fucking partying hard and GOING FOR IT at my show, which I loved. Seemed like everyone was crazy – in a totally awesome way.
IC: You have quite a cool sense of style. What is it that inspires your image and the imagery surrounding you most prominently?
CXCX: When it comes to my own personal image, I’m inspired by the 90s, definitely. I love mixing the girl power/super pop style with ultra grunge. I reckon my style is Wednesday-Addams-meets-Baby-Spice. That’s what I like to call it. And when it comes to other imagery that inspires my music and my stage show – it’s mainly the French photographers Pierre Et Gilles. Their photographs are just so orgasmic and heavenly and beautiful. That’s what I strive to make my music sound like.
IC: How do you feel about your label, IAMSOUND, and your labelmates? I’m quite a fan of MEN, Florence and the Machine, and MS MR.
CXCX: It’s such a massive honour to be working with such an awesome label. I’m also a massive fan of MS MR and also Salem, as well. It’s so great because everyone is so dedicated and puts their all in, and it’s easy for me to share my ideas and get really connected with them about my music. And they let me do my thing, which is cool.
IC: What can US fans expect of your upcoming dates, both headlining and opening slots for Coldplay? (That strikes me as kind of an odd pairing but, that might just be me.)
CXCX: You know what, I would have thought that too, if I had just been listening to their first and second record, but their last record is really electronic – and I actually love a lot of the sounds they are using. Also, they’re the biggest band in the world- who wouldn’t want to support them and get that kind of stage?! When people come and see me live- I don’t know what they’ll get – I just get totally lost in what I do – I know that sounds like such a fucking cliché, but I do. I’m just up there doing my thing, freaking out, and dancing like a weirdo. It’s very exhilarating and energetic. But I guess it’s also kind of interesting to watch. Almost like an animal in a zoo.
IC: So it seems as though it’s going to be a little while before US audiences can get their hands on your debut full-length. How would you suggest they get their fix of you until then?
CXCX: I’ve got some really, really exciting projects in the pipeline, which I’m not allowed to talk about yet really, just coz nothing’s confirmed- but it basically involves a lot of free music (YAY!) but, until then, you could always go and get my ‘You’re The One’ EP or download my mix tape, ‘heartbreaks and earthquakes,’ from my website: www.charlixcxmusic.com.