Charli’s career began at the age of 14. During the day she’d be at school - she loved art, hated music - and afterwards she’d write songs and produce raw demos in the bedroom of her parents’ house. By night, she’d be in London in a “colourful, glittery world that didn’t really mean that much, but never claimed to either”.
In 2006, when Charli was 14 she organised her live performances through MySpace and regaled crowds with “nursery rhyme-esque rap pieces with me shouting ‘DINOSAUR SEX!’ while standing on a crate in a warehouse”. As a live promoter her dad had, once upon a time, booked acts like Bob Marley and Siouxsie & The Banshees at his club nights, but even he couldn’t prepare Charli for the parties she found herself performing at. She started performing such material as “Chas’s Song” from her debut, but later grew discontent with such music and wrote new songs, like the aforementioned “Dinosaur Sex!” and “I Wanna Be Darth Vader”.
Soon songs called things like ‘Art Bitch’ and (in reference to a friend of hers from school) ‘!Franchesckaar!’, created quite a buzz even extensively soundtracking catwalk shows in London and New York for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Victoria’s Secret For Interview magazine, she was photographed by David Bailey. These were exciting times, and then… she’ll admit it now - she just hadn’t found the aesthetic she was content with yet. Around this time, however, she stopped focusing on her gigs and started working with a huge list of musicians and producers - everyone from MachoPsycho (P!nk) to Matt Squire (Katy Perry, One Direction, Ke$ha), Greg Kurstin (Sia, Lily Allen) to her friend MNEK (Little Mix, A*M*E). The majority of these songs are still unreleased, but with the international success of “I Love It”, she is still eager to give more of her brilliant songs away for other artists to record.
Charli met Ariel Rechtshaid on a trip to LA and wrote and recorded ‘Stay Away’ in their first morning together. The song marked a turning point, going a long way to defining her sound and causing blog fever when posted on line. Soon afterwards she travelled to Sweden to work with Patrik Berger who sent her some tracks the day before the session. She was instantly captivated by one of them, wrote to it all night in her hotel room, and the next day turned up to meet Patrik with ‘You’re the One’, another key release and now a live favourite (She also wrote the global hit Icona Pop song ‘I Love It’ that same night). As Charli hit her stride she grew to realise that her early stuff - the parties, her low-key, Indie releases, the jumping up and down shouting about dinosaurs - wasn’t a false start, just a chance to experiment when nobody was looking. “If I’d rushed to put out more songs when I was younger I know I’d be regretting it now,” she admits, “but I know that I’ll never fall out of love with ‘Stay Away’.”
2011 and 2012 were all about perfecting the sound, and honing her impressive live show. The Alex Metric collaboration ‘End Of The World’ created the right ripples in the right places, while the low-key release of ‘Nuclear Seasons’ (complete with a video made by Charli and her film-maker boyfriend over a weekend in Wales, that brought Charli’s vision to life in broad, epic, colourful-but-distressed strokes), as well as contributing a song to the soundtrack of British movie Elfie Hopkins all added to Charli’s momentum. “Some of my music is still very teen orientated - I’m still pretty much a teenager - but there’s love in there and darker thoughts in terms of relationships,” she says of her album True Romance, due out later in the year. “And there are still couple of fuck you songs on there - I have a lot of up days and a lot of fuck-the-world days, so there are party jams and dark warped depressing songs.”
In 2013 XCX sees herself slotting in alongside sparky teenage girls who grew up in the shadow of the Spice Girls - think artists like Grimes and Sky Ferreira, and who seem inspired by the useful bits of girl power. “90s kids are pretty fucking cool when it comes to music,” Charli notes, “and pop’s being taken seriously again now, which is exactly what it deserves”. As she plans yet another North American tour, she continues to aim high, recently hinting at the possibility of yet another release - in her own words, “Rihanna style”.
Edited by ARTP0P_ on 9 Aug 2013, 17:33
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