charli XCX

The New Princess of Pop

Words: Florian Obkircher
Photography: Warner Music

British pop star and hit-writer Charli XCX lets loose on her new album, working with Giorgio Moroder and touring with Katy Perry.

Charli XCX’s career began two years ago, when, aged 20, she wrote the mega-hit “I Love It” for Swedish duo Icona Pop while also releasing her own proper debut album, True Romance.

In the summer of 2014 she stormed her own way up the charts with her catchy number “Boom Clap”, which sold a million copies in the US alone. Charli’s recipe for a successful hit is an electronic song that has elements of both punk and pop and words bursting with youthful exuberance. It’s a mix that has even captured the imagination of disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. The 74-year-old has used Charli’s vocals on his upcoming comeback album. Her new album Sucker is out now. 

THE RED BULLETIN: Sucker sounds much more aggressive, more punk inspired than your last album. Would you agree?

CHARLI XCX: One-hundred-per-cent.

Why is that?

It’s because I was angrier when I wrote it. It came from the post I love It success. I felt frustrated that I was being asked to write the same song over and over again and I think that filtered through into my music. I felt frustrated so I fell out of love with pop music for a while and started experimenting with new sounds. I got all my anger out by going off and making punk music. That enabled me to like pop music again. I wanted to break free of it to go back on my own terms.
 

Considering your current mainstream success, is it still possible to do things on your own terms, to keep control of everything?

Yeah, it is actually. More so than ever before because I feel like, I’ve always done this my own way and I just won’t do anything if my label won’t let me call the shots, and they’ve always known that. So it’s good, I feel like I’m in a very good place and I’m happy with all the people I’m working with.
 

When you write a song, how do you decide to either give it to another artist or keep it for yourself? How was it with your single Break The Rules?

Sometimes when you write a song you’ll just want to give it to someone. With Break The Rules it felt like no one else was going to sing it as I imagined it. It didn’t feel like anyone else. It belonged to me as soon as I recorded it, so I knew from the beginning I wanted it to be mine. For me it’s whether I can see a music video in my brain, that helps me decide whether I want to keep a song for myself. With Break The Rules I did have ideas and so I did the treatment for the video myself. It all came together. 

charli XCX

Punk girl: Charli XCX turned to punk to vent her anger in order to like pop music again

It was recently revealed that Giorgio Moroder asked you to sing on his comeback album. How was it working with him?

charli XCX

“I feel like I’m in a very good place and I’m happy with all the people I’m working with”

© Getty Images 

We’ve never actually met, we’ve just emailed each other so I still don’t know what it would be like working together with him in the studio. He reached out and wanted me to work on the record. And he’s such a legend, I was surprised he’d even heard of me if I’m honest. But when I heard about the other collaborators on the album, I was definitely very happy and excited that he asked me to do it. He sent over a song that I ended up working on, maybe it’s still on the record I don’t know yet, but I was obsessed with it. But I didn’t get time to write for it and so I sent back something completely different, which luckily he liked so yeah I’m very happy to be a part of it.

He’s 74 years old. Do you see yourself on stage at that age?

It’s so hard to tell, but I think I’ll be more behind the scenes at that point I reckon. But who knows? I could just pull a long one. We’ll see.

In our last interview you told us that you gave Chris Martin advice on how to dance when you were touring with Coldplay in 2012. Next month you’re going to hit the road with Katy Perry. Any tips for her?

No, I think she’s doing just fine without any of my advice. I think she’ll be OK. I’m very excited to see it all up close, she really knows how to put on a show and create a crazy world so I’m excited to see that. To see how she makes every gig into this crazy Katy Perry land so I’m excited to see that develop.

Your song Boom Clap’s the soundtrack of last year’s hit movie The Fault in Our Stars which is basically about a girl whose biggest dream it is to meet the author of her favourite book. Has there been a novel that had a big impact on your life?

Probably Kill Your Friends, which is about the music industry. It made me not trust anyone (laughs). But it had a big impact on my life and it’s a funny, hilarious book so probably that. I wouldn’t say it made me savvier as I think I probably already was, it reaffirmed everything I knew.

If your new album was a movie, who would you want to direct it?

I think I’d probably want David La Chappelle to direct it. He’d put some pretty crazy characters in there. Or Darren Aronofsky! He’s suitably out there, pretty surreal.

 

Read more
03 2015 The Red Bulletin 

Next story