Charli XCX interview: 'I realised that I just wanted to be a f—ing boss'
“I don’t think people get that I want everything to be super-tacky,” Charli XCX tells me. We are conducting our interview in the back of a flamingo-pink stretched Hummer limousine, as requested by the 22-year-old. We have balloons, we have LED strip lighting and we have a magnum of cheap champagne. We are on a two-woman hen do.
As the limo winds its way through mid-afternoon central-London traffic, she explains the décor of the property she bought near her childhood home in Hertfordshire last June. “It’s an old 1920s ballroom in a wing of a mansion.” She points to the flashing neon lights that line the limousine’s blacked-out windows. “I just installed lights like these all the way around the mezzanine. There is an avocado-green carpet and I have a carpeted wall and a wall covered with palm trees and all the furnishing is white. It’s very 1970s Miami porno.” She pours me a glass of champagne before filling up her own. “It’s so bad it’s good. That’s kind of my vibe, as you can probably tell.”
Yes. A few hours earlier she excused herself from our photo-shoot to change out of an orange Moschino minidress (“I’m so sorry, but I look like a carrot”) into a pink padded tracksuit with chunky gold chain trim. “Now I’m relaxed,” she announced as she danced back in.
Though this may sound like precocious pop-star posturing, Charlotte Emma Aitchison (the XCX stands for “kiss Charli kiss”, her old MSN Messenger username) is perfectly polite. She arrived for the shoot solo and 20 minutes early, hair hoisted back into a matted topknot and with no sign of make-up. In front of the camera, she seemed fragile, tired perhaps after a late flight from Cologne, where she was performing. But safely packed into her limo, Aitchison comes alive. She ignores her constantly ringing phone and her conversation is frank and impulsive yet eloquent (give or take a few lazy swear-words). Aitchison talks very loudly and her big brown eyes barely waver from mine. She is a lot of fun. “I’m a flirt,” she says, by way of explanation.
Contrary to what she thinks, people are starting to get Charli XCX, though it has taken seven years. Aitchison has been tipped for stardom since she was 16 years old, honing her own music and emerging as a talented songwriter-for-hire. Or, as she puts it, “I would be flown out to LA and put in a room to vomit out lyrics for other artists.” It was two such sessions that resulted in her first tastes of international success.
She wrote (and sang on) the shouty I Love It for the Swedish duo Icona Pop, which sold more than two million copies in America and is now stuck in your head again. Then, in February last year, she co-wrote and provided vocals for an Iggy Azalea track, Fancy. Seven million copies sold worldwide and it was 2014’s most streamed track on Spotify in America.
Americans got Charli XCX first. In May last year, her breakthrough single Boom Clap featured on the soundtrack to the box-office phenomenon The Fault in Our Stars; in September she toured her own headline show, “Girl Power”, through North America; in December she was awarded Hitmaker of the Year at the 9th Annual Billboard Women in Music Awards.
Her third studio album, Sucker, will be available in Britain tomorrow, but it received an American release back in October. Full of catchy, scuzzy pop-punk, it was named best pop album of 2014 by Rolling Stone magazine.
“In America I get recognised in the street,” she says. “I was surprised when people from TMZ started following me around.” Given that she has been chasing fame since her mid-teens, she doesn’t seem too excited by it. Maybe the slog of actually getting there has taken its toll. “Yeah, it was incredible to be a successful artist – and not for a song I had written for someone else or was featuring on,” she says. “I felt like I really deserved it. But it’s never been about fame. Definitely not. It’s about making really good music.”
Aitchison attended Bishop’s Stortford College, a private school in Hertfordshire, from the age of four to 18. She enjoyed learning, and achieved good grades, but found music lessons “unprogressive” and vocal coaching “pointless”. Instead, she preferred art and would make bizarre performance videos with her best friend. “I made this one video where I went to Burger King and bought 25 burgers,” she says excitedly. “I then got into my bikini, stuffed the burgers in it and danced to Pon de Floor by Major Lazer.”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/musi ... -boss.html