Q&A: Charli XCX

Charli XCX is the kind of girl that everyone wishes was their best friend because she’s not like the other girls— she’s cooler. Only 21 years old, the U.K. singer wrote the song “I Love It” for Swedish duo Icona Pop and blew up the Billboard charts. Even though Charli XCX’s debut album “True Romance” dropped last April, she’s already wrapping up the follow-up. For the D.C. stop of her U.S. headlining tour, fans eagerly waited outside U Street Music Hall as early as noon, a whopping six hours before the doors would officially open. Needless to say, Charli XCX is kind of a big deal right now.

A few minutes before her soundcheck, Charli XCX strolls into the venue looking like a total pop star in her all white ensemble, and a brown paper bag in hand. With limited quiet spaces in the small building, she resorts for sitting down in a back stairway.

Even though she’s on the verge of breaking out on the mainstream pop charts, Charli XCX maintains a level of courtesy with her fame. “Do you mind if I eat this while I’m talking to you?” She unwraps some foil from the bag to reveal a chili dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl, which she devours within five minutes. “It was so good. I think I should’ve gotten two,” she says.

Sydney Gore: How has headlining your first tour in the U.S. been so far?
Charli XCX: Totally crazy like…really weird. I never expected to sell out shows or that kind of thing. It’s all really cool.

SG: How have the U.S. fans been?
C: Awesome. I love playing in the U.S., the fans are so cool. They bring me crazy gifts, like yesterday I got given this necklace with a picture of me flashing or sometimes they bring me a bracelet or a necklace that they made. They also give me Poptarts and stuff like that so it’s cool and really good.

SG: Have you named your fans yet?
C: I haven’t. They keep asking me to do it, but it kind of freaks me out. I don’t know… I’m in two minds, like if I was going to name them I’d call them Charli’s Angels, but I don’t know if I want to officially do that. I’m not sure.

SG: Have you performed in D.C. before?
C: Mmm hmm. I’ve played here twice before so this will be my third time playing here. I really love this venue and I really like playing here.

SG: Have you been working on any new music projects?
C: Yeah, I’ve been working on my second record. I’d say that I’m kind of nearly done. I’ve been working on it for about a month and it’s really inspired by French Yé-Yé Pop and by new wave bands like Bow Wow Wow and The Waitresses. It’s very raw. We recorded it very quickly because I don’t like to spend loads of time. It’s very energetic and quite punk for sure.

SG: And your new single “SuperLove” came out a few weeks ago, correct?
C: Yeah, that’s an introduction to it. That’s definitely the most pop song I’ve written so far for the second album. It’s much more shouty.

SG: Your last album “True Romance” was about falling in and out of love. I was wondering, how do you usually deal with a break-up?
C: I don’t know…I probably am really childish about it, and I just run away and fall in love with someone else. That’s how I deal with break-ups, fall in love with someone else. That’s my answer, which is probably not very mature of me.

SG: Do you have any advice for your peers?
C: Well, I don’t have any advice on love because love is such a scary, weird thing, and you kind of just have to make your own way through it. One bit of advice that I feel like is really important that I’ve learned from being in this industry is that you always just have to be real. I know it sounds really lame, but I think it’s true. I think you should always just be real. Respect everyone around you, be nice to everyone around you. Don’t be an a**hole.

SG: Do you think that women working in the music industry can or should be competitive and supportive at the same time?
C: I feel like the music industry is set up to be a naturally competitive place, and they want it to be a competition. They want to see people fight so there’s a story or whatever. I genuinely don’t see any of my peers as competition. I see us all in our own different lanes doing our own thing. I don’t see myself competing for No. 1 or the best album, I just make music for myself. I think that’s why everyone becomes a musician. Always support your fellow artist, you know?

SG: How do you maintain so much positive and high spirited energy through your music?
C: I don’t think I always do. I feel like sometimes I just have days where I want to cry and sit in bed all day, and sometimes I have days where I’m OK. I feel like what I do is so turbulent, there’s so many ups and downs and intense feelings that you’re never just happy all the time. Sometimes you’re really happy or so depressed. I feel like my record is reflective of that because there a lot of dark moments on it, and then there are much more pop, upbeat happy moments. I guess that just reflects my personality.

sgore@theeagleonline.com

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