Charli XCX Talks "True Romance", Movies, and More
Fri, 19 Apr 2013 11:30:33
The second you hear True Romance, you're going to fall in love with Charli XCX.
The sexy siren makes futuristic pop music that's as elegant as it is ethereal. Her smooth vocals reverberate over airy production, and it's the kind of record you could hear piping throughout some high society club in The Fifth Element or Blade Runner. It's also one of the most intriguing, irresistible, and innovative records of 2013.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Charli XCX talks True Romance, movies, and so much more.
What's your take on True Romance as a whole? What threads the album together?
For me, it is a real journey. It's a bit of a coming-of-age personally because I grew up while I was writing it. It's weird because, when I listen to it, I can hear all of my different voices. I can hear me as a 15-year-old, me as a 17-year-old, and me as a 20-year-old. I'm really proud of it as a body of work because I feel like—even though they might not be Top 40 kind of pop songs—I've made a genuinely interesting and great pop record, which is what I always vowed to do. I'm really excited for everybody else to hear it.
Was singing differently important for you? It sounds like numerous voices…
That's crazy! I never really think of it like that. I know that I do different weird shit with my voice. For me, that's just who I am. In terms of the different voices, the idea behind the record is it's all about love and True Romance. It's about my different experiences of romances due to age and down to the time I was thinking about it. Imagine you were freakishly obsessed with someone who didn't want you back. That's what "Stay Away" is about. I've been obsessed with people before but never in an unhealthy, crazy, driving-yourself-to-death kind of way. I was imagining if I was like that on "Stay Away". There are songs where it's like me fully experiencing what I think is true love. It's this crazy, euphoric, orgasmic love. Then there are teenage songs. There are those teen angst, fuck-you breakup songs as well. For me, it's like the voice of a girl who's growing up. It can be any girl in a relationship.
You can see the songs almost as much as you can hear them.
I'm really glad you said that because I feel like one thing I've always tried to do is make my lyrics sound and feel very visual. For me, I see the whole record as being the color purple. I can see it as purple pop music. That's the genre I would call it. It's funny. When I write my lyrics, I'll look at my favorite movies. I'll watch Carrie or Clueless to get inspiration. Melancholia is just amazing. That's another one that I love. I'll look at my favorite fashion photographers too in order to get inspiration for the lyrics. Guys like David LaChapelle create these fantastical worlds. That's what I want to do with my songs.
Do you get ideas for the videos while writing?
When I'm writing songs, if I can't picture the music video in my head, then I know that the song is going the right way. If I don't immediately click with it visually and started getting excited about a music video, I know that I don't want the song to be on my record. With the whole visual thing, I have to be so involved. Everything I do has to be visual, and it definitely comes from the shit I love.
What's the story behind "Nuclear Seasons"?
It's about being in a state of decay. It's like when you're caught in a space where you not sure what to do or where to go. You know you're there and lost. You know you have to survive and get out, but you don't know how. That's what it's about. I imagine that song in particular is really purple and hazy. When I think about that song, I imagine being in a field of lavender with purple clouds and stuff like that.
Where did "Lock You Up" come from?
It's really cool because it's like the eighties power moment. It's amazing when we play it live. We get to do these really crazy crap fake guitar sounds that are epic! For me, that song is a classic love song. It's beautiful. It's simple. I want to lock you up inside of my heart. I want to keep you there forever. I never want to leave you. It's cheesy, but I think it's cute!
If you were to compare True Romance or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Visually, in terms of color and tone, it would be a popular movie like Lost in Translation or The Virgin Suicides. As for the storyline, maybe it would be True Romance because that's the ultimate romance film running away together, ending up on the beach, and being completely one with each other. That movie is so good.
What artists shaped you?
When I first got into music, I was really inspired by all of the artists on the French label Ed Banger, in particular Justice and Uffie. I was 14-years-old when the Ed Banger thing was really popular. It completely blew me away. I thought Uffie was the coolest chick ever. She can't rap, but she can. That's why it's so cool. I got big into that bass sound. I loved the chords Justice were using. I was really into French electro. I was also a massive Bjork and Kate Bush fan. I think they're two of the most incredible artists. Björk's music videos are just insane. Then, I was into pop music like Britney Spears and The Spice Girls. I guess that shaped my youth.
Have you seen any movies lately that you dug?
I loved Moonrise Kingdom. That was amazing. I'm so excited to see Spring Breakers. I love Harmony Korine. I think he's amazing. I'm also a massive fan of Disney kids because they're so freaky, weird, and fucked up, I imagine, in the best kind of way [Laughs].
That might even be a good comparison for your album.
You're right actually! One-hundred percent [Laughs].
Have you heard Charli XCX?