Charli XCX is ready for her close-up

No angel
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  July 24, 2012

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BELIEVER “There are loads of girls out there, we all know each other, we’re friends, and it’ll be
amazing when we all break through,” says Charlie XCX.

If 2011 was a year of the general populace getting bombarded with new female solo artists coming out of nowhere to blow up our Interwebs and destroy our notions of the pay-your-dues career track, then 2012 is shaping up to be the year of reckoning. Everyone from Lana Del Rey to Kreayshawn to Azealia Banks must pay the piper and cough up a full-length as proof to the Man that they have what it takes to be a capital-A Artist. And to that short list you can scribble in one more name, because UK pop-musik ingénue Charlotte Aitchison, d/b/a Charli XCX, is currently poised at the precipice of either “Charli who?” fizzle or summer-jam-of-2013 ubiquity.

Charli herself is hopeful, seeing it as ’90s-Girl Power for the 21st century. “Mark my words, it’s beginning to come back, massively,” Charli says from London while on a break from rehearsals. “In the next year, or next couple of years, it’s going to be even more in the forefront. I mean, there are loads of girls out there, we all know each other, we’re friends, and it’ll be amazing when we all break through.”

One might be right to be skeptical, except that her string of singles since 2011 are all stellar, from the pummeling shimmer of the gauzy and torchy “Stay Away,” to the iridescent bounce of the infectious “Nuclear Seasons,” to her most recent tease, the dark-to-light synth-fluttering “You’re the One.” And it doesn’t hurt that she penned Icona Pop’s 2012 summer anthem “I Love It.” Her as-yet-untitled long-player (due out in October on IAMSOUND) has her buzzing with the joy of creation and release. “It’s kind of like having a baby,” she says, “only if you drop it, no one’s gonna yell at you for being a bad mum.”

The constant throughout all of her recent material is a friction between nocturnal gloom and glow-sticks-in-the-air euphoria. If she can be accused of dipping into the aesthetic pool of the 1980s, it’s in an idiosyncratic way that results in music that is equally indebted to Siouxsie, Cocteau Twins, and T’Pau. “I want to prove to people that pop can be beautiful and real and emotional. I want . . . to make people believe.”

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Currently just shy of her 20th birthday, Charli has been making music quasi-professionally since she was 14. In 2008, she was signed to a label and released a few singles, coming up with the name Charli XCX as an LL Cool J-ish abbreviation of “Kiss Charli Kiss.”

“When I was younger I listened to Spice Girls and Shampoo and All Saints, and wanted to be like that. Then I got a bit older and was all about stuff like Lily Allen, Kate Nash. But I really knew I wanted to be a musician when I got into Ed Banger Records, artists like Justice and Uffie. They really made me want to make dance music, like electro and stuff that I would dance to in a club. So I tried to do that, but I wasn’t good with computers and technology, so what came out on the other side was me doing weird raps over these really crappy beats on a Yamaha keyboard that my parents bought me for my 10th birthday. It was really DIY but also quite juvenile.”

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