Charli XCX, Seven questions I ask myself…

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iRocktography: See what music looks like…

1. What the hell does XCX stand for?

“Kiss Charli Kiss”, her former username on MSN Messagnger, full name: Charlotte Emma Aitchison, 22 years old, an English singer and songwriter.

Although, when she was signed on a record label, thought “Maybe I need to make it cooler,” so she told them it stood for “X-rated Cunt X-rated”.

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iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

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2. Why doesn’t she put some clothes on?

Known for donning provocative outfits, and risqué dance moves, seems to be standard operating procedure in today’s pop world. An age old debate, I suppose, just varies on the amount of clothing, it was provocative at one time to show your belly button on TV. In today’s media society, there’s not much left to push, with see-thru gowns on the red carpet to micro bikinis, literally the size of a postage stamps, on a public beach. How much is too much or not enough? Where do you draw the line? Elvis did an on-stage a pelvis thrust and so does Charli. Are scantily clad pop stars, regardless of the quality of the music, good for business? How does it effect the young fans or a families quality of life or society in general?

My mind always goes back to a story Muhammad Ali told his daughter when she arrived at his home dressed wearing clothes that were far from modest. Most likely the now-typical, not-leave-much-to-the-imagination outfit that you’d see if you turned on the TV right now.

“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.”

“My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.”

“He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

Source: Taken from the book: More Than A Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Through His Daughter’s Eyes.

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iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

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3. Does she have any records?

Interestingly, three of them. Her first album, which she started recording at the age of 14, yes 14, was later shelved, appropriately named 14 with dance electro pop numbers like “Dinosaur Sex!”. A promotional item given away at shows, she has basically disowned the album as “fucking terrible MySpace music.” That was a long time ago in music years and her growth is obvious, from this album to her current work.

Her proper debut album, True Romance in 2013, was a pitiful commercial flop: it reached No 85, and only one of its six singles made the charts at all. Being an ardent Todd Rundgren fan, the song “So Far Away” caught this rock hacks attention, it contains samplings from one of Todd’s song, “A Dream Goes on Forever”, Now from there, you’d expect the neophyte pop star to pack it up and take the next bus home, but not the case here.

Producing a third album, her latest, Sucker and it’s a standout. That’s what I admire, give it a go, even when the world tells you, there’s no second chances. Well guess, what persistence pays off, it’s worth the extra effort. Especially for something you love, all the more reason not to give up and you can feel that in her music. The turning point in her career, the huge commercial success of the song, “I Love It”, which she co-wrote with Icona Pop and made a guest appearance on. An undoubtedly brilliant single, it sold 2m copies in the US in 2012 and reached No 1 in the UK a year later, not to shabby. Although initially the record label didn’t make it so obvious that the song was a team effort and seemed to have pushed Charli aside, but that apparently has taken a recent turn, with her well deserved notority. The song “Boom Clap” written for the soundtrack to The Fault in Our Stars, also appears on Sucker and was released as the first single which peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 6 on the UK Singles Chart and as certifying platinum in Australia.

I’m curious we’ll she’ll go from here, kinda in an odd spot, not your typical pop star. She has been recognised, by all the major music outlets, Rolling Stone, NME, Pitchfork, etc, as the next big thing and has proven herself musically, just on the precipice. Maybe it’s the genre itself, she’s pop although with darker undertones, dark pop if you will, more along the lines of Lorde. Maybe she should make a rock and roll record, where dark undertones are usually SOP, LOL.

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

4. What bands has she fronted for?

The answer here, often provides, an overlooked insight, not only to the skill of a performer but the sentiment of her peers. Generally, the big names, hand-pick their front acts, some by chance meetings or mutual friends and family, regardless, it’s a sign of admiration and respect from other performers. And can lift the a newbie to the upper echelons of the music business in the blink of an eye. Now, look at the bands she’s fronted for, a list of some of the hottest in world of music today, if this group recommend her, she must be doing something right.

The Ting Tings – Show Us Yours Tour (2011)
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto Tour (2012)
Ellie Goulding – The Halcyon Days Tour (2013)
Marina and the Diamonds – Lonely Hearts Club Tour (2013)
Paramore – The Self-Titled Tour (2013)
Katy Perry – Prismatic World Tour (2015)

Other than her more well known collaborations with Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora, she’s also collaborated with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, a couple of bands, I’m fond of.

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iRocktography: See what music looks like…

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5. What do the critics say?

Rolling Stone says, “pop-album equivalent of a wicked Tumblr”

The Guardian calls it…”badass pop for the Instagram generation.”

“A cross between a tasteful club kid and pop sensation; outspoken and cheeky; approachable and articulate” say ET Canada

“The buzzy young goth-pop chanteuse has already conquered the London club scene. But she’s still sweet enough to give her My Little Pony to Chris Martin.” says Details Magazine.

“…pull[s] from moody 80s synth-pop, sassy turn-of-the-millennium girl groups, and state-of-the-art contemporary producers to create something distinctive and immediately memorable” Pitchfork Media’s Marc Hogan

“After all, artists in the highest echelons of the pop charts aren’t supposed to be this forthcoming, or frank. Or legitimately funny, charming, and disconcertingly brilliant. They’re not supposed to be anything, really, but popular…she in no way resembles a pop star in any traditional sense, let alone a manufactured one.” Complex Magazine

I’d say, it’s pop with an edge of punk sensibilities, think 80’s new wave dance, like Bow Wow Wow or the Go Go’s meets the Ramones meets Lorde…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

6. What are her parents doing during all this, they must have been going out of their minds?

Quite the contrary, the daughter of “super supportive” parents, a Scottish father and an Indian mother from Uganda, hailing from Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, England, about an hour north of London, has music in her lineage. They were so supportive that they funded her first record. And would even go out of their way to attend gigs. When she was only 14 and a stranger invited her to play at an East London warehouse party after hearing your songs on MySpace. Her parents weren’t worried, they were like, “Cool! Let’s all go!” and they even dressed for the occasion with her Mom as the Cheshire Cat and her Dad as the Mad Hatter, now that’s supportive!

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

7. Can she sing?

After covering her live performance, an unequivocal, fuck yea!

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

A photographers note: First 3 songs from the photo-pit, which was a rather small, but easily allowed the group of about 8 of us to move around without much trouble, shot from the crowd for the remainder of the show.

Special thanks going out to the gang at Vybe productions…

iRocktography: See what music looks like...

iRocktography: See what music looks like…

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