When the Star Observer got burgeoning UK pop star Charli XCX (born Charlotte Aitchison) on the phone for a chat, she told us she was just leaving the recording studio – which gave us cause for concern since, on the day we spoke, her long-awaited debut album True Romance was due for release in under a fortnight. Last minute panic?
“Nothing like that! I’m working on the second album now. It took so long to make my first one, so I thought I should try and bang the second one out Rihanna-style.”
So we should expect a new album each year for the rest of your natural life?
“Exactly, that’s the plan!”
You have to admire the 20-year old’s energy, especially considering True Romance’s release is the culmination of a process that’s taken over five years.
“There’s a song on the album I wrote when I was 15, so the record really does span a long period of time. The whole [pop star] thing only really properly started a year and a half ago, but I started out playing underground raves and warehouse parties when I was 14. From there, it does feel like a long time.”
Hang on – how does a 14 year old find her way to an underground rave? Where on earth where her parents?
“My parents actually drove me to them! I put some music on my Myspace, and a guy who runs the parties found me that way. I lived an hour outside London and I had no idea what a warehouse party even was – I remember for the first one they said it opened at 9pm, so I got there at 8pm to warm up expecting to be on at 9. I ended up getting on stage at 3am. From there, I became a regular performer on that London party scene.”
Those early days in the chaotic London club scene have informed the sound of the record: big, bold, heart-on-sleeve and always unashamedly pop. For an indication of the album’s quality, consider this: Charli wrote this previous summer’s undeniable smash, Icona Pop’s I Love It – then gave it away.
“As soon as I wrote it I just knew it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to make an album that sounded like that – I knew it was good, but it was a totally different direction than I wanted to go in. When the Icona Pop girls came by the studio, I let them have it because I knew they’d do it much more justice than I would.”
Instead of I Love It’s electro-house sounds, Charli’s focused her energies creating pop songs inspired by the artists she loves – from Britney Spears (“I just think she’s the perfect pop star”) to her unlikely musical hero, much-maligned US ‘rapper’ Uffie.
“Uffie is so funny – when you hear other musicians talk they all have massively deep back stories about the music their parents played inspiring them. I don’t have that – my first musical love was Uffie. She inspired me to be a musician. She’s so bad it’s good, but in the coolest way.”
INFO: True Romance (Warner) out now.