In the Studio: Charli XCX on Her Next Album, Which is Not a Hipster, Electronic Synth-pop Record | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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In the Studio: Charli XCX on Her Next Album, Which is Not a Hipster, Electronic Synth-pop Record

Seeing Red

Mar 19, 2014 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Issue #49 - February/March 2014 - Portlandia
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As warmly as Charli XCX's 2013 debut LP, True Romance, was received by fans and critics, the English singer/songwriter wanted to streamline the writing and recording process for her follow-up album, tentatively set for June release. True Romance was five years in the making and had 10 collaborators credited as co-songwriters or producers. For her second LP, Charli has re-teamed with producer Patrik Berger, her co-writer on "I Love It," the hit single they gave to Icona Pop.

"I just wanted to be in a room doing everything in one go with one person," she says, noting that she and Berger worked around the clock to complete 90 percent of the new record at his Stockholm studio last fall.

At the time of this interview, Charli had a title for the forthcoming LP but preferred not to divulge it. She describes the album as "a much more raw, live record than True Romance was," listing New Wave acts The Waitresses, Bow Wow Wow, and The Flying Lizards as influences on its sound, as well as guitar-driven bands The Hives, Ramones, and Weezer. (She had been talking to Weezer's Rivers Cuomo about a possible writing session together, but nothing had been set up yet.) French '60s pop also was an influence, singers such as Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot, and Johnny Hallyday.

"It's kind of all over the place," Charli admits. "I feel like people were expecting me to make this hipster, electronic synth-pop record, and I couldn't think of anything worse. I would rather completely do the opposite of what people think I'm going to do. Otherwise, it just gets boring if people can box you in the whole time."

Maintaining that she's more inspired by visuals than by other music, she views the color red as a connecting link between the new songs. She also describes the album as feminine and passionate.

"It's a very sexy record," she says. "The female body is such a beautiful thing, and that's in part what this record is about.... But it's also about anger. I feel like those things are very feminine as well: anger and sex."

Among topics such as love, breakups, and money, there are also songs about places that inspire her. One was written about Tokyo, where she shot the video for another track, "SuperLove," which was released as a single last year. "SuperLove" is the most pop-sounding track on the new album, she says, explaining that its early release was to serve as a bridge from True Romance.

When Charli began touring True Romance last spring, she performed with two males who supplied programmed instrumentation. She finished the year fronting an all-female band that played rock instruments. For the second album, she wanted to write and record a batch of songs that would be fun to perform live.

"Playing with those girls has opened my eyes to all the awesome shit we can do on tour when I'm playing the next record," she says. "I'm really excited. We go super hard."

[Note: This article first appeared in the February/March print issue (Issue 49). Keep in mind that the album is still a work in progress and the details and direction of the album may have changed since this interview; consider this a snapshot of the album's recording process. Since this interview Charli XCX has revealed that she has indeed worked with Weezer's Rivers Cuomo and has also collaborated with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij for the album.]

 



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J. Foley
March 23rd 2014
4:39pm

Pop music has never really been my favorite sound, but this album Charli XCX has coming out has what it takes to be great in the pop world. The track “Superlove” posted here has a great sound to it, and it really does seem to be what pop music is missing in terms of the “next transition.” The track has a lot to offer in terms of different sounds or genres all foiled into one cataclysmic song. In retrospect, this is what should be played on the radio stations for all the young poppy teenagers to listen to. I haven’t even been a huge fan of Charli XCX. I passed on the opportunity to see her perform at Bonnaroo last year. But I would be the first to say that she definitely has something with her new upcoming album, and I am excited to see it help her career take off even more.

Also, that new track “Fancy” with hot lady-rapper, Iggy Azalea, really gives a new boost or kick to pop music’s crotch. I’d say keep an eye on Charli XCX; she definitely has it going on!