Interview: Charli XCX talks touring, UK crowds and working with Rita Ora

Since bursting into the mainstream in 2013, Charli XCX has become one of the biggest forces in the world of pop and one of the most exciting new acts in the industry.

As a songwriter she’s worked with artists as diverse as Gwen Stefani, James Blunt and Iggy Azalea, with whom she had the mammoth hit Fancy before breaking out on her own with Boom Clap. 

With the release of her second studio album, Sucker, in 2014, Charli XCX has spent her summer performing at festivals all around the world. Jon Hornbuckle caught up with Brit songstress backstage at Wireless Festival. What followed was a lengthy discussion about life on the tour bus, British crowds and her forthcoming third album. Here are the best bits…

You’ve just come off stage here at Wireless. How do the UK crowds differ from across the world?

“Well it’s always more nerve-wracking for me to play in the UK because it’s where I’m from and I don’t play a lot here so it’s always quite scary, but I liked it and all my fans are always weird, and wild, and wonderful, so that’s really nice.”

I read that someone described your sound as ‘rebel pop’ – do you agree with that?

“Oh ok. I get that, yeah totally. I definitely like to do things on my own terms and I’ve never tried to make pop music that sounds like stuff that’s on the radio. That’s never really been my goal. I’ve always tried to make albums that I like. Yeah, I’ll take that, that’s nice.”

But now your music is successful and is all over the radio, does that mean you’ve kinda gone against what you set out to do…

“Yeah, that’s cool and I never expected that to happen so it’s really nice. So the next stuff will have to be really weird! It’s going to be totally different.”

Charli XCX Wireless Ticketmaster Tim Easton

What do you take on the road with you?

“Justin Bieber perfume, vodka, Pop Tarts and sometimes my friends.”

Who needs friends when you’ve got Bieber perfume and Vodka!?

“You said it!” 

What’s the worst thing about touring? You must always be away from home.

“Home is all over the place now. It’s everywhere and nowhere really. The worst thing about touring is probably when you eat pizza every single day. Well that’s not actually that bad, I love it but technically it’s bad.”

You had a huge hit with Iggy Azalea but there seems to have been a bit of a backlash lately. Why do you think that is?

“Um, y’know, I think that she kinda catapulted to success with a rap song and I don’t know but obviously there’s a lot of talk about the whole idea of it being a black culture art and of course it originated there… I don’t really know, I know that Iggy is a sweet person and she’s doing her own thing. On the record I don’t know why there is that discussion.”

Charli XCX at T in The Park Sinéad Grainger

Did you hear her track with Britney? A lot of people said the track, Pretty Girls, reminded them of Fancy…

“Yeah, I loved that song. It’s the same producers and they’re really great and really talented. I’m such a Britney fan and that was massive so I was really happy for Iggy to be working with her… I don’t currently have plans to work with Britney but I’d love to!” 

Will you be working on Rita Ora’s new album?

“Yeah we’ve spoken about a couple of songs. Maybe not me featuring but writing together and that kinda thing. That’s really exciting and I think she’s going to make a really great record. She’s definitely taking time to really put herself into it and make it the best she can.”

When will your next album be released? I know you just said about not wanting to do one year after year…

“Well I do actually, I like that. Hopefully it will be released next year, I’m working on it now but really at the beginning stages of vagueness.”

Like this interview? See more from writer @JonHornbuckle.