It's 8am in London and Charli XCX
has just woken up. You can tell this is true by the scratchiness in her voice. Nevertheless, it appears she can do more than just grunt at stupid hours of morning and we instantly launch into a conversation of Gilmore Girls
proportions (talking too much, too fast and in too many different directions). With her glittery '80s vibes and impeccable style (file next to Grimes), girl's been playing stadiums with Coldplay, popping up at London Fashion Week and snatched up to be remixed by Salem (see below) and Odd Future's The Internet
. As we hyperbolically discuss illegal rave parties, fairy lights and the Spice Girls, it's easy to forget the person on the end of the line is the 20-year-old goth popstar who - without having even released an album yet - has been heralded as one of the UK's hottest new things.
By the time the phone's returned to its hook, it has been decided: Charli XCX would make the ultimate best friend. Here's why.
HER FIRST CONCERT WAS THE SPICE GIRLS
Every gal's dream. If you're anything like us you fought with your friends over who was which Spice Girl and then spent at least a good year balancing on top of that long wooden seat in the schoolyard putting on lunchtime performances. You had the folder, the pencil case, the movie, the push pops and the sparkly platforms you definitely couldn't walk in. Long story short, love of the Spice translates to: unlimited conversation.
"When I was younger I used to dress up as Sporty Spice and then, for a while, Baby Spice. My parents filmed me singing into my hairbrush – embarrassing home video shit. I love them! When I played it with my friends they made me be Scary Spice... with my hair. In the privacy of my own home, I was always Sporty or Baby... I went to see them at one of the really big arenas in London. It was after Geri had left - which was kind of really sad, because I really like Geri."
SHE'S PLAYED AT CRAZY RAVES
When myspace was at its peak, some guy discovered Charli's music page and found herself performing at raves while you were still trying to convince your parents to let you go to underage discos. Her rave debut at 15 "was an illegal one. They used to go and take over warehouses and peanut factories and stuff like that. The first five or six were illegal." As her BFFL, surely some of this street cred will rub off on you.
"I came from a very countryside sort of town... nothing wild or massively interesting was going on there in the music scene. So when I went to this first rave it was like a massive eye opener for me. I mean, everybody there was dressed up and mad and crazy. And I - even when I was living back at home with my parents when I was 14 or 15 - I always dressed flamboyantly, and would kind of be the one out of my friends who would wear weird shit. I didn't not fit in, because I had great friends, but I was always a bit... different. I was trying to push the boundaries a little bit. When I went I went to these raves I was like, 'Wow. This is so cool. It's where I belong.' All of these people with glitter over their faces and feathers, and dressing up as tropical fish and animals... it was amazing. The people who played were absolutely crazy and I learned a lot of my stagecraft from them. They'd roll around on the floor and they'd hold on to their legs. I did all of that shit for a while, but then I honed it in and I guess I have my own sort of style right now.
"The first time I went the guy was like 'You'll be on at 10pm.' Obviously it doesn't work like that. When they say 10pm they actually mean 2am. But I didn't realise that, so I went at nine and no one was there, everyone was still setting up. I was like, 'Oh, okay, this is really weird.' Anyway, I was playing this one where I was meant to be on at one in the morning but I actually went on at five in the morning. It was in this massive derelict warehouse; there were loads of cars parked in there and everyone was dancing on top of the cars and burning them and shit. It was getting crazy, like not in a good way, and then basically this guy's gang turned up with a load of pitbull dogs on chains. They were all skinheads and they let their dogs off at the rave, but they were really aggressive dogs. It was going a bit mad so I left just before I was onstage. Just got my shit and went. It never really happened that much... actual violence. It was never really like that. There was drugs and sex and alcohol and that kind of shit, but that was the only (violent) time."
SHE HAS AWESOME PARENTS
Who weren't freaked out about her writing a song titled 'Dinosaur Sex' at age 14. Upon googling herself, she's found people being all 'HOW COULD HER PARENTS LET HER DO THAT!!!!'. Truth is, they understood it was her art... even when they were watching her squeal and writhe about provocatively onstage singing phrases like, 'L-I-C-K my ice cream' and 'watch me roar, watch me be like a dinosaur.'
SHE THINKS RAPPERS ARE THE COOLEST PEOPLE EVER
As a kid, Charli XCX got into Eminem big time. So (as most kids do) she started writing nursery rhyme rap, but then decided she didn't have the vocal skills to be a legit rapper. Nevertheless, she thinks everything about rap is "so cool" and still cites Eminem as one of her total faves.
SHE LIKES MAKING MIXTAPES
If you can't tell from her soundcloud, Charli's a fan of mixtapes (and you're an idiot). Prepare to be surprise gifted with some old school mixtapes from your bestie. While most of her mixtapes these days comprise of original music, she likes making fun compilation mix CDs, recalling one she made for a friend with Eve feat. Gwen Stefani's 'Let Me Blow Ya Mind'
on it. (On a side note, does rapping this together over the phone automatically lock us into a best friend contract? Please say yes.)
SHE WENT TO ART SCHOOL
Those mixtapes we were talking about before, the ones Charli's going to surprise gift you with? They’ll also feature personalised cover art because Charli XCX is an artiste.
"I actually dropped out in January because shit was getting a bit mad. I was doing a lot of installations and some video stuff as well. The last thing I made was this huge heart shape. I put loads of fairy lights around it and hung it up. It flashed and was oozing pink and it had loads of drips coming down from it. It was really beautiful."
YOU COULD TAKE HER TO A GOTH PARTY
She makes goth pop. It just makes sense, okay? Closest she's been is to a witch house one.
"I went to a witch house party which was actually so hilarious. Don’t get me wrong - I love witch house music and I love all the energy that comes with it. But sometimes I do find it really funny because it's just so ridiculous. At this party they'd sprayed cobwebs in the corner and gaffa-taped black triangles that they'd stuck to the walls. But not in a jokey way, in a really serious way. There were skeletons you'd find in the biology department in the room… they were playing witch house music and no one was dancing all night. Everyone was just kind of moving their heads going 'We're really witch house, maaan.' Oh my god, it was fucking amazing."
Charli XCX is coming out for Parklife 2012. Her ‘You’re The One’ EP, comes out today (September 21) digitally via iTunes and physically on Friday 28 September. Check out the full Parklife announcement here.
PARKLIFE 2012 TOUR DATES:
Saturday 29 September - Riverstage and Botanic Gardens, Brisbane
Sunday 30 September - Kippax Lake Moore Park, Sydney
Monday 1 October - Wellington Square, Perth
Saturday 6 October - Sidney Myer Music Bowl & Surrounds, Melbourne
Sunday 7 October - Botanic Park, Adelaide