So on Friday (March 15) at South by Southwest, I woke up at the crack of 9:37 a.m. to interview Charli XCX at 10:00 a.m. I thought maybe her reps were playing a prank on me, because that is basically dawn during a festival. But it was real. Like her pal Sky Ferreira, who the previous night was battling laryngitis, Charli was a little under the weather, probably because she has to meet with dopes like me in the morning after playing shows that finish up a couple hours before actual dawn.
But Charli XCX is freakishly energetic — she did 10 shows at SXSW this year, which is a whole lot of this — and she thinks four hours of sleep per night is normal. So she was charming as hell. Read on to get her thoughts on tacos, e-cigarettes and pervy photographers.
Last year you only did a couple shows. This year you’re crazy busy. Have you had time in between all your sets to catch any shows?
I tried to see Snoop Lion and Major Lazer, and I kind of saw Major Lazer. And then I had to run back to the Hype Hotel to see MS MR, and then I realized I’m really ill and being a fucking idiot staying out. So I’ve been close to seeing a bunch of shows, I’ve almost seen shows.
Yeah it feels like SXSW is just the act of shuffling from one event to the next without any of it actually registering.
Yeah it’s hectic, but it is great. Maybe next year I’ll actually see some performances.
Have you had a chance to hang out with any of your pals like Icona Pop or Sky Ferreira while you’re all here?
I hung out with Icona Pop. I saw Kitty Pryde last night which was really nice. I love her, and I know you guys do as well, she’s really cute.
(Ed. note: when she says she “hung out” with Icona Pop, she might’ve meant this.)
Is this the earliest you’ve had to wake up all week?
Yes. I got up at eight today for some shoots. This is an early day.
How many naps have you taken?
None! I’ve gotten a normal amount of sleep. I’ve been doing shows at one in the morning, so I’m in bed by, like, three, and then I’m up at eight to shoot. It’s about four hours a night. But the first night, I partied, which was pretty stupid and why I’m ill. I peaked way too early.
What’s the best food you’ve had in Austin so far?
I’ve basically just been eating tacos. I love Mexican food. Every kind of taco, I’ve eaten it. Taco queen over here.
Is there a lot of Mexican food in London?
There is, but it’s not as good. That said, though, I do really like Taco Bell.
They’re sponsoring just about every show here, so you’re in the right place!
I know! Last year they were doing that Dorito Taco Bell shit, so I was like “Get me that now!” and threw a diva fit, because they ran out. I didn’t actually, but those things are so good. When I was backstage at the MS MR show the other night, Lizzy and Max asked me something and I was just, [grunts] with my mouth full.
Have you had any bad food here?
It’s all been pretty good, but vegetables are hard to come by. Where have the plants gone? I had freshly squeezed orange juice this morning and it was heaven.
Have you had to deal with any wack corporate sponsorship stuff this week?
I had to do this really fucking stupid thing at a show. They had a pre-show lounge, and there was all this free crap. And if you take a look at anything, they take a photo of you holding it. I’m like “But I don’t even like this fucking electronic cigarette!” I’m just quite interested, like, wow, never seen one of those before. And they say, “We have to take a picture of you now,” and there’s this weird, awkward moment. So now, I’m endorsing e-cigarettes.
You said you did a terrible job of packing for SXSW last year. How did you remedy the situation this year?
I did a really good job. The day before I left, I spent the whole day packing and I took pictures of every outfit I was gonna wear. So there was no panic, I would just go on my phone and say, “OK I’m wearing this one tonight.”
You perform in sports bras a lot. Is that a fashion thing, like you’re channeling Gwen Stefani? Or is it a utilitarian choice?
Both, half a practicality thing, half Sporty Spice.
And what about the plaid?
I’m channeling Clueless meets Empire Records, that’s the road I’m going down.
(Here she is channeling them live on stage Wednesday night at the Hype Hotel.)
How many fans have hit on you this week?
I dunno, I think I’m quite good at controlling that. Although one photographer did grab this [pointing to the dog collar around her neck], in a weird way. I was thinking, “Back off, you’re not cute right now, you’re just a pervy dick.”
A budding Terry Richardson!
Ha. But no, the fans have been really cute. I was given a handmade wooden unicorn someone made for me yesterday. And I was in the process of taking it out of my pocket to show someone, and I dropped it and broke it! So that kinda sucked.