Bonnaroo 2013: Charli XCX Talks Songwriting Superstardom & Stateside Success
This year’s line-up at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee wasn’t particularly pop-heavy, but even if it had been, Charli XCX still would have been my favorite: The alt-pop siren is an electrifying performer, a prodigious songwriter and one of the most sincerely likable people you’re liable to meet anywhere. (Yes, even at Bonnaroo.)
Sitting in the Tennessee sunshine after her performance, Charli and I covered a lot of ground — from her journey to success to the shape of the rest of her year — but most noteworthy was what she revealed about her plans to turn into a one-woman hit factory after seeing the success of her co-write with Icona Pop, the ubiquitous “I Love It”: “I’m doing some big sessions over the next two months,” she said. “It’s kind of what I’m focusing on.” Mum’s the word on which artists might be cutting her tracks, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll be pretty major.
Read on for more with Charli.
“I knew it was gonna be a hit but I didn’t know it was gonna be as big as it is. Yeah, it’s great. I’m really proud of Icona Pop as well. We did a show together like a year before ‘I Love It’ was even written and it was in London at this place called The Lexington and Icona Pop supported me, which would never happen now. But there were, like, 50 people there, and we came off stage and we were like, ‘This is amazing — this is like the best it’s gonna get!’ We were freaking out about it, and seeing everything now, it’s kind of crazy.”
On her journey over the last five years: “When I was younger, I was just making songs. I was 14 — I didn’t really know who I was as a person, let alone who I was as an artist. So that whole thing was kind of me just experimenting, and then I got signed, and luckily I worked with a label who didn’t push me. They were just like, ‘You just do your thing’. Like, grow up, do what you wanna do, which was really cool. I’m glad it happened when I wanted it to happen because that’s when I had my songs. That’s when I really felt I found myself as an artist. So, I’m happy.”
On her Bonnaroo experience: “It’s cool! I haven’t really seen many bands. I saw a bit of DIIV and apart from that it’s kind of been my show, and that’s it. But I wanna see The xx tonight and I wanna see Wu-Tang and Porter Robinson. It’s gonna be good, I think.”
On touring with Marina & The Diamonds: “It was crazy — I feel like we have a lot of the same fans. Marina is on some Justin Bieber shit in the states. There’s kids crying and screaming and having breakdowns. When we played in LA, there were so many ambulances outside the show, people being taken out with wheelchairs and stretchers. It’s great! When I was playing in LA, we played at the Shrine. I mean, it was insane. There were like 10-year-olds getting fucking carried across the crowd. The tour’s been great and, like I said, we have very similar crowds, so it was kind of perfect for me. And she’s a great artist and a great friend so it was cool to go on tour with her.”
On what she’s doing for the rest of the year: “I did a mini-headline tour this past month, but just of the East Coast. Now I’m going back to the UK and Europe doing festivals, but in September I’m coming back to the States. I’m doing a full headline tour for all of the US, which is gonna be really cool. I’m really excited about that. I really want to do this album justice, I really want to play great shows and make it amazing for people. But apart from that, just working on the next album.”
On the sound of her next record: “I do have a vibe and a sound, but two months ago I wanted to record the album in India, and now I wanna record the album in France. I’m still thinking about it a lot — it’s changing everyday. All I know is the music videos are gonna be really dope: The music videos are all gonna be shot in one room and at the moment in my head, it’s gonna be inspired by Serge Gainbourg and Brigitte Bardot. It’s gonna be good.”