Welcome to Throwback Tunesday, where Mashable amplifies the echoes of music past. With genre trends and throwbacks, we synthesize music and nostalgia.
Twenty-one-year-old Charli XCX is accomplished beyond her years. The British alt-pop star wrote the chart-topping “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea — which held the number-one spot on the charts for seven consecutive weeks. Her infectious single “Boom Clap,” currently number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, was featured in the highly anticipated film The Fault in Our Stars. She'll be releasing her second album by the end of this year, and will be headlining a U.S. tour in the meantime. And those are just a few of her most recent accomplishments.
Charli (a.k.a. Charlotte Emma Aitchison) got her start in the East London club scene. After posting tracks on Myspace, a club promoter took notice. From there, after playing rave after rave, donning wigs and sporting props like lightsabers, she signed with Atlantic Records.
As both her eclectic style (plaid, platforms, crop tops galore) and her music is '90s-inspired,Mashable took a peek into the past with Charli XCX. We talked ghosts, going commando and favorite Spice Girls (you know you had one), starting with a photo from an unusually spooky writing session.
Q&A with Charli XCX
What is going on in that photo?
So in that photograph I’m in Sweden, and I think that was at like 6 a.m. We were basically doing a writing camp there, and we were staying in this crazy old hotel, this empty house that was huge, kind of like in The Shining. There were only a few of us in there, maybe 15 of us in total, and it was crazy — every room had chandeliers, wooden furniture from the 1900s, all these crazy paintings. The whole place was kind of creepy.
Do you think it was haunted?
Yeah, we actually recorded a ghost while we were there. I have it on my phone. It’s like a recording of a woman talking, and it wasn’t any of us. Basically, we did some research on the house because we kind of felt like it was haunted, and what we found out is that the woman of the house drowned herself in the lake once her husband died, at this end of this massive party she had thrown. In the documentary about the house, it said that as a ghost, she likes to remember the pool table room, so we had the microphone in there and went to sleep.
The next day we checked the recording and there was nothing, and then at like 6 or 7 a.m. we heard this low moaning noise, and we pitched it up two octaves and it was this woman making noises. You couldn't hear what she said, but it was definitely a creepy woman talking. We were thinking, "Oh my God, is someone f*cking with us?" Everyone was so freaked out.
That’s scary. You said there was a documentary about it?
It was just like on a Swedish radio station, a radio documentary, but I think the town was called Strängnäs. It was pretty cool. In that photo I think we'd just finished writing and went down to the lake (which was really weird because that’s where she drowned herself). We just sat on the deck and watched the sunrise.
And when exactly was this?
This was this year, maybe in April.
You have talked about loving ‘90s fashion, and mentioned that you are really inspired by visuals and movies like Clueless (which inspired the "Fancy" music video) and The Craft. What role does the '90s and nostalgia plays in your music and your image?
Iggy Azalea - Fancy (Explicit) ft. Charli XCX by Tranganhnam88
I’ve always been drawn to ‘90s fashion because it’s so on the edge of being the worst thing in the world, and I think that’s amazing.I’ve always been drawn to ‘90s fashion because it’s so on the edge of being the worst thing in the world, and I think that’s amazing. Everything is so wrong that it's right, and I feel like sometimes that's the way I feel about the way I write my songs. Sometimes it sits right on the line of being the dumbest sh*t ever, but that’s why it’s really clever, really hooky. So I guess the two relate in that kind of way.
In terms of what I like to wear, I feel that as a person and as an artist I just don't really give a f*ck. I’m very scruffy and messy in the way that I am and always have been. Now I love wearing slip dresses and no bras — it’s liberating. I don't know, I just really love movies like you said, like Clueless, The Craft, Jawbreakeras well.
Speaking of the ‘90s, you said you are influenced by the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and all that jazz — what are some of your favorite memories listening to these girl groups?
I definitely grew up on Britney and the Spice Girls and Shampoo — big girl pop. I remember one thing that was cool: My first concert was a Spice Girls show, which was just after Geri [Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice] had left, which I was really sad about. I saw the show, it was amazing. Then a few years ago, I did a cover shoot for V Magazine and it was with Grimes and Sky Ferreira, and
V Magazine said, "You can pick to be interviewed by anyone.” So I was like, “Geri Halliwell, it’s got to be her."V Magazine said, "You can pick to be interviewed by anyone.” So I was like, “Geri Halliwell, it’s got to be her." I ended up going down to Geri’s house, which was so weird because when I was a kid, I was such a Spice Girls fan.
Was Ginger Spice your favorite?
They were kind of on rotation. Most of my youth I spent being obsessed with Baby Spice, so she was my favorite for a really long time. Now that I'm older, I actually really like Posh Spice the best. Nineties Victoria Beckham is perfection, I think.
When I decided I was done with the Spice Girls — when I went through my rebellious stage — I cut off all the heads of my Spice Girls dolls. I kind of ruined them and that sucked.
Yeah, so going to Geri’s house was kind of crazy. Her talking to me about my music and actually knowing very much about it, that was very interesting. She had really done her research, which was cool.
Your career launched in this era with changing social networks, from Myspace to Facebook and beyond. There are all these nostalgia-based trends like #TBT, and the barrage of older photos you see on Facebook on holidays like Father’s Day. Why do you think everyone is dying to get nostalgic on social media?
That’s a really good question. I don’t know. I really don't know. The future is going to be awesome. The future is going to be next-level and weird. I don't even know what is going to happen. I think that if I could fast-forward 50 years and be a teenager in the future, or rewind and be a teenager in the ‘60s, I think I’d probably would want to be a teenager in the ‘60s, because I don't know what’s going to come. Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong year — I think it would have been cool to be alive in the ‘60s. Maybe that’s why people keep #TBTing all the time. They secretly wish they were their mums and dads.
Speaking of all these social networks, what are some of your favorite resources for music discovery? Finding new artists, even promoting your own music, etc.
I really like Twitter, because it’s easy for me to use when I’m drunk.I really like Twitter, because it’s easy for me to use when I’m drunk. I can just be like, “Blahhh whatever.” To be honest, when it comes to other music, I'll just hear through word of mouth. I'm actually really bad at the Internet, I’m never scouring it to find new artists or new anything. I only listen to five or six artists on repeat a year. I become obsessed with certain albums for a certain period of time, and I then change it up. Maybe it’s really bad to say YouTube, maybe that’s old-school in this day and age.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing from your vantage-point now, back when your career began in the London club scene, what would it be — knowing what you know now?
I think it would be to just chill out, don't even worry about anything, it’s all good. Fate will figure everything out. I think that is what I would tell myself. I feel very relaxed now, but there was a time like,
“Oh my God, I'm going to have to go and do something normal, because this is not going to work.”“Oh my God, I'm going to have to go and do something normal, because this is not going to work.” And I was kind of panicking. I think I would tell myself to chill, don't worry about it, it will be fine, just relax, never be stressed and everything will be happy.
Anything you want to add? Any cool collaborations coming up? You've definitely worked with some fun people.
No, to be honest I am just being really selfish right now and working on my own record.
The Fault In Our Stars I Charli XCX - Boom Clap I Official Video by Tranganhnam88
Tags: CHARLI XCX, ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC, THROWBACK TUNESDAY