Before summer began, there was a good chance you'd never heard of Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, or Rita Ora. Now, at the start of fall, you can't get enough of these guys. And let's not forget about Charli XCX. She, like her chart-topping colleagues, has been around for years but is just recently getting much-deserved praise.
Charlotte Aitchison, as Charli is also known, co-penned 2013's summer smash hit by Icona Pop, "I Love It." The half-Scott, half-Ugandan released her major-studio debut, True Romance, last year and is featured on Azalea's ubiquitous "Fancy" and crafted "Boom Clap," which appears in the film The Fault in Our Stars.
With a U.S. tour underway, the 21-year-old Brit will be heading to Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room. We caught up with the songstress before the show to chat about genuine girl power.
New Times: Your career has skyrocketed between tours. Is the show completely different?
Charli XCX: It's still very raw. One of the biggest differences now is that I have an all-girl band. That has been really important for me to get. The show itself is tighter. We rehearse constantly. I like to keep it wild. I'll never be a pop princess. I only keep that to performances with Iggy.
How much fun has it been to ride this train of success together?
It's amazing. So much fun. I never thought I would do dance routines onstage, but she convinced me, and I had a great time. Every performance, she thinks of a completely different outfit. Billboard, we were cheerleaders, and then Dancing With the Stars, we had a prom theme. I have lived out every teenage fantasy of mine.
What about the Clueless theme in "Fancy"? Brilliant!
That movie inspired my first record.
What about your fans who have been around for years — are they protective?
I see that online a lot. "You're not a real fan — you only like Charli because of 'Fancy.' " It's so nice to see fans that are so loyal, but it's great to have new fans appreciating my music as well. I would be nowhere if not for my fans that have been here since the beginning, but I am so thankful for everyone.
The success of "Fancy" and then "Boom Clap" — 2014 has been good to you, wouldn't you say?
Before all of this happened, I went into a place where I really began to care about the music industry, and I got caught up in it a bit. It made me feel very lost and alone. My reaction to that was to go to Sweden and just make this punk album. I just needed two weeks in the studio to scream and get all my anger out.
With all of the things that have happened in the last six months, I feel like I have been in my own brain and in my own bubble. As much as I know what is going on careerwise, I like just to float around in my own world and don't let anything affect me. I have always done this on my own terms, and that is how I want to keep it.
As an indie artist, is the word "mainstream" something you hate to be associated with?
It's not a word that scares me, because I have always wanted to make pop music but have done it in my own way. It has been a natural progression. I didn't try and make a hit record. It just happened. If it wouldn't have been a hit, I would have still been proud of it. I always have hoped that pop would become more emotional and more real. I would never change to become mainstream, but I am not afraid of it.
Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, you. Is it such a great time to be a 20-something in music right now?
I think it's a great time to be a woman in music right now. Girls are owning the charts, and especially with "Fancy," it was such a girl-power anthem, and the same with "Problem." I also love that we are collaborating. The media tries to pit us against each other, and we are saying, "Look, we are doing it our way." I love collaborating with these amazing women.
What does the rest of 2014 look like for you?
A record at the end of the year, and that is what I am working on right now. I am putting everything into the tour. I want to make it special. And doing my best to get at least some sleep.