Editor's Note: This story first appeared in its original format in the new issue of Variance. Click here for the full version.
Photo by Dan Curwin
England’s Charlotte Emma Aitchison is no stranger to the spotlight. Known best by her stage name, Charli XCX, the singer-songwriter started her musical journey recording and performing when she was only 14. Her first live shows were in London, where she began setting the stage for wild warehouse raves.
Aitchison found herself working alongside various labels and releasing music quite frequently until taking a year-long hiatus, allowing her to refocus and began working on future projects.
Having landed touring spots alongside the likes of Coldplay, Santigold and Ellie Goulding, Aitchison lent her writing and vocal abilities to Icona Pop’s 2012 smash “I Love It” and most recently Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” And after releasing her long-awaited sophomore album, last year’s True Romance, she’s quickly moving forward and ready to write the next chapter of her career.
“There were a lot of people who didn’t believe in me at the beginning of my career,” she recalls over lunch in Austin. “I wasted a lot of time with people—with older men—in the industry who didn’t think I had potential because I was just a girl. Now that I realize how ridiculous that was, I feel like I have a lot to do.”
Having come a long way since those days, the 21 year-old musician says her forthcoming material will likely show a more mature side of her. But that doesn’t mean she’s ditching the party vibes her fans love, noting that her appearance at SXSW this year pretty much affirmed that.
“I think [SXSW] went pretty well, it was good,” she says. “It was crazy, we had balloons, and there was dancing and confetti.”
While fans are still enjoying Aitchison’s latest album and collaborations, that hasn’t stopped her from working on her third studio album.
“I feel like I don’t really take time off,” she admits. “I always write, so I wanted to just keep going. I wanted to make the record really fast because I felt really creative; it’s very inspired. I am constantly writing, even if it's not for myself.”
Nurturing her career and building her catalog have certainly kept her busy, but she’s found a soft spot for working with others who inspire her. And while some collaborations these days seem to be rather frivolous, Aitchison instead says she puts great thought into hers.
“I've done a lot of collaborations just because I enjoy working with other people,” she confesses. “Like I only collaborate with the people I trust, people I admire. And it has to be fun, not just to create some hype. It’s just exciting for me, especially with people like Danny Brown. I love getting to work with other creative people and seeing what we come up with.”
Looking ahead, Aitchison says she’s done writing for her next full-length but she’s unsure what the final product will sound like, as she’s currently reviewing recordings to decide which songs will eventually make the cut.
“[The album] is coming along; I have been working in L.A. for a while, finishing off, and I think it’s coming along now,” she says. “It’s really done now, I feel. I have a lot of songs, I’m just inspecting them.”
And while collaborations have been a big part of the young singer’s path to success, she surprisingly has no immediate intentions of including any guest features on her next release. Instead of doing what she knows, she’s aiming to venture into new territory this time around.
“I am not a very in-the-box artist and I feel like that’s why I want to make a record that isn't a simple record, I don’t want to put it in the box,” she declares of her forthcoming album. “I think there are a lot of great new voices in music right now and it’s an exciting time. I don’t want to do the same thing over again. We have to keep pushing forward. And this is going to be my way of doing that.”