A Really Big Party: An Interview with Charli XCX
Charli XCX. Photo: Olivia Malone
The 2023 installment of FPSF was set to bring Charli XCX to perform after her acclaimed album Sucker, but due to scheduling conflicts, it was pushed back. However, the time is finally here. Only a few months after the release of her mixtape, Number 1 Angel, the British musician is set to put on an electrifying performance that shouldn’t be missed. Along with her friends Lorde and Tove Lo, she’s here to show Houston what artists from around the world can do. Prior to her set at FPSF on Sunday, Charli XCX spoke to Free Press Houston about her time in town, collaborating with Sophie, and her upcoming material.
Free Press Houston: So you were going to play FPSF two years ago, but I remember that there was some last-minute scheduling issues. Is this going to be your first time in Houston? I see that you’re also going to be back here later this year with Halsey.
Charli XCX: No, I’ve actually played Houston before on my own tour. It was really fun! I actually think my band and I decided to make it goth night and we all dressed up in black, and that was really fun as well. We’ve had some good times in Houston, and we’re excited to go back.
FPH: You have some history with the headliner, Lorde. How is the girl band talk is going?
Charli XCX: Oh, right, yeah! I mean, we haven’t really put it together in a serious way, but it would be really fun to do! I’ll make sure to follow up on the status of that with Carly [Rae Jepsen] and Lorde.
FPH: One of your collaborators, Sophie, actually played our festival, Day for Night, back in December. With Sophie notably being such a mysterious person, how were the two of you introduced?
Charli XCX: I reached out to Sophie. But basically, my ex-boyfriend introduced me to Sophie’s music, and I was like, “Woah, this is really cool! I really want to work with this person.” So I was doing a writing camp in Sweden with a lot of the people I usually work with, and I just randomly got Sophie’s email and was like, “You should come to this writing camp, it would be really amazing,” not thinking I would get a response. But I did. Sophie showed up to the camp! It was so fun, and we spent — this was the beginning of 2023 — three days in a room together. That’s where we made the Vroom Vroom EP. That’s where we became friends. We worked a lot together in the studio in Los Angeles for my record, along with Stargate and others. I decided to move to LA, and ever since we’ve been good friends. We started to do more shows together. His love for pop music and art is really inspiring.
FPH: Watching the videos of the songs that include Sophie always have comments that say something along the lines of “I could tell this is a Sophie song from a mile away,” or so on. Whenever you two collaborate do you give Sophie pretty much free range with the end result?
Charli XCX: Yeah, I mean, I really love that stuff, the classic Sophie drops. There’s other sides to Sophie, which are very pop music oriented. I guess a lot of people don’t associate the two. But with any collaborator, there are always debates on what the right idea is, and that’s exactly how I worked with Sophie. But most things that want to happen, happen when we work together.
FPH: I hear that punk music played an important role in your musical upbringings, but I’ve read that so have people like Quentin Tarantino and Donna Summer. Were you always pretty open to listening to everything? Did you go through any long stages of listening to one band in particular?
Charli XCX: Oh, yeah. Big time. I went through stages where I would listen to one album on repeat, for sure. And I mean, I even went through stages where I listened to one song on repeat. I went through a ton of phases: an emo one, metal, though that one didn’t work out.
FPH: Is there any group that inspired you more so than others on the Number 1 Angel mixtape?
Charli XCX: No, I don’t think so. Now that I make my own music I don’t really listen to others, because I find it distracting. I only really listen to myself. I would try and copy things if I listened to others, and I don’t want to do that, so I like to shut off music. And because I make music all the time, I don’t really listen to a lot of the other. It’s just too much of a distraction.
FPH: So your upcoming album has had huge success with songs like the one that Lil Yachty is featured on. Are there any other collaborations that you can talk about that will be included?
Charli XCX: No, not yet. And to be honest, I haven’t even - I made a lot of the album during the middle of last year. I don’t think I’ll release it until, probably, next year. I kind of put it on pause for now, because I write so quickly that if I keep working on it now, I’ll write five albums instead of one, and that would be confusing to me. So when I know when my release date is I’ll write the rest of the album and think about that stuff. But I love collaborating with people, so hopefully they’ll be more features.
FPH: Finally, you play the main stage on Sunday. What can everyone planning on seeing you expect to witness at a Charli XCX set?
Charli XCX: A really big party with lots of badass girls and screaming, in a fun way. Not in a being murdered kind of way.
Charli XCX will perform from 3:00 to 3:50 pm on the Saturn Stage at FPSF, taking place June 3-4 at Houston’s Eleanor Tinsley Park. The festival runs from 11 am to 11 pm on Saturday and Sunday with tickets starting at $148.