ACCLAIM: Charli XCX / by Slow Waves

Charli XCX is Ready to Do It All

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Y/PROJECT Silver Pearl Spiral Earrings from SLOW WAVES

Charli XCX was on the road for the better part of 2018, one of the three support acts who joined Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Reputation tour. Between Taylor’s dates, Charli released a string of stand-alone singles—some of the most joyful music of her career—without an album in sight. That was until January 3rd, weeks after our meeting, when she announced her sole New Year’s Resolution would be to give fans an official studio album.

Y/PROJECT Silver Pearl Spiral Earrings and Thigh High Tartan Boots from SLOW WAVES

The morning we met, Reputation had landed in Melbourne for a few days before heading to Japan. Charli arrived with a trio of friends: twin sisters Danielle and Nicole Kahlani—her makeup artist and hairstylist, respectively—and Henry Redcliffe, her behind-the-scenes photographer. “Taylor is so global,” Charli reflected, tucked away in a corner of the cavernous photostudio where we’d just wrapped shooting. “She plays in stadiums, and on my own, I could never do that.” (Ticket sales from a single Reputation show routinely grossed more than $6 million dollars).

In many ways, Charli’s Reputation experience was as close as she’d gotten to a traditional mass audience since 2014, when two songs she’d written cracked the Billboard 100 top 10. ‘Boom Clap’ peaked at eight, and Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ spent seven weeks at number one. Reflecting on the mega-hit, Charli laughed “I’m really happy I co-wrote it, because it paid for my house.”

At the same time, between Taylor’s super-shows, Charli was playing her own smaller headline dates, and throwing Pop 2 parties in tiny nightclubs supported by local queer performers. The parties’ namesake mixtape, released December 2017, is full of progressive and challenging pop recorded with icons like Kim Petras and Mykki Blanco. “The fans are a little older and mainly people from the queer community,” she said of the club events. “It feels more like a house party than a show.”

A few years ago, there might have been a clearer demarcation here: between Reputation Charli and Pop 2 Charli. Or maybe a sense that the weird, pop mad-scientist Charli would have to sever her ties to the underground to reach the mainstream heights her talent warranted. That idea feels incredibly distant today, particularly to Charli herself. “I never solidified myself in either one area or the other—at the time, that felt really negative. Now, that feels quite positive because I can really span between the two.” And this year, she’s ready to record the album where she does it all.

Photography Constantine Virtanen
Styling Sarah Pritchard
Hair Nicole Kahlani
Makeup Danielle Kahlani
Beauty Direction Georgia Gaillard
Styling Assistant Nat Pluch

Words by Acclaim, read the full interview HERE