Music

Allie X, the Future of Pop

Music

Allie X, the Future of Pop

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“Forget what I need, give me what I want,” asserts rising Toronto-born crooner Allie X on her blazing staccato single, “Prime.” Sonically, she’s brazenly “pop,” pumping out infectious tracks all drenched in glistening synthesizers. But beyond that, Allie is incredibly more complex: She’s cites Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung, medical motifs and the Beatles as core influences—three disparate ingredients that really work in Allie’s pop recipe.

After releasing three killer songs last year and garnering acclaim from Katy Perry for her sugary track, “Catch,” Allie mysteriously vanished before recently announcing her debut project CollXtion I, due out April 7. The experience of “Allie X” transcends music, giving heavy weight to a lineup of visuals that all boast an unusual, sci-fi aesthetic. Her signature jerky, spinning GIFs ground this multimedia experience, from Allie’s stark “Catch” video, to her more recent previews of the soaring CollXtion I tracks, “Sanctuary,” and, “Tumor.”

We recently caught up with the promising pop star to discuss the collective unconscious, the letter “X” and her online art “Xhibit.”

On “Catch:”

“The ‘Catch’ video was largely in collaboration with my director, Jérémie Saindon, so it was very much so his vision, as well. We wanted to do something that was felt, like more of a narrative experience. With the earlier visual—the GIF—that I released, I thought I’d established a feeling and wanted the new video to be an extension of that. The lyrics in ‘Catch’ draw a parallel between love and sedation, so that was a theme that ran throughout the video. We wanted to create different iconic images that conjured up questions and feelings, while all juxtaposing one another. There’s a lot of anatomical, sexual fluidity in the video—a lot of spinning, which is another theme we established.”

On psychology:

“I never got a degree in psychology and I’d never claim to be an expert, but there’s definitely a psychological aspect to what I’m doing. It’s more that I’m on a quest to learn about myself and where I fit within the world—why there are all these feelings and these patterns. I want to understand myself, so I can find peace, which is what I think everybody wants. I’m very interested in the collective unconscious, which is a sort of learned behavior in any species with a nervous system. On a lyrical side, the place that I write from is rather unconscious, which gets in my way when I’m trying to write pop songs because it’s often too abstract. I’m always trying to be more straightforward with my lyrics—they come from a place I don’t really understand.”

On pop:

“I tried to be more indie, but I loved soaring melodies—I loved huge hooks. I love listening to all sorts of music, but in terms of the music that naturally comes out of me, it’s pop. I suppose it comes from what I listened to growing up: Top 40 and musical theater. I don’t have to work at being pop.”

 

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On the letter “X:”

“The nature of my project is largely to raise questions, but not necessarily answer them. The letter ‘X’ in itself is a question and somewhat of a wild card. I like to think of it as something that you can adopt into your own life in order to give you the freedom to understand yourself better—to go deeper within yourself and maybe see things that you didn’t know were there, things you didn’t want to see or things that are even encouraging. There’s also a sense of anonymity that goes with the letter ‘X.’ By becoming Allie X, I was able to find a level of privacy and intimacy that I didn’t have before.”

On “Prime:”

“I wrote ‘Prime’ about being a young person—being self-destructive. It’s an ode to that time in your life when you know that what you’re doing is going to kick you in the ass one day, but you’re still doing it. Not only are you still doing it, but you’re also laughing about the fact that you’re doing it. Underneath it all, there’s still that sort of foreboding feeling of knowing that one day it’s not going to be like this anymore— the scariness of all that.”

On her online art “Xhibit:”

“I think music and popular culture are going in an interactive direction. I think it’s very important to be aware of the changing times in all media and I don’t think that the way the music industry is now is going to be around in 10 years. Besides that, and more importantly than that, this is a project that raises questions in a public sphere and I want to grapple with the answers publicly. In order to do that, I need to be able to hear what other X’s are saying and to give them a voice. My Xhibit is the way I do that.”

On Los Angeles:

“There’s a culture around music and writing in Los Angeles that doesn’t exist in Toronto. In Toronto there’s a lot of interesting music being done, but it doesn’t necessarily go anywhere. In the scene I was in, there wasn’t a priority on writing and creation—it was sort of like, ‘Let’s do it when we have time and money.’ In Los Angeles, everyone is going for broke and as a songwriter, you’re going to write a song a day or two songs a day. That was more the pace I was looking for, so I found it to be very refreshing when I got here. I felt I didn’t have to be timid about my vision anymore. All of the sudden, there were people who understood what I was doing. Pop music isn’t as big in Toronto, but Toronto was a great place to foster the ideas that I had. For now, however, Los Angeles is way more my pace.”