Charli XCX‘s debut EP is scheduled for release this spring, but she’s crashing the party in Austin this week, giving SXSW crowds an idea of what they can expect. “It’s finished and I’m really excited about it because I’ve been working on it since I got signed to Atlantic records four years ago,” she says of the still-untitled record. And just to emphasize how damn excited everyone is about this 19-year-old Londoner and her brooding, synth-laced music, she was handed one of the most coveted slots at the entire festival, following Fiona Apple’s set at tonight’s Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church. We spoke to her a few months ago about her guiltiest pleasure, first love, and that time she went to a rave with her parents.
How’s it going?
It’s going really great. I’m having a chill afternoon.
I’ve played your latest single with Balam Acab, “Nuclear Seasons’”on repeat.
I wrote “Seasons” last summer in L.A. I wanted to make this beautiful yet sort of decaying song.
Tell me about your debut album.
The album is finished and I’m really excited about it because I’ve been working on it for quite a long time now. I’m just ready for everyone to hear it. The album has a definite duality, there are some parts that are definitely more pop, where other parts are darker, moodier, and a bit more mysterious. The album is like two sides of my personality.
Do you remember the the first time you rebelled against your parents?
When I was 14, I started going to these underground warehouse parties in London. One night, my parents actually wanted to come along. What started out as my attempt at teenage rebellion ended up being a weird family outing to an illegal rave. My dad got offered a bunch of MDMA, but he’s got really bad hearing, so he thought that the guy said MDF, which is a word that you use for flooring. So my dad was like, ‘Yeah great! I’ll get loads of it!’ My dad thought he was buying laminate flooring, but instead he was unknowingly becoming a drug lord. It was kind of a weird night.
Did they have fun?
Yeah, they loved it and were really into it.
You’re dad really supports the music you’re making.
I mean it’s never been a kind of state school brat experience, but my parents believe in me.
What scared you most as a kid?
You know what, this is funny. Wasps. I was also really scared of the girl from The Ring. I couldn’t get videos from the video store because I always thought that I was going to get that tape, and then be attacked by the girl. I’d never answer phones in the house I was in because I thought the voice on the other end would say, ‘7 days!’
What’s the first thing or person that you fell in love with?
When I was younger it was probably the Spice Girls, just because I wanted to be them and I thought that their fashion was so awesome—and I still think it is. I also had like really weird attachments to flannels (shirts) which I use to pretend were dragons. To be honest, I was a weird kid.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
The television show The Hills and, I’m not embarrassed to say that, yeah, I’ll watch Heidi Montag doing her thing. I find her an amazing human being, no, that’s the wrong thing, not amazing, just a fascinating human being to watch on the T.V.
What is the thing you can’t wait for about getting older?
I think I’d be a rad, cool grandma. I’m looking forward to being the weird old lady that still wears platform boots and cotton trousers, I want people on the street to say ‘Oh yeah, that’s the crazy bitch again walking down the street.’
And then finally, what’s one band, film, actor or movement that everyone should know about?
Gabriel Bruce. I’ve literally only heard one song, but I mean it’s amazing and the video is amazing and as a plus, he’s got this Tom Waits-y type voice. His video is him literally dancing like Elvis.
And finally, who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Christina Ricci because she is a cool Wednesday Addams.
Styling by Alexis Knox.
Photography by Alis Pelleschi