by Avalon Lee
From a young age, Charlotte Aitchison knew she was destined to be a musician. At 14 years old, she began to make her transformation into Charli XCX… which was her MSN chat account name. “Charlotte was too pretty for me… and I’m kind of scruffy… so that’s why it’s Charli,” Aitchison explains, and “XCX stands for Kiss Charli Kiss.”
It’s only appropriate that Charli’s name evolved from her online persona, as her career ultimately took off after posting demos on her MySpace page. “This guy from London started contacting me over the internet asking me to come and play his parties. They were like club kid parties in warehouses. I started going up to play these shows every weekend after school and I became a regular in that scene.” It’s hard to deny that Aitchison’s work doesn’t remind you of a well put together Tumblr – the epitome of modern youth pop culture. Check out her video for “What I Like” and see the artistry for yourself.
Speaking of Tumblr, Aitchison shared an experience with me that will not be fading from her memory any time soon. It began with Charli XCX’s headlining show in Manchester with a completely rowdy crowd. “This girl at the front stole my microphone as memorabilia and she was like posting pictures of it on Tumblr and stuff the next day.” That seems overwhelmingly typical of a Charli XCX fan. “I had to get someone to track her down and get it back from her. She sent it back in this pink packaging, all really cute, with a note and stuff…. It was kind of weird, but kind of funny too.” Hopefully there won’t be any comparable scenarios occurring at her Philadelphia show at Union Transfer on June 1st. You can pick up your ticket here.
Adding on to Aitchison’s impressive resume is the credit for writing the current Icona Pop hit, “I Love It”, which she is featured on as well. Aitchison explains, “I wrote that in my hotel room in Sweden in a half an hour, and that was that”. At twenty years old, she has gotten her foot in many aspects of the music business. “It’s just something I love,” she says, “for me, writing is very spontaneous – some days I’ll just have nothing and be so frustrated with myself, or bored with it, because nothing comes to me and I can’t really force anything out.”
“I always wanted to be a musician,” Aitchison rationalizes, “when I was younger, I was obsessed with Britney. I think I kind of knew from then that this was what I wanted to do. I saw the ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ video and everything changed for me. I got the scrunchies and everything.” Aitchison’s music, however, is in an entirely different realm than the candy pop of early Britney Spears. “I don’t want to be like Britney anymore… but I think that was kind of a spark for me,” she justifies, “but the first people who really inspired me to start making music were all the artist signed to Ed Banger Records like Uffie, Justice, Sebastian… people like that. I found the whole French Electro scene so inspiring. I don’t have idols though… they freak me out.”
Aitchison’s full-length album released in April, True Romance, is filled with electro-pop anthems, chilling vocals and the ability to be young and wild while mature all in the same instance. The album was reported to have been five years in the making, although Aitchison vindicated that only one of the songs on the album was actually written that many years back, when she was merely 15 years old. “Most of it was written when I was 18 or 19… the gap in the middle was just me being a teenager and trying things out. But, over these past five years the goal has definitely been to write an album. I’m so glad it’s out now.”
The entire process of Aitchison’s career, evolving from such a young age, came as an out of this world whirlwind of events. Her music was quickly appearing on runways in London and New York (for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Victoria’s Secret), while she was appearing in gorgeous haute couture spreads as well. At the end of the day, Aitchison says her favorite part of the entire recording process is “hearing [True Romance] as a complete body of work.” Rightfully so, knowing the amount of work and dedication that went into the creation of True Romance. “I kind of thought it would never happen. It’s so strange to hear your thoughts and feelings all compiled onto one CD. It’s weird. Sometimes listening to it makes me cry just because it’s so strange for me to have an album. I think some people were really doubting me… or like, doubting whether it was going to be good. But I knew all along that it would be perfect. Well, it is in my eyes.” That’s the attitude, Charli!
How does Aitchison stay humble with her rising stardom at 20 years old? “My friends constantly make fun of me now,” she jokes, “but I think that’s good. It keeps me on the ground. They think it’s all really funny.”