Charli XCX: “I’m a musician, not just a puppet”

The Break The Rules singer talks touring, dream collaborations and her BRIT nomination.

Charli XCX’s star is rising fast. Having earned her first UK Number 1 back in 2013 with self-penned Icona Pop collaboration I Love It, the 22-year-old has since scored three more Top 40 hits including Top 5 anthem Fancy with Iggy Azalea and The Fault In Our Stars track Boom Clap.

And, with the UK release of her long-awaited third studio album Sucker, the singer-songwriter could be set to make her Official Albums Chart Top 40 debut this week. We catch up with the woman of the moment to chat all things music...

Hi Charli, Sucker is finally out in the UK this week after being released in the US back in December; are you excited that it’s going to be released in the UK after such a long wait?

"Absolutely! I’m really excited to have the album out here finally because I feel like people are excited to hear it, and I’ve got some special edition tracks just for the UK and Europe so I’m really looking forward to it.

"It’s annoying that it had to come out later in the UK, but with the logistics it just had to be that way. I haven’t done a proper tour of this album yet so the first place I’ll be touring it properly in full is in the UK. I’m very much looking forward to that - I’ve never actually done a full tour so that’s a really big thing for me."

The response to the record in America was overwhelmingly positive, which must be encouraging? 

"It’s really great to know that people like it, but because I’m from the UK and this is my home country, it’s more intense. It means more, but at the same time I’m very selfish when it comes to songwriting and I really write songs for myself, not for other people - I don’t think about my audience until after [the songs] are out. I’m very happy with the songs and they all mean something to me so I feel good about it!"

Is it important to you to only release music you've been involved with from the start?

"Yeah, because I’m not just someone who will take a song and sing it, I don’t like it when people put words in my mouth. It’s very important to me to be writing as well because I’m a musician, I’m not just a puppet."

What's your favourite track on Sucker?

"Probably a song called Need Ur Luv which I wrote with Rostam from Vampire Weekend. I do really love Doing It as well. It’s great that I get to do that song with Rita [Ora] because she’s so much fun to be around."

You write for a lot of other artists - Iggy Azalea, James Blunt, Neon Jungle to name a few. Are there any songs that you’ve given away that you wished you’d kept for yourself?

"No, whenever I give something away I really think it through. I haven’t regretted anything yet but who knows. I always feel like when I write a song and I want to give it to someone it’s because there just isn’t a connection there for me. Usually when I connect with a song I’ll see the music video straight away and I’ll see colours and sometimes I don’t see that with songs and I’ll know then that it’s not meant for me."

Charli XCX Rita Ora Doing It.jpg

Are there any songs in the Official Singles Chart right now that you wish you’d written?

"I love FourFiveSeconds, I think that song is amazing and really beautiful - it’s a really cool direction for Rihanna."

Are you working with anyone exciting at the moment?

"I’ve actually been really lucky to be working on some stuff for Gwen Stefani behind the scenes, which is kind of a dream because she’s so badass! Aside from that I think most of my dream collaborators are dead actually - Lou Reed, Marc Bolan... people like that."

Success has been a long time coming for you (Charli started recording her debut album at the age of 14), has working for such a long time to get to this point made you more appreciative of things that are happening for you now?

"It’s kind of a blur but I definitely 100% appreciate of it. When I found out I got nominated for a BRIT Award (Boom Clap is nominated for British Video) I was very excited because it’s nice to be finally recognised in my own country. I feel like I’m definitely meant to be here, I’ve worked very hard for what I have and that’s a really nice feeling. I don’t at all feel like I’ve had it handed to me on a plate."

You’re around superstars on a daily basis now, is there anyone that still makes you starstruck?

"To be honest the one person who really made me starstruck was Bill Murray - I have such a crush on him. I was in the hotel lobby in GRAMMYs week and he was behind me and I didn’t realise. He complimented my shoes and I turned round and saw it was Bill Murray and just freaked out, I didn’t know what to do. I just panicked and ran out!"

We recently saw you perform at MTV’s Brand New and LOVED your dance moves, what do you think is the formula for a good stage show?

"Someone who doesn’t care what they look like and someone who has a powerful personality. I like to make the audience sweat, I don’t care about looking stupid. I just want to be wild and free, there are very few performers who do it like that anymore. People are conscious about looking good and I don’t really care about that, I just want to make sure the audience are having the best time ever. I like aggression in stage shows as well, I like power."

You’re on the road pretty solidly for the next couple of months now; what's the one thing you can't live without on the road?

"I’m lucky that I sometimes get to take my friends on tour which is really cool. Apart from that, I always like to decorate my tour bus with fairy lights and stick-on stars everywhere and make it really homely."

Sucker is out now.

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