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Interview: Allie X about her new album 'Cape God'.

Interview: Allie X about her new album 'Cape God'.

"I think it's a time for everyone to be community-centred in all the choices that we make. It's a time for the world to slow down and reflect on the choices that we made that got us here and how we can heal the world and each other and the best ways to move forward," Allie X shared over a phone call in March, reflecting on the current state of the world.

Having released her sophomore album 'Cape Cod' in February, and subsequently cancelling the accompanying tour (she continues, "I was very sad about the cancellation of the tour, but also it would have been selfish and irresponsible to do it"), the Canadian artist explored her personal experiences through the lens of a fictionalised world, Cape Cod. Featuring duets with Troye Sivan ('Love Me Wrong') and Mitski ('Susie Save Your Love'), the twelve-track release sees Allie X use both sarcasm and lyrical honesty atop layered pop songs, which she predominantly worked on with Swedish producer Oscar Görres.

We spoke with Allie X about ideas of identity, outsiders in society, the constant need to be learning, and more...

...I want to keep learning, even though it's painful. I want to keep making mistakes. I want to keep growing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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COUP DE MAIN: I really love the lines in 'Fresh Laundry' when you sing, "You said you're always on my side / But what if my side has changed too much?" About writing that song, you said the lyrics kind of flowed out of you. Looking back, why do you think you were delving into the ideas of identity in that song?
ALLIE X: I've always explored identity as an overarching theme. I think the reason that I make music and the thesis of the Allie X project has always been trying to figure out who I am, what my truth is, and what my path is in this short time that I have on earth. With that song specifically, it's weird because I wrote those lyrics two years before I started writing 'Cape God', before I knew what 'Cape God' was and what the concept was. I was in the bathtub early one morning because I couldn't sleep, and I was looking around this Hollywood apartment bathroom that I was in and it looked kind of dirty and it smelled kind of musty and I could see dust on the floor and I just thought, 'I want to be near fresh laundry; I wish that these towels were fresh, I wish I was in a spotless bathroom,' which made me think of the bathrooms that I had growing up, where my mom would always make sure everything was clean and taken care of. Then I started thinking about my mom and about this thing that happened when I was a kid. I was in kindergarten, this kid stole my toys, and then as a joke, I pushed him but it caught him off guard and he fell into a shelf and his whole face was bleeding. I was horrified, the teacher thought that I did it on purpose and sent me to the principal's office and they told me I was a bully. I remember I thought that my parents were going to punish me and be mad at me and not believe me that it had been an accident. I told my mom what had happened and she believed me and she said, "We're always on your side." I think as I grew up, I used to think about how she said that to me, and then I would start crying, it was sort of a memory that kept repeating itself because I felt like I changed too much. So that's what that lyric was. I was just saying, "You said, you're always on my side. But what if my side has changed too much?" I'm such a different person than I was then when I was a kid. 'Will you still be on my side if you understood who I am now?' That's where that lyric came from. There was no thought of the 'Cape God' place at the time or anything like that. I had it in my iPhone for a while. Cut to that song being out, this old friend of mine, she's very spiritual, she's a student of Ravi Shankar and she wrote to me, 'Do you realise that you wrote a transcendent lyric and it's about letting go of your old self, and now you're ready to go to a higher level?' I was like, 'No, it's just a personal lyric.' I think that lyric definitely like hits people in different ways. I think I was writing it on one level, but on another level, I was letting go of something and I think I was ready to sort of move into a new part of my life.

CDM: Your voice sounds so good on 'Regulars' in the low register in the song. Why do you think that society has such a division between what is considered 'normal' and 'abnormal'?
ALLIE: Good question. I haven't really thought about that. I think it has to do with control and order and following rules and following behavioural rules and following social rules, just so people stay orderly and safe. Maybe that's what it is. What do you think?
CDM: It's weird to think that society at some point decided that there always has to be an outcast or someone that doesn't belong.
ALLIE: It's human nature to worship God, and people like celebrities, or politicians. It's human nature to blame and to scapegoat people. I'm not sure where that came from. I wonder if we go back to the beginning of time, like when we were Neanderthals, were we doing that? I don't know... It's a survival thing.
CDM: I also think that a lot of people that people consider abnormal, people don't know how to understand them properly. They just decide that it's too hard to try to understand them, so they get put into a box.
ALLIE: Yeah, it's also funny because the people that are often thought of as 'weird' and 'outsiders' and 'different' are always the ones that end up being... the outliers are always the ones who change history and invent things and make art that influences the time. I guess it requires a certain level of bravery to be different and to be defiant about it. I don't really have a formed opinion on this and I'm just thinking out loud.

CDM: We love 'June Gloom'! What was running through your mind writing that song?
ALLIE: There's definitely a sarcasm to it. "June gloom / Oh, doom, doom / And we're feeling the big decay / So put up your hands and say," it's kind of like, the world is ending, put up your hands! <laughs> Which is very relevant right now. I think it's my most relevant to the time song that I have. I was thinking about having chronic health problems and being stuck inside and what that experience is like because that's something that I've personally experienced a lot. The visual is being stuck in your bed in a bedroom and looking outside and watching life go by. Then there's also that theme I touched on which is like, everyone's gonna die, the world could end at any moment.

CDM: Do you enjoy like inserting sarcasm into your music as well as having songs which are on a deeper level at the same time?
ALLIE: Yeah I do. It's in 'June Gloom', it's in 'Regulars' - those are the two with the most sarcasm, oh and 'Super Duper Party People' and 'Life Of The Party' are full of sarcasm as well. It's just kind of how I speak, that's my way of communication if I'm talking to somebody, and lyrically as well. I am a sarcastic person for better for worse.

CDM: The instrumentation on your song 'Rings A Bell' is also very cool - the bassline is amazing! You've said the song existed in your Notes for a long time, was it satisfying to get to that final version? Was it a long process to build that song?
ALLIE: The only thing that existed in Notes was 'Rings A Bell' - literally just the title. I just knew that I wanted to write a song where the hook was "rings a bell" because I love the theme of nostalgia and déjà vu in general, and I knew that I wanted it to have a bell sound. I love the production on that one too - Oscar Görres produced it, he killed it, he's so brilliant. He deserves a lot of credit, he was really my partner in crime on 'Cape God'. So shout-out to Oscar. The bass line on 'Rings A Bell' was actually played on guitar, he used some sort of a plug-in that pitched down the tone of guitar to a bass sound. That was used on a bunch of different songs.

CDM: 'Love Me Wrong' is very emotive in the way it explores how love works. What are the most important parts of a love that is right, do you think?
ALLIE: I'm not the best person to ask. I am in a long-term relationship now though, which I never thought would happen. The things that make that relationship work are honesty, patience, compassion, kindness, and friendship. I was pretty sure that I would never be in a long relationship. I saw myself as that solitary person through life. I still don't know if I believe in everlasting love, which is why I don't know if I believe in marriage. To be clear, everyone should have the option of getting married. Being in relationships, it really can teach you a lot. Same with friendship, I think just in general, being intimate with a person, not necessarily sexually, I think it's a really important part of being a human and growth and learning and it's been very transformational for me to be so intimate with someone else. I've learned how to share; I've grown so much.

CDM: In the outro of that song, you sing, "I'll never be how you remember me." It's strange to think about how someone's memory of you can be entirely different to how you are as a person. Do you think that memories can be a dangerous way for someone to exist?
ALLIE: Yeah, I do. Memories can be so beautiful, and when I die, I hope that I have all these amazing, beautiful memories in my mind. I don't want to not have memories, but I think people change. People change, people grow, it's the reason why I don't think you're necessarily supposed to be with the same people your whole life. I feel like I've been different people in my life and I've really gone through chapters. When I was a young kid, I was really loud and eccentric and happy, just a typical Leo kid, I guess. Then when I hit around the age of 11 or 12, I changed, and I became much more quiet and destructive and kind of sad. My family asked me like, 'Why did you change? It's like a light went off in you.' I didn't know how to answer that question, and I still don't. I don't feel like it was fair to ask that question. The question to ask is, 'Are you okay? What can we do to help?' I think I've changed again, since then I have a completely different persona now. I'm very close to my family, but I just think in general people change, and you shouldn't be attached to a former version of someone because it's natural to grow. It's natural to evolve, and that's what that lyric is about. It's about feeling like, 'Am I less lovable now because I'm different?' And being scared to show yourself to someone because you've changed.

CDM: In 'Susie Save Your Love', you sing about Susie and her relationship with Marshall, "She's been trying to solve him," which is an interesting concept as it's so common in relationships for people to try and fix and change each other to suit them better. Do you think pop-culture has conditioned us to this thinking?
ALLIE: I think particularly women changing men to become better men is a thing that's very much a part of the culture. I'm of two minds about it. I have been very changed, being in a long term relationship with someone, because that person was very nurturing and accepted me, and that acceptance and guidance helped me grow into an adult woman who is more compassionate and nurturing and confident. That's an example of good growth and a good relationship. But I've seen throughout my life, my friends dating people that aren't nice to them and don't allow them to grow, and they feel like it's their responsibility to heal them. I've been that person, if I'm being honest, with someone else. It's your responsibility to heal this person and sort of sacrifice yourself for the sake of their happiness or the potential of the relationship and that bothers me. It's very circumstantial and depends on the relationship.

CDM: 'Learning In Public' is a really nice end to the album. Why do you think that we should always try to learn more as we go through life?
ALLIE: I think there's this thing with getting older and settling down where people find their husband or wife, and they find their city that they're going to live in and they have their kids and they pick their political party and they pick their religion and they go practice their religion. They sort of stop evolving. They stop asking questions and they stop getting curious and they think they have it all figured out and I never want to be one of those people. I want to keep learning, even though it's painful. I want to keep making mistakes. I want to keep growing. I always want to be in touch with what the youngest generation is feeling and thinking. That's how I want to live my life.

Allie X's album 'Cape God' is out now - listen below:

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