Ahead of her upcoming Australian and New Zealand dates on Sia's all-female stadium tour alongside MØ and NZ's Theia, Charli XCX looks forward to the girl-gang tour and says excitedly, "It’s going to be really cool, and a really good time."
Coup De Main caught up with XCX recently while she was out on the road with Halsey, to discuss the work of art that is her 'Boys' music video, her upcoming next album, and the importance to her of not charging fans for meet & greets...
...I never want to do meet and greets per se, where it’s paid or any of that kind of shit, because that’s just not me. If people support me, I just wanna be there for them and hang out with them and have everyone feel like we’re all on one level - that’s the ideal.
COUP DE MAIN: Firstly and most importantly, thank you so much for making the ‘Boys’ music video, it’s truly a work of art. Do you want to continue directing your own music videos, and videos for other people?
CHARLI XCX: Thanks! Yeah, wherever I have the time to do other people’s music videos, I will - and same for my own. I just did another one for French Montana and Alma for their song ‘Phases’, and that was really, really fun. I really enjoy being behind the camera, actually more than being in front of it, so I’m definitely into the idea of doing more videos.
CDM: Side-note: Thank you for Flume’s glo-up look, Harley is the biggest babe in that video.
CHARLI: <laughs> Yeah, I really wanted to make him into a sexy nerd, ‘cuz he kind of already is that, so I just wanted to amp it up and give him a wind-machine and let him have his own Beyoncé moment. He did very well.
CDM: He’s living his best life now, even his Instagram posts are more 'aesthetic' than they used to be. It’s definitely thanks to you.
CHARLI: I’ll take all the credit.
CDM: At what stage are you at with the next Charli XCX album?
CHARLI: I’m still working on it... I’m kind of still refining it and writing. Every time I write a new song that I like, I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to put this on as well,’ so it’s ever-evolving. But it’s going to be out at some point next year.
CDM: Are 'Can You Hear Me' and 'Waterfall' (which have been mentioned by you in past interviews) both still slated for the album?
CHARLI: I’m not really going to say anything about that. I don’t really know. Those songs leaked, so I don’t really want to talk about them.
CDM: Are you doing A&R on the new album, as you did on 'Sucker'?
CHARLI: Yeah, I kind of book all my own sessions and I decide who’s producing my record - I oversee everything. So yes, I will be. There’s been SOPHIE, A.G. Cook, Stargate, and BloodPop are the main kind of people who are on this album, and some of my favourite writers, like Noonie Bao, are also making appearances, so it’s like a very small family of us and we work together a lot. It’s good.
CDM: You’re coming back to New Zealand to support Sia this December and we’re so excited - what will it take for you to have ‘Need Ur Luv’ in your set-list?! It’s my favourite Charli song of all time.
CHARLI: <laughs> Thank you. You know what, I haven’t actually played that song for a while, I guess because my set is kind of short when I’m doing the opening stuff, and I want to do the crowd-pleasers, or whatever. So I’m not sure it’ll be on the set, but hopefully one day I’ll put it back in. I really enjoy singing that song as well, I made it with one of my best friends, Rostam [Batmanglij], so it definitely is a cool song for me.
CDM: The performance you did with Rostam on top of the piano on Letterman was a highlight of that album cycle for me.
CHARLI: Oh, yeah, I loved that performance! That was very fun to do that with him, it was really great.
CDM: We actually interviewed Rostam on the phone recently, and he had a question for you… He asks: “Where were you when you wrote ‘I Love It’, and how old were you? I think that’s an interesting question that I think people would be curious to know.”
CHARLI: <laughs> Oh my god, he’s so funny. I was like sixteen when I wrote 'I Love It', 16 or 17, and I wrote it in my hotel room in Stockholm. I was over in Sweden for the first time working with Patrick Berger, who’s one of the producers on that song, and I was really nervous to go to the studio, so I just asked him to send me a beat and I wrote it in my hotel room. My boyfriend at the time was sat in bed, and I was writing it, and he was like, ‘What is this song about?’ And I was just like, ‘I really don’t know,’ because for me, I didn’t know. And then I went to the studio the next day to meet Patrick and I played it to him, and that was kind of it. That was the song.
CDM: We also have a question for you from Lauv, who you co-wrote ‘Boys’ with. He wants to know if he can star in your next music video in a burrito costume?
CHARLI: Sure! Why not? That sounds wild, we can make a food-themed video.
CDM: I love that the Sia tour is an all-female line-up, it’s like the ultimate girl-gang tour. Did you know about the all-female acts when you signed on to the tour?
CHARLI: Yeah, I did. I thought the concept was really cool. Obviously I’m a fan of Sia, MØ and I are good friends and we’ve worked together a lot. Amy Shark, I don’t know her work so much, but everyone I’ve spoken to about these shows is like super excited that she’s doing them, so I can’t wait to check out her show. I think it’s going to be really cool, and a really good time.
CDM: You’re also currently on tour with Halsey at the moment. Do you think that the music industry is becoming more of a supportive space when it comes to women in pop music?
CHARLI: I think definitely within women. Women/female artists and musicians are always nowadays very vocal about supporting each other, and everybody wants each other to win, and I think that’s really cool. It’s a very positive environment to be around.
CDM: I love that you’re meeting as many fans possible on the Halsey tour at merch stands and around the venue - for free too. Do you find it important to reciprocate the investment that fans make in you?
CHARLI: Oh yeah, for sure. I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone after these shows. Sometimes they’re not even there for me, obviously it’s Halsey’s show, sometimes they’re there for her, so it’s nice to meet new fans. It’s nice to meet people who’ve waited to meet me for years, it’s really cool. I feel like I never want to do meet and greets per se, where it’s paid or any of that kind of shit, because that’s just not me. If people support me, I just wanna be there for them and hang out with them and have everyone feel like we’re all on one level - that’s the ideal.
CDM: I really respect that you’ve never ever done paid meet & greets with your fans - and you always have really cool ways to keep in touch your fans (i.e. the Angel phone, etc). Has this been a conscious decision of yours to never charge fans a monetary value for your time?
CHARLI: Yeah, just because I don’t want to make money off these kids - that’s not why I make music. Music doesn’t even make money anymore anyway when people buy it or stream it or whatever, so I don’t want to be charging them just to come and say hi to me. So yeah, I think for me, that is important.
CDM: You spoke a little while back about when you were in Shanghai where you came up with a really cool TV show idea - is this something that you still want to pursue?
CHARLI: Yeah! I’ve actually been in a lot of pitch meetings with multiple different networks about this show. I can’t really say too much about it, but it’s going pretty good, so I’m very excited. Honestly, it’s a whole new world, I don’t even-- I have no idea what’s going to happen with it. But I’m just riding the wave right now.
CDM: You said to The Fader: “I think it’s something I’m good at — recognizing who could work together and which producers can enhance someone in the best way.” Is it important for you to have Vroom Vroom Recordings as this outlet, e.g. you working with Cuckoolander on her new EP?
CHARLI: Yeah, I am. She just released something yesterday, it’s something that Rostam produced, and Danielle Haim is doing guitar on it. It is really important. For Cuckoolander, it’s cool for her to have this outlet, and we’ve known each other for a really long time and it’s really nice to work with friends, and I’m really happy that she’s making the music that she loves, with people who we both love.
CDM: How did getting Danielle Haim on guitar happen?
CHARLI: That was all Rostam and Cuckoolander. I wasn’t there while that song was being recorded, they recorded it in LA at Rostam’s place, I think. Obviously Rostam and Danielle work together a lot, and I think that’s kind of how it happened - they both just had the idea to do it.
CDM: Do you have plans to sign any other artists to Vroom Vroom Recordings?
CHARLI: At the moment, no, I’m just focussing on the Cuckoolander stuff, but I’m sure eventually, yes.
CDM: See you soon! When you were last in New Zealand we adopted you a lion from the Auckland Zoo, so maybe you can go and visit it.
CHARLI: Oh my god, I love that idea! That would be very cool.
Charli XCX opens for Sia’s NZ show next week on December 5th - click here for tickets.
Watch the ‘Boys’ music video below…