“Can you hear my voice? It’s completely fucked!” Charli XCX greets us with the kind of 5am cackle that would make Honor Titus proud. Midway through a whistlestop US tour promoting debut album ‘True Romance’, the 20-year-old declares that she’s in “party time” mode at present. She’s pretty great at this, it turns out – whether stage-bombing Wiley with bezzie Caroline Polachek from Chairlift (“We were going fucking mental together at this Australian festival and before I know it she’s got a tambourine and we’re up there with him. He loved it!”), out-boozing Peace and Palma Violets at US fratboy house parties, or puking her guts up in the head offices of a terribly serious New York style magazine (“I’d ended up at this mad Ludacris party the night before with Marina [Diamandis] – we were off our heads,” she reasons).
Charli’s been doing this – travelling, making music, getting fucked up – since the age of 14, when her 8-bit goth pop, which she now casually refers to as “fucking terrible MySpace music” plucked her from Hertfordshire schoolgirl obscurity and placed her smack bang in the middle of east London’s perennially awful cyberpunk rave scene. Major labels came calling, but it was all too early for her to make any real headway. Unsurprisingly, she loathes talking about those days now – but crucially, she realises it was this “lost” phase that allowed her to gestate into the pop star she is today. ‘True Romance’, with its Grimes-meets-Marina via Wednesday Adams’ kitsch-weirdness, is the culmination of six years of craziness; a frazzled concoction of noughties pop that is as scatty as it is vibrant. “I want my gigs to be like you’re walking into my brain,” Charli proclaims, riffing on this. “I wanna turn every wall into a screen, with pulled footage from my favourite films. My world, basically, all in 3D. But I’m broke!”
She might not be that way for too much longer – her 2012 Icona Pop collaboration ‘I Love It’ continues to go sync-crazy in the States, while Coldplay have already come calling and had her open for them on their European tour. “I’m just going with it,” she shrugs. “I’ve been doing this long enough to realise that one minute you could be on top of the world and the next everything turns to shit. My life is completely schizophrenic.”
For Fans Of: Grimes, Lykke Li
Buy It Now: ‘True Romance’ is out on Monday (April 15)
See Her Live: Charli’s UK tour kicks off in London on April 17
Believe It Or Not: Following her Coldplay tour support, Charli’s advice for playing stadiums is: “1) Don’t be scared to look into the cameras. 2) Don’t wear a fucking short skirt and flash your pants at everyone.”