Charli XCX and Christine & The Queens talk ‘untangling the patriarchy’ and the genius of Robyn

"I feel like if I was a man, I would be more accepted for what I've done."

Charli XCX and Christine And The Queens have spoken of how “change needs to come from the ground up” to tackle sexism within the music industry. Watch our interview with the pair above.

The pair were speaking backstage at the NME Awards 2020 after presenting Robyn with Songwriter Of The Decade. Following their speech, they spoke to NME about the continued discussion around the need for gender-balanced festival line-ups following some backlash to the recent Reading & Leeds bill announcement.

“They just need to book more women, but the thing is that this conversation has been going on for so long,” Charli told NME. “I feel like this literally happened last year with Reading & Leeds. The line-up came out and everybody was like, ‘There aren’t enough women on this line-up’. Nothing has changed. Nothing. What can be done? It’s our responsibility to talk about this and be as open as we can.

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“The change needs to come from the industry itself and the ground up. Yes, the festival needs to book females but the industry as a whole needs to recognise women working within it: producers, writers, A&Rs, executives, anything.”

She added: “I feel like if I was a man, I would be more accepted for what I’ve done.”

Christine, real name Héloïse Letissier, agreed. “When you are a woman you need to say no twice as much,” she said. “You have to justify yourself way more. You are being judged way more for your achievements. It’s exhausting. It’s even just the small details. Every day in every woman’s life, those small details do matter a lot – in music and everywhere else. We still have a lot of work to do to untangle the patriarchy.

“It is exhausting, and we are exhausted.”

Charli XCX and Christine & The Queens at the NME Awards 2020. Credit: Dean Chalkley
Charli XCX and Christine & The Queens at the NME Awards 2020. Credit: Dean Chalkley

Meanwhile, the pair also opened up about their love of Robyn.

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“What’s not to love? She’s just so unique and I feel like she’s just done her own thing since day one,” Charli told NME. “She has paved the way for pop artists who don’t play by the rules. I feel so inspired by her, constantly.”

Letissier added: “Her songwriting is so wonderfully clear. Some songs are already legendary: ‘Dancing On My Own’ is a perfect pop song. She never compromised with how she wanted to exist as a woman. She grew older, wiser, and she kept being around without being smoothed out or shying away from deep issues. I think this is really powerful as a woman. It’s multi-faceted and I love it.”

Robyn receives the NME Songwriter Of The Decade gong at the NME Awards 2020
Robyn receives the NME Songwriter Of The Decade gong at the NME Awards 2020 Credit: NME

Charli and Christine recently collaborated together on the track ‘Gone‘, and now tease that they could be teaming up again.

“Maybe it’s too early to say but it’s addictive to work with you [Charli] so I would gladly say yes,” said Letissier. “It’s not a no!”

Speaking of why they work so well together, Charli admitted: “We’re both quite emo, and we both feel quite awkward in social situations. Tonight, it’s really good that we’re together.”

“I was about to say something more mysterious takes place – it’s chemistry,” added Letissier. “You can’t predict chemistry.”

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