Charli XCX

Gay Times Magazine - - Contents - WORDS nick levine

Clever, vi­sion­ary and in to­tal con­trol of her ca­reer, Charli XCX has al­ways been a pop star who stands out. She’s so fancy – you al­ready know. Here, she tells Gay Times how she

slayed the in­ter­net with this year’s sex­i­est and most sub­ver­sive mu­sic video, Boys.

Charlotte Aitchi­son has al­ways been a bit of a mav­er­ick. When she was just 14, this self-starter from Het­ford­shire dubbed her­self Charli XCX and posted tracks with ti­tles like !Franch­esck­aar! and Art Bitch on Mys­pace, which led to per­for­mances at a load of sketchy East Lon­don raves. Her mum would be wait­ing pa­tiently in the car out­side. A cou­ple of years later, she was snapped up by a ma­jor la­bel, and her ca­reer has grown steadily but un­con­ven­tion­ally ever since. You prob­a­bly know more Charli songs than you think: she co-wrote and fea­tured on Icona Pop’s I Love It and Iggy Aza­lea’s Fancy, and she scored a huge sum­mer hit in 2014 with the thump­ing Boom Clap.

This year, Charli, who’s still only 25, has been es­pe­cially pro­lific and sur­pris­ing. In March, she re­leased a “mix­tape” called Num­ber 1 An­gel, which turned out to be a sneak­ily fan­tas­tic pop al­bum. Record la­bel pol­i­tics just pre­vented her from call­ing it one. Then in July she wrong-footed us again with Boys, a bril­liant min­i­mal elec­tro bop with a su­per-sexy and sub­ver­sive mu­sic video.

“I was busy thinkin’ ‘bout boys, boys, boys”, Charli sings on the cho­rus, and the video shows us what some of these thoughts look like. Joe Jonas eats pan­cakes sug­ges­tively. Madonna’s pro­ducer Di­plo whips off his top and plays with pup­pies. Tom Da­ley gets, well, wet. The gifs from this video will be the gift that keeps on giv­ing.

“The song was done and I was think­ing about the mu­sic video, and I just had this idea of sexy guys do­ing sexy things”, Charli ex­plains over the phone from Ro­ma­nia, where she’s play­ing a gig. “I was think­ing about all the guys I’ve met work­ing in the mu­sic in­dus­try, and I just thought, ‘Do you know what? It would be re­ally cool if I got these dudes to do the sexy things for once.’ I made an ac­tive de­ci­sion not to be in the video my­self and to di­rect it in­stead. It kind of be­gan with me think­ing about Joe Jonas eat­ing pan­cakes in a sexy way. That was the trig­ger, I sup­pose, and it went from there.”

The ar­ray of male tal­ent Charli se­cured for the video is daz­zling: Stor­mzy, Riz Ahmed, Mark Ron­son, indie hero Mac DeMarco, and YouTube stars Cameron Dal­las and Con­nor Franta all ap­pear too. Char­lie says it took her four months to shoot them all, but no one needed too much per­suad­ing. “You know what, I was just re­ally hon­est with them”, she ex­plains. “I men­tioned the male gaze and this idea of re­vers­ing it so it was the guys do­ing the sexy things for once. I wasn’t try­ing to trick them into it, you know? They were all down. I was so happy that every­one got it and no one had any is­sues with do­ing what they were asked to do. I feel like that says a lot about con­tem­po­rary male artists in 2017. Ob­vi­ously more men are iden­ti­fy­ing as fem­i­nist – it’s not just girls that are fem­i­nists now – and mak­ing this video re­ally high­lighted that for me, which is so awe­some.”

By ask­ing male stars to adopt – and play with – roles tra­di­tion­ally re­served for women, the video could al­most be per­ceived as drag-like, although there’s no dress­ing up in­volved.

But were there any ideas that were just too out there to shoot? “Um, well I re­ally wanted a scene with a python but no one was brave enough to do it!” Maybe only Brit­ney can han­dle a python any­way? “I know, right?

Let’s leave the python to Brit­ney.”

If you opened Grindr dur­ing July and Au­gust, you may have no­ticed ad­verts for the Boys video, so pre­sum­ably Charli knew it would res­onate es­pe­cially well with a cer­tain por­tion of her fan­base. “I mean, I def­i­nitely knew my gay fans would be a bit more into this than some of my other videos, just be­cause there’s loads of man-candy there”, she says. “And I did see the meme go­ing round af­ter the video launched. What is it? ‘We’re do­ing it for the gays’, or some shit like that?”

We think Charli means the one of Real House­wife Erika Gi­rari say­ing, ‘I’m gonna give the gays ev­ery­thing they want.’

“Yes, that’s the one! I loved it.”

Charli is a plea­sure to chat to: sharp, per­cep­tive, and funny. She says she’s aware fans are clam­our­ing to hear a fin­ished ver­sion of Girls’ Night Out, a mas­sive song she’s played lives a few times. But at the mo­ment, she doesn’t want to di­vulge a re­lease date.

“That song has def­i­nitely been spo­ken about heav­ily on the in­ter­net. And it’s def­i­nitely some­thing I’ve been think­ing about. But that’s all I can say right now. Ha!” When we ask her plans for the rest of the year, she replies with­out miss­ing a beat: “I guess I might just be busy think­ing about boys...”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.