Charli XCX’s diverse debut recording is called “True Romance.”

Charli XCX’s diverse debut recording is called “True Romance.”

Charli XCX goes from art school to pop charts

British wunderkind Charlotte Aitchison is proud of her artistic alter ego Charli XCX, whose dazzling debut “True Romance” blends pop, electronic dance music, hip-hop and vintage new wave, tinted with gothic flourishes.

To compose diverse tracks such as the panoramic “Nuclear Seasons,” the rap-power-ballad hybrid “What I Like” and the Bananarama-meets-Banshees “Black Roses,” Charli XCX (formerly her MSN Messenger ID) refused to listen to contemporary music.

“I’m not really inspired by notes on a scale at all, and I don’t really get inspired by other artists,” says the 21-year-old, who plays Slim’s in The City this weekend.

Even though her single “I Love It” (recorded with Swedish duo Icona Pop) has been certified platinum, she says, “I’m more inspired by movies and my favorite photographers than I am by other sounds. And I think there’s something really charming and beautiful about reading a book.”

Always creative and on the edge, she remains pleased with cutting-edge projects she concocted two years ago in art school, just as her XCX concept was coming together.

“I was studying fine art and making a lot of installations,” Aitchison says. One was a makeshift re-creation of a teenage girl’s bedroom, plastered with posters of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, then sprayed with blood-red paint spelling the phrase “Britney lives on!”

“Then I would dress up as Britney and perform ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ in this really long, weird, broken performance that everyone in class found very cringe-y and awkward when they had to stand through it.”

Some students appreciated her creativity. Most did not. Undaunted, she kept pushing the parameters.

Her finest hour, she says, was her Barbie House of Horrors, made from a plastic dollhouse and a collection of Barbies. It was not G-rated.

“I took off all their heads and replaced them with animal heads, like alligators and monkeys, rhinos and leopards,” she explains. “Then I cut all their hair really weird and dyed it blue and green, then put them all in this house in really weird positions and I wrote all over the side of it. Everybody really liked that one, so I didn’t have to explain it too much.”

That’s why the singer left the university after one year — she was tired of clarifying her work to professors. “I didn’t enjoy it there, so instead I released an album and then had to explain myself all over again,” she says, laughing.

At 14, she was posting early demo-dirges like “Art Bitch” online. As she began playing warehouse raves later, her sound rapidly matured, as did her tastes.

IF YOU GO

Charli XCX

Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $19 to $21

Contact: (415) 522-0333, www.slimspresents.comartsCharli XCXPop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Smoking cannabis (Shutterstock)
Supes ban tobacco smoking in apartments but exempt cannabis

San Francisco banned smoking and vaping of tobacco in apartments Tuesday night,… Continue reading

Dr. Grant Colfax and Mayor London Breed said new restrictions could come this week due to rising COVID-19 cases.<ins> (Examiner screenshot)</ins>
Breed: ‘More restrictive action’ needed to slow spread of COVID-19

San Francisco officials said Tuesday tougher restrictions will soon be imposed to… Continue reading

Many landlords fought the proposal requiring them to register properties, calling it an invasion of privacy. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
Housing inventory wins unanimous approval from supervisors

Legislation will require landlords to register properties, report vacancies and rents

Harlan Kelly, head of the SFPUC and husband to City Administrator Naomi Kelly (right), faces federal charges for allegedly trading inside information on a city contract in return for a paid family vacation. (Courtesy photo)
Harlan Kelly, head of SFPUC, charged with fraud in widening Nuru scandal

Kelly accused of engaging in corrupt partnership with permit expediter

Jeff Tumlin, director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said the agency’s fiscal situation is “far worse” than the worse case scenarios projected back in April. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA prepares for massive potential layoffs as budget crisis continues to build

More than 1,200 full-time jobs on the line as agency struggles to close deficit

Most Read