When brainy British singer Charlotte Aitchison issued her major-label debut “True Romance” in 2013, under the moniker Charli XCX, she was hoping to strike commercial paydirt with its diverse, sonically adventurous material.
Yet overnight stardom did not happen as a result of the album, but with “I Love It,” a sugary pop confection by Swedish duo Icona Pop she co-wrote, which hit the Billboard Top 10. Charli XCX was prominently featured in the video, and indeed, her life changed – but for the worse.
“I felt just very down after the success of ‘I Love It.’ Firstly, I felt like I hadn’t gotten the credit I deserved for that song, and secondly, I was getting sick and tired of people asking me to go in the studio and replicate that song for myself and other artists. I was being treated like a machine, so it was around then I shut myself away,” she says.
On Saturday in The City, she’ll premiere her upcoming album “Sucker,” with new cuts such as “Break the Rules” and the single “Boom Clap” (included on the recent “The Fault in Our Stars” soundtrack), her first chart-topper under her own name.
Although Charli XCX, 22, enjoyed collaborating with Australian hip-hopper Iggy Azalea on the multi-platinum smash “Fancy” (underscored by a campy video with the gals re-enacting the movie “Clueless”), mindless requests from record company execs gave her panic attacks.
Hoping to cash in on her sound with new assembly-line, all-girl bands, they wanted her to make an entire album of “I Love It”-like songs, with a dash of Azealia Banks' hit “212.” She told them, “I can't really replicate that – it just kind of happened, and I don't know how.”
After sinking into depression, and even toying with a career writing songs instead of recording them, the Indian/Scottish-descended upstart flew to Sweden to track two-minute punk anthems with producer Patrik Berger.
“I was even covering songs by his old band Snuffed By the Yakuza, and I kind of found my voice again,” she says. “I got out a lot of aggression, and it put me in a better place.” Three poppy Berger co-writes made it onto “Sucker”; the more propulsive material will be on a future EP.
Now Charli XCX doesn’t worry about success. Thanks to “Fancy,” she says, “I’m luckily in a place where a lot of people could hear my new record. If one person hears it? Great. And if a million people hear it, also great. I’m jut happy making music.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Oct. 25
Tickets: $20 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 522-0333, www.slimspresents.com