Interview: Charli XCX on ‘Sucker,’ Working with Weezer and Chilling at the White House

“I decided to name my album Sucker for a few reasons.”

Charli XCX is speaking with us about the direct and somewhat charged title of her second major label full-length, which is slated for release Dec. 16. She’s an entirely pleasant interview, but when it comes to the meaning behind her album title, she’s got opinions.

“I think firstly, the name is like a ‘told you so’ to all the people who doubted me and thought I was a bad songwriter,” she says. “It’s also my cynical view on some of the people in the music industry and how they’re so weird and caught up in such bizarre, tiny things. I guess it’s also a comment on me, because even though I feel like I’m critiquing the pop circus, I’m also very aware that I’m part of that now.”

She smiles. “So, three meanings, one title.”

XCX’s ascension up the pop ranks came fast and furiously over the the couple of years, with her career kicking into overdrive after she wrote Icona Pop‘s 2012 hit single, “I Love It,” followed by her 2013 major label debut, True Romance, capped off when she helped pen Iggy Azalea‘s breakout track (and 2014’s song of the summer), “Fancy.”

Her upward trajectory propelled XCX’s own single, “Boom Clap,” to the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, cementing her as a solo star and causing Sucker‘s release to be pushed back from its original fall date to December.

With the imminent arrival of the album looming, Radio.com sat down with Charli XCX to discuss how it came to be, her collaborations with the likes of Weezer‘s Rivers Cuomo and Vampire Weekend‘s Rostam Batmanglij, and the time she was invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama.

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Radio.com: Listening to Sucker, I was immediately struck by the track “Need Your Love.” It really stands out on the album.

Charli XCX: When I first began making this record, I was really inspired by a lot of yé-yé pop, which is like ’60s French girls. So like Sylvie Vartan, Brigitte Bardot, France Gall, people like that. I really like the kind of shout-y, childlike vocals that they did. When I first started speaking to Rostam [Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend], those were the references that I gave him. We took a trip to Sweden together to work in this strange, empty hotel, which was kind of like The Shining. That’s where we wrote “Need Your Love.”

 How was it working with Rivers Cuomo on the song “Hanging Around”?

I was really surprised when he wanted to work with me. He followed me on Twitter, and I was like, “Cool, maybe this can happen!” We got in touch, and I went over to his house and we wrote two songs together in his studio in his backyard. It was so interesting working with him just because we’re from such different worlds, but he has such an interest in pop music. In particular, the formulas in pop music. That’s actually something I have no interest in at all, but it was really interesting working with someone who is so into that. 

 A recent Billboard cover story mentioned that you were working with Gwen Stefani. How was that experience?

Um, I’m not sure that I can officially…yeah, I’m not good at lying. I don’t know what to say about that. But if I did happen to write a song with Gwen Stefani, I’d be very excited about it, because she’s sick.

 

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