By Korina Lopez/Gannett News Service
At age 8, Charli XCX (short for “Kiss Charli Kiss”) would gather her friends to play Spice Girls. She was cast as Scary Spice but wanted to be Baby Spice. “Even though I’m not blond, we just have a connection,” she says.
CHARLI XCX WITH ELLIPHANT AND FEMME When: 7 p.m. Monday Where: Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Tickets: Sold out
Now 22, she has become her own fashion statement, storming the stage in sky-high Buffalo Boots and teased-even-higher hair. With her brash brand of pop and in-your-face lyrics, she describes her sound as “pop with a punk energy. It’s emotional and intelligent pop music.”
A song she wrote that you might have heard, Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” went nuclear after it was featured last year in Lena Dunham’s cocaine-fueled nightclub scene on HBO’s “Girls.” Charli co-wrote Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” which spent seven weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 this year. Her first solo hit, “Boom Clap,” from the “Fault in Our Stars” soundtrack, went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs radio airplay chart.
Born Charlotte Emma Aitchison, Charli grew up in a small town outside London. She showed early promise and persuaded her parents to finance her first album when she was 14 and drive her to her gigs at East London raves. They were cool like that.
“Those raves were so wild and loud, I had no idea what was going on, but that’s how I started really doing anything when I performed,” she says. “One of my first gigs was in an old peanut factory. I’d yell ‘Dinosaur Sex!’ [one of her early songs] while standing on a crate.”
She grew so accustomed to seeing revelers dress up as anything that she’s fearless onstage, too. “Being sexy doesn’t degrade me as a musician. I don’t think that if a woman wears skimpy clothes, she’s any less of an artist. What’s important is that she dresses that way because it’s her choice.”
When she plays Lincoln Hall on Monday, Charli, who is half Scottish and half Pakistani, promises fans a no-holds-barred good time. “I just want to give them an hour of sweating and totally losing their minds, no matter what’s going on that day or what you’re worried about.”