Category: Interviews

Johnny Beauford Talks “A Pig Eating Past Love” and the Budding Dallas Music Scene

johnnybeauford

You know as Texans, we all have these things in our minds called Texas stereotypes. Whether it’s the stereotype that San Antonio is just this culturally-undiverse melting pot of Tex Mex, or that Houston is this huge oil rig of universal languages and cultures, I think the city with the strongest reputation is Austin. We usually think of Austin as the land of the hipsters, the music capitol of not even Texas, but of the whole world. There’s Austin, and then there’s Dallas, known for its suburban honky-tonk glitz and glamour – almost the opposite of what Austin is, right? That’s the stereotype, but Fort Worth-based singer-songwriter Johnny Beauford seems to be helping shift the Dallas music scene’s rep just a little on his own, proving that the city is not just big hair and expensive churches. It may be right on Austin’s tail.

Johnny just released his sophomore EP titled A Pig Eating Past Love and has been praised for his subtly gorgeous songwriting and melodic guitar strumming, which altogether combine Americana, folk, and blues to create storytelling masterpieces. We recently caught up with Johnny after his show at Rudyard’s Pub in Houston on January 23rd to talk A Pig Eating Past Love as well as his many musical projects, and more.

You’re active in lots of different projects including Deadmoon Choir, The Jack Kerowax, and Bravo, Max! Could you tell us more about these projects?

Yes, I’d be happy to. I guess I should go in alphabetical order:

Bravo, Max! is my old hold steady. I started that band originally with my cousin Ben and my brother Daniel. Since then, we have seen a number of players come and go. Over a matter of years in developing, Bravo, Max! has gone from folk, to indie-rock, to Americana with a focus on accordion, to our current state which is in my opinion a kind of a power trio of blues infused rock n roll. Thus far, Bravo has released an EP, a full length, and 3 single’s, and we are currently working on a sophomore LP.

Deadmoon Choir is a project led and founded by Garrett Padgett and Vinny Martinez. The sound is strongly influenced by the pairs love of vintage rock and vintage country. Vinny is the lead vocalist and channels Jim Morrison at times and M. Ward at other times. Garrett is the guitarist and loves The Kinks and more psychedelia like Pond and The Byrds. I play bass full time with Deadmoon, and really love how racaus and aggressive the band has become. There are definite plans to record a debut LP in the near future, and there are 12+ new songs already fully formed and ready to lay down.
The Jack Kerowax are a project that came about very organically. I was writing songs for a full length solo record and was looking for some players. I was introduced to Garrett Padgett (from Deadmoon Choir) outside of Crown & Harp at a Bravo, Max! show one night sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. We started meeting for rehearsal and writing sessions, and he joined me at a residency I had weekly at The Free Man. Some months later Nathan Adamson walked up and asked if we needed a drummer, we did, and he is a tried and true and very active player from a number of local acts including the soulful country gentlemen called The Hazardous Dukes. After one rehearsal we gladly continued playing with him and he joined the residency gigs as well. He is a fantastic drummer, and a talent in the studio on every level. After some search and discovery we later landed a bass player, Chase McMillan, who also plays in the killer Dallas band Goodnight Ned. We decided to work with Jonathan Jackson on production and soon there after started writing collaboratively and went right into recording an album at the all analog music paradise, Ferralog Studios. Over a 6 month period we did 12 tracking sessions and 7 more sessions for mixing. The album and band turned into something much bigger than I initially envisioned, and went from Johnny Beauford & The Jack Kerowax to The Jack Kerowax. We are now in preparation to release the record, and will surely do some touring to promote it as it will be a very formal and involved release process.

What’s your favorite part of being from the Dallas music scene, and how has it influenced you?

Dallas is turning into a musical monster, and I couldn’t be happier to be around all the creative inspiration that is floating around throughout Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton right now. There are a huge number of bands I am proud to share a hometown with. They range from bands as big as St. Vincent & Toadies to up and comers that are equally as talented like The Birds Of Night and Oil Boom. Great music is being conceived and created here every day.

Could you tell us a bit about the “A Pig Eating Past Love” music video? Where was it shot?

It was shot in South Korea and is the work of Stuart Howe, an awesome film maker who is based there. I was able to bid on the video through an interesting site called Genero.Tv, and after a brief period of introduction I landed the video for the album’s title track, and Stuart then customized the video to my track in post production. I love how it came out, and I was the one who personally chose the video and worked with Stuart to see the process through to completion. I was so pleased with it that I have already re-hired him for a track from another upcoming release of the Kerowax record.

How did your show in Houston go? Did you get to see the city any?

We played at Rudyard’s Pub and had a great time. We learned some history about the venue through Joe, their longtime sound and lights man who told us he had been there since 1997. Apparently they have hosted a countless number of enormous bands like Destiny’s Child, Black Keys, White Stripes, Greenhornes, Spoon, and my personal favorite that Joe chose to mention, Fastball. Holy shit! Ha! Ivan, do you remember Fastball?! We met a few other nice Houston folks, and hung out with our friend Jeff Bradley, a brilliant photographer who is a grad student at the University of Houston. Oh he sat in on our set too, he is a well versed blues harmonica player as well.

Your new EP, A Pig Eating Past Love, was just released. What are you trying to achieve with this EP, and how do you think it has grown in comparison to your first EP?

I am touring the record with a full band, specifically Garrett and JJ from Bravo, Max! The live show is really energetic, and we’ve had fun working the new tunes up for live interpretation. The goal is the same as any release really, simply to do some promotions and get people to have a listen through. I also hope to draw attention to the Texas scene as a whole, and obviously all the projects I am a part of.

What would you say the most prominent themes and messages are on this EP?

Hmm. Well take the line that inspired the title, Don’t go wallow in old mud like a pig eating past love. I know thematically there all kinds of varying references within the lyrics on the album, but the main one, if I had to pick one, would be summed up in that line. Basically, the message for me being to keep my eyes on the future and keep moving forward as well enjoying the present. Fuck the past, if it is in fact a burden or a nostalgic idol. In those cases, there is no need to do anything with it except learn from it. The past is a wonderful thing to study and is a part of us all, but it is not immediately applicable to today or tomorrow except as a concious reference or a sub-conscious inspiration. To clarify, my past has been good and bad like any person and I love it and loathe parts of it like any person might, but I make a true effort to avoid dwelling on it for any extended period whether good or bad, as it is largely a waste of energy for any of us to rest on our laurels or to carry mass amounts of baggage along emotionally. That is the great thing about creative art, it is therapy and celebration simultaneously and if it’s worth anything at all, it is always moving forward.

Could you tell us a bit about St Cait records? Is it your record label?

I co founded St. Cait with my good friend Dave Turner, and I help run the company. It is an on going evolution as we are learning and growing daily. The way I look at the company is as a channel for organization and the polishing of all the bands and releases for our roster. We do have plans to add a few acts over the next few years but it will always be a somewhat small collective of like minded artists.

How would you describe your style of music and what type of audience it should generally appeal to. I have to say, your songs are, simply put, pretty.

Well thanks for saying, Ivan. I would describe my songwriting approach as instinctual. I love melody and I think music is an innate quality that we all share. To be more specific though, I love 50’s and 60’s soul singers, folk singers, and rock n rollers. We are all redoing a redo but hopefully infusing it with something modern and forward thinking. I hope it appeals to folks that love Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, and Thirteenth Floor Elevators although it doesn’t directly have the smallest resemblance to any of the above.

What should we expect from Johnny Beauford in the near future?

Thank you for asking. In short, I’d just say more recording and releases with lots of diverse results hopefully. Certainly, this will also come with more touring on a month to month basis. I am planning on a follow up Houston date in May. Please do keep an eye out for it.

Watch the video for “A Pig Eating Past Love” below, and make sure to buy the EP on iTunes.

 

The Houston Blues: An Interview with The Beans

Within the year following the release of their self-titled debut album, hometown rockers The Beans have quite apparently taken over the Houston music scene. It’s Brendan Hall (drums), Sam Griffin (vocals), Christian Galatoire (guitar), and Daniel Taylor’s (bass) raw, gritty rock and roll, modern-day psychedelic sound that has made its mark on listeners and propelled the band to playing on the same stages as Alabama Shakes, Japandroids, and Passion Pit.

Along with Austin-based band The Couch and The Docs who hail from Bryan, Texas, The Beans will be “melting faces” and “shaking asses” this Friday, January 17th at their highly-anticipated show at Fitzgeralds upstairs. See what The Beans had to say about the big show, as well as the Houston music scene, below, and make sure to get your tickets for this Friday. Doors are at 8.

What has been a major change you have seen since the release of your debut album, ‘The Beans’, in January 2013?

I think the material on ‘The Beans’ really lends itself to an album format because they are songs that people seem to appreciate the more that they hear them.  I feel that things have continuously escalated from there because the more people appreciate and like your music the more they share it, which leads to playing bigger shows, which leads to more people being exposed to your music, which leads to playing more shows outside of Houston, which leads to getting asked to play Free Press Summerfest and New Years Eve, which leads to more exposure, etc.  Also, the release of our first album gave us great drive and focus on what are goals are as musicians.  It also, strangely, spurred us to try and improve and begin writing and performing new material. We probably have enough material for a second album and we plan to begin that process very shortly.

Your music has been revered for its raw, psychedelic, throwback grittiness. Who has been your sole influences while writing and recording your music?

Revered? That’s a lovely sentiment. The band’s influences are wide, varied, and forever evolving. I think that although we may have been unaware of it at the time realism is the strongest influence on the album.  It is something we are more aware of now writing songs for the second album that what we like best and what people can connect with most are honest emotions plainly put and honestly plaid.  That is the pinnacle of what we strive for.  I also think being barflies has had a large impact on our music, the more that we have played outside of Houston the more I have realized that the average person who frequents any dive anywhere at almost any age will probably dig at least a couple of our songs and that is a really good feeling.  I think as we grow more confident as a band we are doing more to establish ourselves apart from our influences, but you can definitely hear some of Junior Kimbrough, Townes Van Zandt, Lightin’ Hopkins, Charles Mingus, and Wilco in our music.

The Beans perform “What You’ve Always Wanted” at Fitzgeralds

Listening to your album, ‘The Beans’, it sometimes sounds like the songs are live recordings of a pure, passionate jam session. What is the recording process like for you guys? Is it this natural and authentic? 

Personally I think the album is more of a simulated rawness, but we decidedly wanted it to have a live and natural sound and it is flattering to hear that it sounds pure.  Honestly, I don’t think we were all at Sugarhill at the same time more than an hour or two while making the album which is remarkable because the whole process lasted about 9 months.  Brendan went in and recorded the drums to a click track by himself and we all built off of that individually.  There are light drum samples and percussion, some guitar doubling and overdubbing, and lots of organ that we can’t reproduce live, but the album is largely just how we play the songs and in that sense it is authentic.  There is no auto-tuning or playing the same lick over and over again until it is absolutely perfect, or anything like that.  The philosophy was more get your point across and move on.  Along with our producer, John Griffin, we tried to create the best possible natural tone, push ourselves for the most passionate performances and tried not worry about our mistakes because they add to the frenzy of the album.  Basically, recording is really fucking hard.

In what ways has being from Houston impacted the band’s dynamic, or your music, and why do you think it’s important to stay true to your roots? 

I think Townes Van Zandt said it best, “If you can’t catch the blues in Houston, man, you can’t catch them anywhere.”  Houston is all about the blues and the blues is at the core of every note that we play.  I think that growing up listening to local and regional artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and others has shaped our ideals of raw, poetic, and real songs, real recordings, of unadulterated passion and spurts of humor.  If you add to that base, some psychedelia, and growing up in our modern era you essentially have the Beans.  We are not purists, but we love and respect the tradition that we come from and we could not stray too far from it without drastically changing ourselves.

What other local artists have you guys been into lately? 

We will always and forever support the funk odyssey that is The Journey Agents.  We have jammed a lot with Nathan Quick and are excited to hear the release that he is working on.  Also, Daniel has played with Alycia Miles in the past and really enjoys her music as well as everyone else from the Renaissance Suite.  We haven’t had a chance to go to a show yet, but we were recently introduced to Mad Maude and the Hatters and from what we have heard we love their vocal harmonies – if we had 1/3 of their harmony talent we would be a much better band.

What can we expect from your show at Fitzgeralds on the 17th with The Docs and The Couch? 

Hours of really good modern blues based rock.  A raw and unfiltered exposure of ourselves. You can expect a sweaty and sultry journey from stage to audience and back again.  We want to melt your face and shake your ass.

 

Better than Ezra Interview

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from indiehouston

Better Than Ezra has a long history of playing in Houston. What is it about the city that keeps you coming back?

Houston is one of the very first large cities that was into BTE.  We would play there about once a month when the band was first branching out from Louisiana, before we had any sort or record deal or agent.  Houston has always been one of our top markets for selling albums, and I believe was even number one for a while, so the people are definitely what keep us coming back.

 
You’ve been in the music industry for over 20 years. What’s changed the most from when you first started out?

Quite a lot has changed in the music biz over the last 20 years, but certainly I think the most significant change is digital music.  There are positives and negatives to that and I think you can make a valid argument either way as to whether it’s helped or hurt the music business. But one thing I do know is that people still want to go to a show and be entertained.  Having a fun live show is most definitely a key ingredient to having a long career.

You are changing it up this year with a Casino Night Benefit BEFORE the actual show. Tell us about that.

We are indeed.  We have had so much success with our efforts in New Orleans through our foundation, that is just seems logical to try something like this where the venues and partnerships make sense.  Both the Houston and Dallas House of Blues venues have been favorites to our fans and the band alike, so it just made it easy to try and expand the good things we are doing in South Louisiana to our close Texas neighbors.  We’ll be hosting a Casino night with real blackjack, roulette, craps and poker dealers and tables with “play money.” Proceeds not only benefit the Better Than Ezra Foundation but also a local charity in each city. All food and drinks are included in the price, and you will get a special power acoustic performance from the band before the real show in the Main room.

What is the latest Better Than Ezra Foundation project you are working on? What will the proceeds go towards?

We’ve donated to various causes in the past (full list at www.BTEFoundation.org) but our latest project have been with Bethune Elementary School in New Orleans.  We are currently building an Audio Visual system for their assembly room, and this fall we will start a much needed after school program.  We are learning all about “Red Tape” and what we have to do get things done, but are really excited about our efforts.

It’s cool that you are not only benefitting the Better Than Ezra Foundation but also a local Houston charity. What made you decide to expand to Houston?

We’ve seen the impact we have had on the New Orleans community so it was natural to test out the Houston market where we have not only incredible fans but supporters of the foundation. When researching non-profits in Houston, friends kept telling us about His Grace Foundation which provides physical, emotional, and financial support for the patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMTU) of Texas Children’s Hospital. After our experience helping children at Bethune Elementary and seeing how we helped make a difference, teaming up with His Grace Foundation was a natural next step as this would allow us to continue to help children but through another avenue.

 
Where can people purchase tickets to the Casino Night event?
If you already have tickets to the main HOB show, you can upgrade your ticket to include the Casino Night Benefit here –

http://tinyurl.com/ly2gr6v

If you would like to do a bundle package of the Casino Night Benefit + 1 GA ticket to the main show, you can purchase them here —
http://tinyurl.com/m8vb46m

For those who can not make it to the event, is there another way they can get involved?
We’ve set up a Pay Pal page for those who want to contribute but aren’t able to make the show.
I know there are a lot of Houston fans anxious for a new album. Can we expect another BTE album in the near future?

I’d say we are about half way done with a new album right now.  It’s being produced by Tony Hoffer (Phoenix, Beck, Fitz and the Tantrums)  are very excited about it is coming out and can’t wait for people to hear.  Should be out early next year.

Photo Credit: Rick Olivier
From L to R: Tom Drummond, Kevin Griffin and Michael Jerome
 
 
 

SXSW Interviews: Sirah

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By Ivan Guzman

On my first day of SXSW, I got to sit and talk with Sirah, a small little rapping fireball that hails from LA. Her debut album, C.U.L.T Too Young To Die, came out earlier in 2012, and her global collab with dubstep crooner, Skrillex, entitled ‘Bangarang’ won her a Grammy in 2013 for her collaborations on i

At the Moonshine Cafe, we met and went downstairs to escape the noise, to a silent and dark wine cellar – the perfect setting to talk with the rapper about her crazy performances at SXSW with people like Macklemore and Action Bronson, how growing up tough helps her in making her music, and the controversial but always entertaining female rap scene.

How is SXSW so far? Is it your first time here?

-Yes! It’s amazing. I haven’t gotten to see as many people as I wanted to see, but I’ve seen people from the shows I played – Icona Pop, Charli XCX, Macklemore, Action Bronson, Rocky Fresh. I tried to go out last night because one of my favorite bands, Y, are playing, but they were doing a show in the back room where there was Ghostface, Killa, and Iggy Pop, so there was no way to get in.

I heard you played with Macklemore and Action Bronson. How was that?

-Awesome. Action Bronson killed it. At one point I look over, and he picked up a dude that was in a wheelchair and had him draped over his back while he rapped, and I was like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

So, you collaborated with Skrillex on ‘Bangarang’ and won a Grammy. How did that come about?

-6 years ago, I was on tour in Romania, and I got mail on Myspace from Sunni (Skrillex). He was doing this ambient, melodic music as a side project, and he told me that he loved my music and wanted to work with me, so that’s how that came about. With ‘Bangarang,’ he hit me up and asked me to send him 16 bars with a sort of ‘Lost Boys’ feeling – because I grew up like that. Our crew had that sort of ‘Lost Boys’ feel to it.

Did you attend the Grammys?

-Yeah! It was really odd. You watch it on TV your whole life and then you’re there, and it’s surreal.

Your video for ‘My City’ came out in February, and the song has to do with your childhood and growing up. How does that influence your music?

-I think that’s really all my music is – growing up and how I came to this place. But I grew up really hard, whether it was doing graffiti, being in gangs, whatever. I think that not only my music, but my life – being homeless and all – creates my music. I grew up in New York and then moved to LA and basically finished out there. I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, and when I was 12, I started just rapping, smoking blunts with boys, freestyling. I never thought that I could make music. I just did it because I loved to. Then at about 17, I started rapping in South Central at this place called Project Blow, and they really taught me how to actually rap. They boo you off stage, the Black Panthers tried to recruit me – it was mad weird.

Who did you grow up listening to?

-Well, my first show was The Beach Boys, even though they were all kind of dead – it was like the Beach Men. But also Joni Mitchell, Alanis Morissette, Big Pun, Biggy, Eminem – I just love music from everywhere, anywhere.

Dream collaboration?

-That’s really hard. I mean, I love Joni Mitchell so much, but I would never want to work with her. There’s people I love so much that I would never want to collaborate with them, as a fan. They’re just so magical that it would ruin my perception about them. Anytime I really love someone I would never really want to go see their show. I’m more of the person that is inspired by musicians who just have a creative vision, no matter who they are. That’s exciting to me.

What would you say the most common theme is on C.U.L.T. Too Young To Die?

-I think I’m just angry! Haha. I listen to it and think, “I sound so angry!” There were a lot of reasons why I named it C.U.L.T, but I think it was just me being tired of the internet being so grimey and people not taking time to understand who you are – all the misconceptions that I was reading, saying “You’re a hipster,” or “You’ve never rapped in your life!” I was just mad. To quote Dr. Dre, “If you don’t like me, blow me.” So that was what C.U.L.T was for me – how they have no idea what they’re talking about.

How much does the internet play a role in what you do?

-Now it doesn’t. I don’t read anything. It does happen where I’ll read something and be like, “What?!” After C.U.L.T came about, I just had a lot to say about all these misconceptions bothering me, but it doesn’t have any affect now. When people get really wild on the internet, I just kind of bug them out more like, “You need a hug. What’s up, are you okay?” I don’t even really use it to promote my music. I’m not that type. When people like my music, I’m still just kind of surprised. I think it’s an awesome tool for artists nowadays to even have that option, but I also think it’s a matter of just letting people get to know you – not promoting yourself.

What’s your favorite part about the music-making process?

-My favorite part is after spending days and days making something, the moment when you take it home from the studio and you’re in your room when you just know that you’ve created something that will last forever. That’s the thing about music. At some point, we’re all gonna die, but whatever it is your create, it’s going to outlive everything. In 5o years when nobody gives a shit, some kid is going to find it, and it’s going to mean something to them. Or sample it! I could pay my future kids.

A lot of female rappers are starting to pop up – Azealia, Iggy, Angel Haze – how do you feel about the upcoming female rap scene?

-I just actually saw Angel Haze perform at the Grammy pre-party, and she was really dope. She has an Aliyah vibe to her, while is so cool. Both Azealia and her have that vibe, which is maybe why they fight. I heard just the other day about Azealia getting in a beef with Brooke Candy, and it’s like, I wish us girl rappers wouldn’t have to fight so much. There’s only like 8 of us! I’m not all about that “let’s stick together” shit, but I’m also like, “why do we have to fight so much?” There’s so much to fight against when you get to the platform we have, and it’s just so hard to do this. Any girl that has come up, I would give mad respect to. But I think Azealia Banks is dope. I like her music. I guess hip hop has always been about beef, but I’m just not about that life anymore.

Since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists that we can listen to?

-Oh! My favorite band, Why? I’ve always loved them. I don’t know if The Limousines are still unsigned, but I love them. They have this song ‘Internet Killed The Video Star.’ [starts singing]. I listen to a lot of indie music. I’m really on this rapper right now, who is actually upstairs – Jinx the Flyer. He’s from Connecticutt. He’s produced for so many big rappers. I even feel like there’s this weird folk and R&B resurgence happening right now, and I love it. I’ll hit up my fans and ask, “What are you listening to right now?” Because I just love new music in general. It’s exciting.

Watch Sirah’s video for ‘My City’ below.

 

 

SXSW Interviews: Charli XCX

By Ivan Guzman

Charli XCX and I took a seat out in the glistening sun at 10 AM on my second day of the adventure that was SXSW. The dark bubble-goth pop diva was dressed in some, I would say, 7-inch, black platform boots with a green plaid, high-waisted school girl-like skirt and dog collar choker – a 90’s, soft grunge style that is always apparent in what she does.

Her debut album, True Romance, was released a few weeks ago, and many have been inclined to stick her in with the new batch of young, underground pop girls that have been recently spotlighted. She DID appear on the cover of V Magazine with Sky Ferreira and Grimes, after all. But I think XCX is making a way for her own material to prevail, even more so after being able to gain some insight about her – face to face.

Read what Charli had to say about how, and IF, she can categorize her sound, being featured in a horror movie, and her surprisingly long road getting to where she is in her current career.

How is SXSW so far?

-Crazy, stressful, manic – but amazing. Just wild. I love the craziness of the shows, and how many shows you get to play in a short period of time. The craziness of the shows. Everything.

You are featured on and wrote the song , ‘I Love It’ for Icona Pop. How did this collaboration come about and how does it feel now that it’s such a big hit?

-Well, to be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I know it’s doing well, but since I’m still kind of distant from it and am just watching it grow and do its thing, it’s really strange for me. It’s amazing, though.

What had happened is that I went to Sweden about a year ago to work with this guy, Patrick Berger, and he sent me some tracks when I landed and was like, “Yeah, have a listen. I’ll see you tomorrow,” – that kind of thing. He sent me one which I wrote my song, ‘You’re The One’ over and one which I wrote ‘I Love It’ over, and I wrote both of them in about an hour in my hotel room, went to the session the next day, and he was really impressed. From the beginning, I knew that it wasn’t right for me, so when Icona Pop came down and heard it, they really wanted to fuck with it, and I said, “Sure! Do it.” And they did.

What can we expect from your debut, “True Romance”?

-You can expect emotional brooding, but still light-hearted pop music at times. It’s all love songs on the records – the album is about love and is dedicated to romance. I wrote it while growing up, so it’s kind of like a coming of age record for me. I guess I have changed my views on love and life while writing the record, so it’s all of my different view points on that. It’s a pop album with pop perks, but it’s done my way.

You call your music “pop,” however, you have toured with Coldplay and Santigold, who are kind of unrelated in a sense. Would you say you have a distinct sound?

-I think I do! When you hear the record, it will all come together for them. Since I’ve done so many mixtapes, EP’s, features, etc., I feel like some people may only have a random dubstep track I was featured on ages ago or something, so if they don’t have all the pieces, this album puts everything together. I like to call it “purple pop” music – it’s dreamy, dark, floaty, and emotional, but the songs are still structured pop songs.

So do you think you have a distinct audience for your music as well?

-I don’t know, actually. I personally don’t care who the audience is – if they like it, they like it, and I love that they like it. I don’t just want to play to hipsters, because hipsters are boring. I want to just let go and be free – performing for whoever.

You started at 14, writing songs and playing shows, but what do you think was that first specific moment that got everything started and sparked your interest in music?

-I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I suppose I just started putting songs online, and people started noticing, so I realized that, “Oh, I guess I might as well just keep going.” I was never a stage school brat with pushy parents – it was never some Macaulay Culkin shit or something like that. I’ve just always loved music and playing the piano when I was younger.

Are you a trained pianist?

-I am. I did my grade seven, but I can’t read music, so it’s pointless.

You came up with the name Charli XCX when you were 14 as well. Where did the idea come from?

-It really was just a scrambling mess. I met this guy Chaz who was running raves and parties in East London, and he asked me if I wanted to play a rave. I was like, “Wow! A rave! That sounds so cool. Yes!” He asked me what I wanted him to put on the flier, and I didn’t have a name. I would always sign off on my MSN chat as “XCX,” which stands for “kiss charli kiss,” and I guess it just stuck.

It took you a relatively long amount of time to make it to where you are right now in the industry. Was that at all a struggle?

-No, not really, because I think that, even though I’ve been making music and was signed when I was 15, my label never pushed me. They just had me there. I wanted to finish school and everything, so they were never like, “Why aren’t you writing a hit?!” They were just like, “Yeah, let her do her thing.” Then one day, just about 2 and a half years ago, I wrote my song ‘Stay Away.’ That’s when it all fell into place. Then half a year later we released it, and that was just about one year ago. So I feel like I actually started a year and a half ago. Before that, I just had some coverage online, but I wasn’t really doing anything in those years. I was still growing as a person.

You’ve done a lot of writing for other people – I even read that you did a score for a horror movie. Do you feel more comfortable in the studio or on stage?

-Yes! It was actually THAT guy’s horror movie, Elfie Hopkins. *points to young, scruffy movie director Ryan Andrews sitting behind us.* To be honest, I love performing. I feel so free and alive when I perform, which sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I think both. That’s why I do it – because I love all aspects.

What are some current artists that you draw inspiration from for your music?

-When it comes to drawing inspiration for writing my own music, I look more at films, photographers, and magazine pop culture – things like that. Chris Cunningham’s music videos for Bjork, The Horrors, Portishead, the Marilyn Manson video for tainted love, David Lachapelle’s photography, Sophia Coppola. I kind of look down those lines to get an atmosphere generated in my head for my music and lyrics.

You’re touring with and are close friends with Marina and The Diamonds, who has gotten pretty big. How is it like touring with her?

-I know! Last night her song was on ‘Glee’, which is so good! It’s great. We’ve got to know each other over the Coldplay dates when she was also opening for them. It’s just fun – a girly, sleepover vibe all the time. We get on well, and it’s nice going on tour with someone who isn’t an asshole. You always hear horror stories of girls going on tour together and it being a nightmare, but that’s not the case with Marina. She’s great.

Since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists we can check out?

-I’ve just started getting really into Peace. I love them. I’m also freaking out right now over Kitty Pryde. I’m trying to see her show today. Sky Ferreira, of course. I’m a big fan of her EP. Also, IO Echo and Kitten, who is my girl. She’s the coolest.

Watch Charli’s new video for ‘What I Like’ below!

 

 

 

 

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