Charli XCX on Why Sometimes the Best Songs Are Written in 30 Minutes

From her breakout hits like I Love It and Boom Clap to her newer albums like How I'm Feeling Now and Crash, Charli XCX has always been at the cutting edge of pop and electronic music.

Charli XCX has been a pop icon for over a decade. From her breakout hits like I Love It and Boom Clap to her newer albums like How I’m Feeling Now and Crash, Charli XCX has always been at the cutting edge of pop and electronic music. Along the way, her music has underscored some of the most iconic TV shows and films of our era, from GIRLS in the 2010s to Bottoms and Barbie in 2023. And through it all, she just wants her music to help people have fun.
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Now, Charli has a new album, Brat out June 7. and in this conversation, we dove into her love/hate relationship with ’90s pop, how TikTok has changed the music industry, and why sometimes the best songs are written in 30 minutes or less.

Tune in every Thursday, and join us as we continue to explore the minds that shape our world. You can listen to the full episode above, and below are a handful of excerpts from our conversation that have been condensed and edited for clarity. Brat comes out June 7.

On the music she listened to growing up:

When I was growing up, I was definitely on a diet of the Spice Girls and Britney, and then a lot of kind of UK pop music that I am not sure whether it made it over here, like, Steps, and Hearsay, and S Club 7. I was a real top ten pop girl. I was in their fan club, which was awesome. But yeah, so that was kind of what I was about. And it’s interesting—now I listen back to some of that music and I actually really find it very difficult to listen to the music because I actually don’t find it audibly pleasing. The production choices for a lot of those songs are so indicative of the time—things that I would really not gravitate towards at all now, like very organic sounds put through an extremely classic pop template, live piano, bongos. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, there was a lot of production choices that I wouldn’t necessarily make.’ But I think when I was growing up, it wasn’t really the music actually that made me gravitate towards those artists. It was sort of about the fantasy. And with the Spice Girls it was about the camaraderie between five women. With Britney—she’s an anomaly in this statement, I love a lot of her music from back then still now—but with Britney it was about this kind of teen dream American fantasy girl next door. She was the polar opposite of who I was. So there was a level of escapism through watching her blossom.

On the process of writing her hit track “I Love It”

I was in Sweden on a writing trip and I’d not been there before and I was working with this guy Patrick Berger, who I’d never met before. But I was a little bit socially anxious. I didn’t really wanna go and meet him. I guess on that day, I was just feeling a little bit apprehensive, so I said to him, ‘Hey, can you send me some beats and I will work on them in my hotel room, and maybe then the next day I’ll come in and we can go through what I’ve done?’ So he sent me two tracks. One was a very early demo of “I Love It,” just the track, which sounded completely different. It was actually very ABBA-feeling. And then another track that I can’t remember at all. And I basically spent half an hour on “I Love It,” and I was like, ‘This is bad.’ And so then I spent probably like five hours on the other track and then I went the next day to the studio with Patrick and he was like, ‘Oh my God, this one song that you sent is incredible.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, the one I spent ages on, right?’ And he was like, ‘No – “I Love It.”’ So that’s how it came about.

On how the internet and fandom interact with her creative process

It’s interesting because I definitely make my music in a vacuum. I don’t really look for feedback, within the fanbase. And I don’t really pay attention to the outside noise of the fans whilst I’m creating. The internet is extremely important to me and my fanbase, and we grew up on it together, and have witnessed the world change via the internet together, and also the way in which we engage with culture, music, and specifically pop stars. So for me the internet and stan culture is really important because I’m more actually interested in the way that the internet digests pop music than actually pop music itself. I’m interested in looking at it through that lens. For me, it’s never just about the music, it’s about the entire world that the artist exists in. It’s about the way that they build their dialogue, the way that they build their language and music as a part of that, but also the persona. And I don’t think that in this day and age you can really have a persona without at least a little bit of thinking about how the internet interacts with that. Even if you’ve decided to not be on the internet, that’s still a choice that affects the way that people discuss you or view you on the internet. And so it’s all really important. It’s all super interlinked to me. Even though I create my music kind of off the grid.

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