Charli XCX Talks 'After the Afterparty' & Next Era: 'I Just Wanted to Make a Party Record'
The pop singer-songwriter discusses her new single, sliding into Lil Yachty’s DMs & why she’s over her last album.
Since the December 2014 release of her sophomore album Sucker, Charli XCX has stayed busy: She released her Vroom Vroom EP last February, hired PC Music’s A.G. Cook as her new creative director and wrote and recorded her third full-length. She also partied -- a lot.
“I just wanted to make a party record, and it feels like I finally unleashed my full inner-partier,” the 24-year-old singer-songwriter tells Billboard, adding that she’s had “a lot of great party moments” over the past few months. "After some PC Music show, we hired two limousines and were partying at 4 a.m. And then we were going back to my house, and then someone from PC Music was vomiting on my wall at my house in L.A. -- which is great, but not so funny the day after.”
Projectile vomit is not a topic of conversation on “After the Afterparty,” Charli XCX’s new single that was released Friday, but her wild times will certainly be chronicled on her 2017 album. The electro-pop banger, featuring Lil Yachty, came together during her final writing session for the new LP last summer and snagged its guest star after the U.K. native reached out to the Atlanta rapper on Twitter.
"I had gotten really into Lil Yachty and wanted him to be on the song and dreamed up this scenario where I would tweet him and he would tweet back, which actually happened!" Charli exclaims. "I DMed him -- I was like, 'Hey, I really love your stuff. Do you want to be on my song?' He was like, 'Yeah, cool! I really love your last album!' Which is weird, because I’m going through a phase of really hating my previous album at the moment, so I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool that he likes it.’"
Sucker, which included the breakout hit “Boom Clap,” contained a punk attitude and power-pop sound partially crafted by Patrik Berger, Ariel Rechtshaid and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo. Its forthcoming follow-up -- created by Charli, Norwegian pop producers Stargate, U.S. producer-songwriter Bloodpop and Scottish electronic guru SOPHIE -- will act as a palette-cleanser to the guitar arrangements and promises to contain a much higher BPM.
"Most of the songs on the album are about partying or about falling in love with someone after partying,” Charli says. "I’m still constantly going through different phases as an artist, and I’ve never made a ‘club’ album, or a record you could play in a club and dance to. I came from warehouse parties when I was 16, so I always wanted to make an album like that."
After guesting on top 10 hits by Icona Pop (“I Love It”) and Iggy Azalea (“Fancy”), along with her own top 10 hit “Boom Clap,” how much does Charli care about the chart performance of “After the Afterparty”? “Some weeks I really care about it, and other weeks I don’t care at all,” she says. "But one thing I definitely was thinking about a lot throughout making this record was less about the singles and more about making a really cohesive album. Even though True Romance and Sucker are things that I’m proud of, they were all done in quite quick amounts of time, with a lot of people by the end of it and some parts over email. With this album, it was really just me, SOPHIE, Bloodpop and Stargate in a studio together, and that was something I definitely wanted to do.”
Also crossed off the bucket list: having her friend Diane Martel helm one of her music videos, as the famous director (Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) took on what Charli calls the “big pink zombie moment” of the “After the Afterparty” clip, which was released Monday (Oct. 31).
"Who are the people who party the most, who never die from too much partying? Zombies!” she exclaims. "We basically made a zombie video, and then some genius at the label was like, 'You should put it out on Halloween!’ It really was perfect."