Allie X is one of the biggest LGBTQ allies in the music industry. The synth-pop maven just finished an opening stint for Hayley Kiyoko’s tour, has featured drag stars Violet Chachki and Biblegirl in her music videos and has co-writes on several of Troye SIvan’s songs — including his recent buzz track, “The Good Side.” This month, she’ll make her Pride circuit debut, performing at festivals in Washington, D.C. (June 8), and Los Angeles (June 10).
Ahead of her performances, the electropop mastermind has released “Focus,” one of her most straightforward love songs to date. Allie X talked to Billboard about the inspiration behind her “apocalyptic” new single and her deep connection with the LGBTQ community: “I try to be careful with my words because sometimes I almost say ‘our community,’ then I’m like, ‘no girl, you can’t say that. You haven’t endured the struggle of a queer person.’”
It’s Pride Month and you have been an outspoken advocate for the community from day one. What draws you to LGBTQ scene?
I wrote a love letter to the LGBTQ community for you guys last year — but It’s not a conscious thing I’ve ever thought about. All my closest friends have been gay boys. I’ve always felt this understanding and this appreciation from the LGBTQ community that I didn’t always feel…how do I put it? Like being in a public school or private school with straight classmates that were all dating each other and thinking each other were hot, I just never fit in. I was always the weird girl. I’ve always felt like an outsider.
In that aspect, I always related to the LGBTQ community, and now, all my friends are either artists or they’re gay. I try to be careful with my words because sometimes I almost say “our community,” then I’m like, “no, girl, you can’t say that. You haven’t endured the struggle of a queer person.” But I would absolutely call myself an ally, and in terms of what I care about and what I fight for, the LGBTQ+ community is at the very top of my priorities.
You’re performing at two Pride festivals this year — and they’re the same weekend!
I know! I gotta fly to D.C. then fly back to LA.
Have you performed at Prides before this year?
Oh my God, randomly I was in this performing group right out of college, and we danced and sang our way down Church Street in Toronto. Since then, I’ve never performed at a Pride festival, and I’ve been wanting to, so I’m so thrilled that it’s happening this year.
You have a new single, “Focus,” out now. What’s the inspiration behind it?
It’s a song about finding that person, or that thing, or that place within yourself where you can go to and it’s quiet and everything around you stops. All the chaos just comes to a halt and you sort of find that stillness. It’s one of the more direct songs I’ve written about my experience falling in love. I painted a very apocalyptic scene in the lyrics, and that’s just kinda what I pictured, just very stormy, purple sky and just being sort of on the rounds. It’s how I feel a lot of the time when I’m in LA. The pace that you move at and the sort of ego blows that you take, you’re sort of just being tossed around, and it’s about that moment when you look at that other person’s eyes and none of that even matters anymore. You just have a connection and understanding with someone that brings you peace.
So you’ll obviously be playing “Focus” at your Pride sets, but what other songs should people just discovering you check out to get a sense of your music?
I always feel flattered when someone tells me their favorite song is “Bitch.” That’s probably one of the favorite ones I’ve written. If it’s a Pride thing and you’re kinda looking for the bop where you can really get down, “Casanova” seems to be a favorite — and “Prime.” Those two really go off live, I noticed.
“Bitch” is kind of a divisive song. I remember I played it for [Leland] the first time right when I had it mixed in 2014, and you should have seen the look on his face. He didn’t know what he was listening to. There was another producer in the room and they were both so confused. Then it came out, and the video came out, and then both of them came to me later and were like, “This song is genius!”
You and Leland both worked on Troye SIvan’s upcoming album. What was that experience like?
I wrote “The Good Side”; that came out this year. And I did have a bunch of songs on the record as well. The last album, Blue Neighbourhood, was a lot about coming of age. He’s very young, and he’s really discovering so much in such a quick amount of time. With the first album, there were a lot of struggles with sort of growing up, then this album he’s more in a grown-up place, and I think it’s really about being in a mature relationship for the first time and all the feelings that come with that.
“Good Side” was about, I’d say it’s kinda about coming to terms and almost an apology — I don’t wanna speak for Troye — with an older relationship. You always hear songs about having your heart broken and working through heartbreak, but you actually don’t hear too many songs from the perspective of the person who got out of the relationship more easily. Oftentimes it’s easier for one person. So, it’s a unique perspective and I think we were really sensitive about the lyrics and what we said. The reference we were listening to that day in the studio was a Smiths song. Troye had just gotten into The Smiths when we wrote that.
That’s awesome. So what’s next for you?
Oh honey, you just wait and see, I’ve got a whole year planned.