Vestal no.4 Pages116.jpg

Canadian-born singer and songwriter Allie X began her career as an indie pop artist in Toronto in the mid-2000s, playing with local bands and writing and recording a handful of self-released albums. Success as a solo artist did not come to Allie X overnight. Song writing was a diversion—and a necessary source of income.  Despite this, she didn’t stop working on her solo material. She has always been striving for the perfect tune and spent time perfecting her sound design and production. After relocating to Los Angeles she adopted the stage name Allie X and began working with producers Cirkut and Billboard. In early 2014, Allie X released her debut single titled “Catch”. Upon release fellow artist Katy Perry praised the track on Twitter calling it her “spring jam”. “Catch” also charted on the top Hot 100 charts. Her careering vocals, has attracted a devoted following on Instagram as well as Youtube. She describes her melodies as being “soaring pop, borderline theatrical Disney”, while her lyrics, “always seem to be darker.” She compares song writing to a science experiment in which you put two people’s brains together for a few hours and see what they can come up with.

This month in support of her latest album.........…, Allie is set to play a string of shows across Europe and North America. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Allie X in Soho at the Mercer Hotel to get to know the songstress a little better.

What got you involved in music?

I learned piano when I was a kid and then started playing drums when I was a teenager. I played drums in bands in high school and university, and I feel like I would always have played music in some form even if I hadn’t ended up being in a band that got signed. It’s such an integral part of my life and how I express myself and communicate and figure out feelings.

What are your musical icons / influences?

Between the three of us in the band, we have such a spread of influences but I feel like that’s why our music sounds the way it does. Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Eurythmics, Cyndi Lauper... I’ve been re-listening to a lot of Jeff Buckley recently and never get over how special his voice was. I’ve also been diving back into the Blonde Ambition / Truth Or Dare era of Madonna and thinking about how important and boundary pushing what she did was.

How long have you known each other in your band? How did you all meet?

I met Iain in 2011 when he was recording an EP for my old band. He and Martin had known each other since university, where they had both stud- ied music, and they had worked on a few different projects together and were just starting what would eventually become CHVRCHES. Iain asked me to come down and do some backing vocals on a couple of songs, and we felt like we really gelled and had the same vision for the music so we started all writing together. We put a song on Soundcloud in 2012 and everything kind of just exploded.

When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?

We formed the band in 2011 and got signed the following year. I knew of Iain and Martin from bands they had been in previously and really ad- mired their work so it was fun and exciting to then start writing together and seeing what we could make. They are such great song writers and producers and I have learned so much from them. I really feel like our music is a true mix of everyone’s talents and personality. If one element were removed, none of it would work


Could you briefly describe the music- making process?

Normally the guys will start messing around with a synth sound or a beat, and then we’ll work up a vocal melody at the same time. Once we have that rough structure in place, I go away and write lyrics. We made the first two albums ourselves so the writing process and recording process happen pretty much at the same time, and we just developed the songs over the course of time. It was really fun and interesting to open ourselves up and work with an external producer on the new record, but I think we needed to do those first two by ourselves so that we knew exactly what we wanted the band to be before we started working with anyone else.


What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?

We tour so much that rehearsals in a practice place aren’t really necessary after a while. 


How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?


How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

I think for anyone who reaches any level of success in art, it is always a challenge to stay authentic and true to what you really want to do when there is a whole world out there trying to tell you what to do and who to be. I have learned that everyone has an opinion, and they are most definitely entitled to it, but that shouldn’t change how or why we make music. The musicians I love the most are the ones who mean what they say, rather than the ones who have the most impressive and cynical marketing campaigns.


What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band?

Practice, practice, practice. Don’t play anyone any songs or do any shows until you feel ready and that it’s going to be the best it can be. I learned so much from playing in so many different bands but I also did a lot of musically growing up in front of people, and first impressions last.


What do you most enjoy about your job?

Getting to communicate and connect with other people in a really simple, honest way.

What are your best or proudest moments?

I am proud that we really are what we say we are. We write the songs, produce the albums, and we don’t sacrifice the things we believe in because we think it will make people like us better. In the world we live in right now, I think that is important.


Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?

Although my parents aren’t musicians, there was always a lot of music playing in our house so we would listen to a lot of Mamas and Papas, Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, Aretha Franklin and The Blue Nile. I was obsessed with Whitney Houston when I was a kid, and I think that led me to look at her influences and discover singers like Nina Sim- one, Billie Holiday and Etta James. I loved Alanis Morrisette too. I don’t like the idea that Jagged Little Pill is “old” now but that record had a real impact on me in terms of the music I wanted to write and sing, because I had never heard a woman write to honestly.


How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re in trouble. Someone said to me once that a live show doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be authentic, and I’ve held onto that. For me, when I go see bands, I love it when you get to see a little humanity and character. None of us have ever been seriously injured during a gig so we definitely all laugh when someone trips over a cable or tumbles off the back of a riser..