Charli XCX is halfway through summer festival season, performing at Coachella in Los Angeles, Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Glastonbury in England, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, and Japan’s Summer Sonic, among others. “It’s just on and on, all over the world,” she said from an office at Atlantic Records, before it all kicked off.
Because of her vagrant lifestyle (“I’ve probably spent not even a year in my house in the U.K. and I’ve had that for, like, four years.”), she knows what she needs with her: Carmex, eye mask, backpack. But also that it’s not the end of the world if she forgets something. “I just put everything in that’s colorful, and then if I need stuff I’ll just buy it on the way,” she said.
When she’s not on the move, Charli tries to spend as much time in the studio as possible, writing for herself as well as other artists like Camila Cabello. “I just love being in the studio, and I write so much stuff that I can’t release all of it. I’ll write three songs a day when I’m working in the studio, and obviously some of them are better than others, but it’s fun to write for other people,” she said. “It’s nice to collaborate and step into other artists’ worlds.”
Today, though, she’s releasing her own music: the single “Boys” ahead of her third album, which she describes as “probably the most pop thing I’ve done.”
Here, she talks packing and travel.
“I have a wealth of backpacks.”
I always take a big jacket wherever I’m going—I really like this oversized bomber jacket, I got it in China from this designer called Sankuaz who made it for me and embroidered my name on the front of it which is pretty cool. I always take a backpack with me everywhere, but a month ago I had broken every single backpack that I owned because I always overpack it with so much shit. Then I had no backpack, which was really stressful, but then loads of backpacks came into my life all of a sudden. Now I have a wealth of backpacks which is great. This is my current favorite, it’s Marc Jacobs. I love all the patches. And then I always pack a phone charger everywhere I go, and headphones just because one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is listen to music.
“I don’t listen to a lot of other people’s music.”
My favorite place to listen to music is in a car, at night, looking out the window, or taking off on a plane—that’s my favorite time to listen to music. Right now, to be honest, I don’t listen to a lot of other people’s music. I listen to a lot of my own music because I’m always in the studio making stuff and I like to listen back to the demos that I’ve made. I’ve been in the studio a lot recently, so there’s a lot to listen to. I feel like artists continuously listen to their own music until the music is out and then you never listen to it again. Sometimes I write on planes. It’s hard though because when I write I have to sing a lot, so I go to the bathroom a lot to do that. If I’m writing I’ll just keep going to the bathroom, but then I also look pretty weird.
“I love a simple cool T-shirt to put with any outfit.”
I’ve got a couple T-shirts in my bag from Fiorucci, they sent them to me because I mentioned Fiorucci in a song of mine that’s on my mixtape, so that’s kind of cool. I just love a simple cool T-shirt to put with any outfit. What else do I have? A lot of skincare stuff from Kiehl’s like toner, and also their avocado eye cream that’s amazing, this Etude Bio Cellulose mask, which I got from a trip to South Korea recently. I was with my makeup artist and we went to loads of beauty stores—he was going crazy. He bought so much stuff, and all of it really works. I was in South Korea to do a DJ set for MCM which was really fun. We were there for 24 hours and we were so tired, but we really made the most of it because I was so excited to go. I’d never been to South Korea before and they happened to be doing a Boiler Room party that night. So, we ended up at that Boiler Room and met loads of fun people and ate Korean barbecue at like 4 a.m. It was my first time having it, and it was so fun.
“You just have to sleep for as long as possible whenever you can.”
We left L.A. yesterday morning and now I’m here and then we’re going to go back tomorrow, and then I’m going to go to London like three days after that. It’s like you kind of don’t even get on a schedule, so you just have to sleep for as long as possible whenever you can and if that’s at like 10 p.m. for six hours that’s great, and if it’s at like 4 p.m. that’s fine as well. It’s annoying, but you have to just sleep for as long as you can. Tonight, I have an awards ceremony thing and I’m probably going to leave it straight away and go to bed at like 10, but last night I had my show and I partied. I went to Asia maybe three weeks ago, it’s been nonstop, and now it’s Coachella and then I more shows and then London and Paris.
“You never know if you’re going to end up at a house party with a hot tub or at a hotel pool.”
I always take a bikini or bathing suit everywhere I go just because you never know if you’re going to end up at a house party with a hot tub or at a hotel pool. And then also, an eye mask, so you can sleep wherever you are. And then just the essentials: toothbrush, passport, lots of different pairs of sunglasses. I got these Prada sunglasses at a vintage store in Portland. They remind me of The Matrix. Oh, and underwear—these are from Local Heroes, and they’re Snow White-themed. I just pack as much stuff as possible—I don’t think about outfits in advance, I just put everything in that’s like colorful, and then if I need stuff I’ll just buy it on the way.
“I’m not really good with skincare stuff, I don’t really understand it.”
Something that I always bring with me is Carmex because I have really, really dry lips—I have to carry it everywhere. If I don’t have it, I have a breakdown. I try and do masks on the plane, and I really just try and sleep as much as possible on planes and drink as much water as possible and that’s kind of it really. I’m not really good with skincare stuff, I don’t really understand it, so I always have to have someone tell me to go and do a thing because I’m never going to do it, I’m lazy.
“I prioritize comfort, one hundred percent.”
I always wear sports stuff when I travel, like leggings or I have these really cool Calvin Klein sleep leggings that I used to wear a lot, but I think I lost them. Or I always wear the Adidas three stripe pants, because they look cool and they’re comfortable. I prioritze comfort, one hundred percent. It’s like one of the only times I get to actually sleep and be alone, so I couldn’t think of anything worse than being in a fucking heel and mini-dress.
“It’s like a postcard.”
My number one favorite hotel is the Belles-Rives Hotel in Cannes, which is where F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald used to write a lot and stay there and it’s really, really beautiful and looks out over the water and it’s just very beautiful, like French Riviera, classic. It’s old, the food’s incredible, but it’s just like so beautiful there. It’s like a postcard. That’s probably my number one.
- 1Marc Jacobs backpack, $175-$995
- 2Fiorucci t-shirt, $80
- 3Kiehl's Ultra Face Toner, $16
- 4Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, $48
- 5Etude House Real Skin-fit Bio Cellulose Mask, $5.90
- 6Local Heroes Snow White underwear, $25
- 7Carmex Original Tube Lip Balm, $2.74
- 8Adidas Original Three-Stripe Leggings, $35