Music

Allie X is a Shape Shifter

The indie pop artist, whose new single "Rings a Bell" came out today, makes every project an all-out, collaborative experience.
Reading time 10 minutes

Photography by Adam Reyna

Styling by Melvin Sanders

For Allie X, every project is a full-blown artistic production. The Canadian singer-songwriter has cultivated a brand of indie pop she describes as “detuned dream pop” or even, as Sasha Velour once said, “gaudy North American goth pop,” and she accompanies her ever-evolving sound with the requisite avant-garde visual elements. As a result, the artist has cultivated a portfolio that establishes her as so much more than a musician, but a true multifaceted creative.

A prime example of Allie X’s audiovisual approach to music is her new single, “Fresh Laundry." Even with a mere 12 hours between the releases of the track and its accompanying video, the singer-songwriter couldn’t stay away from showing the world what her new sound looks like, collaborating with Skeleton Crew on a moving visualizer that debuted alongside her song. But don’t think that gave away the content of the actual video: that part, which dropped this afternoon, is a theatrical moment of Allie X hanging around a house, appearing skeptical as she explores the environment and messes with a doll look-alike. That contrasts greatly from the pulsing, black-and-white image that feels a lot like an engaging fashion campaign. She just released a visualizer for "Rings a Bell" as well, wearing nothing less than an avant-garde Iris Van Herpen look.

Fashion is a creative field that particularly intrigues Allie X, as she consistently works on artistic photoshoots and enjoys the experience of attending shows. The musician is learning more about the industry every day as she collaborates and observes, but has a strong interest in the artistic side of fashion, with favorite designers including Iris Van Herpen, Thom Browne, and Graham Tyler—the rising designer whose creations feature in this editorial.

“To me...a big part of fashion [is] an understanding of what is striking, but then refusing to follow any one school of thought or rule and instead making something new,” the singer-songwriter said of what she likes about her explorations into the field. This unconventional innovation is evident in the new shoot’s Valentino-esque flower lashes and sharp poses, as well as the eclectic style that makes its way into her work in general.

This fall, Allie X has exciting plans as she heads out on tour, opening for both Marina and Charli XCX as well as headlining in Asia. To celebrate the start of her next phase, Allie X opened up about her shape-shifting nature, desire for female empowerment, and love for her dog.

 

What first sparked your interest in music?

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to sing.  My earliest memories are crying to "I Can't Find My Baby" by Lisa Stansfield (because I thought it was about a mother who lost her baby), singing "Once Upon a Dream" from Sleeping Beauty, and refusing to leave the pool in swimming lessons because I was a mermaid and said I would die if I was removed from the water. I was THAT kid.

 

Where do you get inspiration for your music?

It's honestly a tricky question to answer.  Sometimes it's as simple as I'm listening to someone else's music and it inspires an idea in me, whether it be lyrical, percussive, tempo-related, or something more abstract. Or sometimes something happens to me that I need to get off my chest.  Sometimes music just appears out of thin air in my head when I'm not trying to write. When I think back to being a little kid and what made me write those first little songs when I was 5 or so, I think it was a desire to be heard, and I think that is still what ultimately drives me today. 

 

Who do you admire in the industry?

Trailblazers.  Strong women. The bold and ugly/beautiful,  Artists whose journey I can relate to. These artists include Kate Bush, Haruki Murakami, Lori Moore, St Vincent, Cocteau Twins, Nico, The Beatles, Duran Duran, Steve Reich, Bjork, Juliette Armanet, PJ Harvey, and so many more.

 

Tell us a bit about the concept behind these photos.

Graham Tyler and I had been fans of each other's work for a couple years and thought me modeling his clothes would be an interesting collaboration. It was one of those rare opportunities where every person on the team got to make creative decisions, from the "hat of hair" by Tim Aylward, to the Valentino-inspired lashes by Audrey Lea Curry, to the crisp, modern, juxtaposing photography by Adam Reyna.  It was a really fun and fulfilling shoot for everyone, I think. Graham is so talented. I love watching his profile rise. 

 

How would you describe your style?

I'm a bit of a shape-shifter with style.  I really like to experiment and change my aesthetic with each body of work. For my last record, Super Sunset, I was very inspired by old Hollywood and drag.  That said, the styles that I always come back to are oversized, schoolgirl, goth, and pastels with a touch of mod. 

 

You mingle with the fashion world a lot, attending shows and working on avant-garde photoshoots. What are some highlights of your work in this aspect so far?

Highlights for me are shoots like this one, watching the artists who have individually put so many years into honing their skills let the rules go and just improvise.  To me, this is a big part of fashion. An understanding of what is striking, but then refusing to follow any one school of thought or rule and instead making something new.  Attending shows is new to me, but has been fun. I am so enamored with many aspects of fashion but feel like when it comes to the "industry" side, I'm still a bit of an outsider.  The longer I do this though, the closer to the fashion world I move, so let’s see!

 

What are some of your favorite brands and why?

Lately I've been floored by Iris Van Herpen's work, and I actually had the chance to wear a piece by her in a shoot, which was so exciting for me. I love Acne, Thom Browne, Issey Miyake, Alexandre Vauthier, Mugler, The Row...I don't know where to stop! Also, in the beauty department, I've found my new favorite face cream.  It's called Yay for Earth and it's seriously so good. It's all natural and made of four ingredients: olive oil, shea butter, beeswax, and pomegranate seed oil. It's changed my skin game. 

 

What have you been thinking about with the new music?

I've been reflecting on my adolescence and finding words that I could never find before. My teenage years, like most people’s, were not easy. Instead of crying at that time, I compartmentalized and dissociated through a lot of it. Perhaps that's why I've had trouble writing about it till now, many years later. To make things more interesting, I placed my experiences into a location I made up in my mind and drew a lot of inspiration from that as well musically and lyrically. This probably sounds confusing. It'll make more sense soon. 

 

How has your sound evolved since you got your start?

Oh God, so much.  I mean, when did I get my start? I guess I was able to quit my day jobs about 5 years ago.  I have a super diverse taste and am pretty versatile with my songwriting. To me, this has been both a blessing and a curse. Because I'm not a purist with any one genre or style of music, it's taken me longer to find my sound.  And then when I found it, it kept evolving. The music I've been making recently feels the most "me" of anything I've ever done though, and that's a cool feeling.

 

What do you hope people take away from this new release?

I hope they buckle down because they're in for a ride! It's my most complex and personal work to date, so I hope that means something to my longtime fans. Even though the sound isn't heavily power-synthy, I think it's very fresh and exciting.

 

Do you have any dream music collaborations?

Maybe Elizabeth Fraser. I've been listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins recently, and I am very fascinated and amazed by her story and her writing. 

 

What do you want to see happen in the music industry?

Fucking female empowerment. Young girl producers and engineers winning Grammys. Bold artistic moves embraced by Gen Z.  Pervy, old, boring executives retiring. 

 

Other than the new music, do you have anything else upcoming?

I'm touring for the whole fall. I’m touring the west coast with Marina, the east coast with Charli XCX, Europe with Marina again, then headlining in Asia! I'm really excited.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I really love my dog Koji, and Canada, and swimming in really cold water.  Just in case anyone was wondering.

Credits

Clothing Graham Tyler

Shoes Fluevog

Makeup Audrey Lea Curry

Hair Timothy Aylward

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