Allie X Lives in a Weird World



FEB 27, 2024


A group to our left at Public Hotel’s coffee shop is chattering loudly in French as an over-the-top display of heart-shaped balloons frames Allie X, who has just arrived this morning in New York City from Los Angeles. It’s Valentine’s Day, and everyone around us seems to be overly excited, but Allie looks completely unbothered. She suggests we move to the bistro table nearby, pulling my phone closer and enunciating so the sound of everyone next to us doesn’t drown out the interview. As she takes out a small glass container, putting a drop of mineral oil into her Americano, we relax into our seats. Despite the tumultuous path that has led to her new album Girl with No Face — one wrought with industry and personal trials — Allie sits with clear eyes, pacing her words out evenly.

The contrasting energy is both at odds with, while still embodying, the underlying current of Girl with No Face: a collection of strange, melodic escapades that see Allie venturing deep into her new wave aspirations. As the persistent and pulsating opener warns, her fourth full-length offering is an ode to a “Weird World” that Allie created from scratch for herself and by herself. A product of three years in isolation and Allie’s fight for creative autonomy over her career, Girl with No Face is a literal reflection of the pop artist. The album is named after the entity Allie summoned when — instead of avoiding the good, bad and ugly of her inner world — she decided to mirror it through her music.

“It's been such a long time coming,” she says. “I can't believe that it's actually going to be out. [The album] took me so long to make and even this rollout has been too long, in my opinion. You know, they pressure you to do these long rollouts,” Allie adds with a smile. “I'll be relieved that it's out in the world. You never really know what a piece of art is until it has its audience, so I'm excited for that piece to be in place.”


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Getting any pieces to fall into place wasn’t exactly easy, though. In the space between her last release, 2020’s Cape God, Allie, who got her start in Toronto, had pretty much disappeared from the public eye. “Ever since moving from Toronto to Los Angeles and becoming a part of what I call the commercial pop industry, I would say I'd been a little confused creatively by the certain ways things were done,” she says. “I never thought of myself as a pop writer until I got to LA and then all of a sudden, I was in this major label radio circuit. It changed the way I wrote and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I'm not like these writers, so I better learn how to be like these writers [to] make my music work.”

Despite the pressure to assimilate, Allie fought for individuality. When her self-produced 2015 track “Bitch” became her most successful song, reaching surprise viral success years after its release off her debut albumCollXtion I, it sparked a new way of creating. Allie realized, “You did that by yourself without even really thinking about it. What if you did like a whole album with that approach?” It took a while before she would take action on that thought, but it was the inciting moment that led to Girl with No Face as she dealt with “a lot of things happening at once.”

“Around the time the pandemic happened, we started looking into my contracts and finances, and the ship stopped,” Allie says. “Basically, I was like, ‘Where's my money?’ [My album] Cape God had just come out and I was like, ‘Let me see what I've actually signed here. What am I actually making?’ A lot of artists don't even know because we live on advances.” Digging into this gave Allie a new perspective on her career. “I was shocked and sad at what people I had trusted made me sign,” she says. “I managed to get out of a couple of contracts and at the same time I decided to produce this record. I needed to take over the ship and get it back.”

While resetting course, Allie was also dealing with health issues that landed her in the hospital. “I’ve had a lifetime of chronic illness, an autoimmune disease,” she says. “I've never really talked about it because I never want it to be part of my story or the focal point. But in early 2022, I was gearing up for a big tour and trying to wrap this record, which in retrospect was nuts. I was going super hard and a couple of other things happened that may have contributed to this really bad flare. I ended up in such a state that I couldn't even take water and I was really, really sick. I couldn't work for six months. I was so weak and traumatized.” Despite the physical setback, Allie returned to her music by that summer. “I very quickly wrote the final three songs for [Girl with No Face],” she says. “I'm actually, in that sense, grateful that I didn't try to finish this thing on that timeline I was on. I'm still recovering in some ways.”

Still, Allie remained confident. “There was no confusion in my mind on what direction I wanted to head,” she says. “I had a sound in mind right from the get-go, and it was basically my favorite genre of music and what I was listening to at the time.” She’d been leaning into a listening diet of early ’80s British post-punk. “I really indulged myself. I watched a lot of YouTube documentaries about various bands from that time with New Order and Joy Division, which became the border, then a lot of Depeche Mode.” She filled in that outline with Eurythmics and anything that was “gothy and synth” at the same time. “My flagship songs were ‘Sweet Dreams’ [by Eurythmics] and ‘Blue Monday’ [by New Order],” she says. “I wanted to make an album that feels like that.”

And Allie did, but she kept all her creations close to her chest. From 2020 to 2023, no one heard what she was working on. “I'm really glad I did it that way, but it was a bit like a torture process,” she says. “Not only was I trying to write these songs and arrangements, but there were the technical challenges.” Though Allie knew she wanted to produce the entire album herself, she’d get “carried away for days just trying to get the kick sound right,” for example. Through trial and error, and leaning into the creativity that could only come by way of limitations, Girl with No Face finally came to be.

She led the album rollout with “Black Eye,” a track about “Losing at life... in style,” as she told PAPER. “In my head, I’m such a fighter that it’s almost funny,” she says. “Throwing punches and getting punched. I’m talking about when you get so used to pain that you expect it and you almost get a high from it.” In the staccato synth track, Allie urges, “Hit me, hit me with that super bass/ 'cause I want tonight to slap me in the face” adding, “There’s no need to cry/ it’s just a black eye.” She explains, “There's this desire in me to always be in conflict and to show people that I can handle pain. ‘Black Eye’ is a reflection on all of that. I like to think that even the darkest songs on this record have a bit of wit and sarcasm.”

Another lead single, “Off With Her Tits,” contains that same sharp lyricism: a mixture of humor and bite, with a pumping dance floor beat. “I wrote it in the bath,” she says. “I try to satirize super dark thoughts and take the piss out of myself, take the piss out of the world.” In “You Slept On Me,” Allie pays homage to statement she’s seen repeated throughout her career urging that she deserves more flowers for her work. “I usually don't write a song as a communication with fans, but this one definitely is,” she says. “I was just laughing as I wrote it, picturing myself as vengeful.” The track comes in with ominous production before bursting into upbeat drum beats as Allie confronts the world, “Time to get down on one knee/ Tell me why you slept on me?”Talking about her experience, from tweets to industry woes, gave Allie a sense of control over her story. “Going through this process helps me separate my thoughts and not feel so stuck in my body,” she says. “So I don’t feel weighed down by those thoughts.”

Allie also took full control over this era’s visuals, directing the music videos for “Black Eye” and “Weird World.” In “Black Eye” she plays a surreal game of chess against herself, backed by dark, haunting beings as she “loses in style.” She previously told PAPER, “I always saw ‘Black Eye’ as black and shades of white, no color. I think it's one of the reasons the chess game was so instantly right for this song.” In “Weird World,” Allie leans into ’80s nostalgia, wearing a retro pink dress while more shadowy dancers draped in black move behind her. At moments, the camera pans away to reveal the video set and a dazed Allie as she sings, “I used to be a dream girl, but the world interfered/ At least now I know why, now I know I'm weird,” showing an idyllic world falling apart in real-time.


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When it comes to the world of her listeners, Allie’s just excited to have them interact with the music. “I've got people that listen to my music and that's enough,” she says. “I can make a living. I don't really care about how much press I get or what some douchebag has to say about the way that I look or anything. I think [this album] allowed me to be who I am.”

On Girl with No Face, Allie X spent time with herself and experienced the creative fruit of that labor, painstakingly stripping back any artifice and finding what remained when she let herself be. She likened the process to sitting in the confines of a room, forced to stare into her reflection and leaning into the discomfort instead of looking away. “It's so uncomfortable to even stare at yourself for a second,” she says. “It’s funny when you try to talk to yourself in the mirror, what's unleashed. In the case of this record, I feel like I unleashed a lot of anger and aggression from being so stuck with myself for so long. It just came out.”



Source: https://www.papermag.com/allie-x-girl-with-no-face#rebelltitem25





Photography: Joaquin Castillo
Styling: Stella Evans
Hair: Chika Nishiyama
Makeup: Julian Stoller
Styling assistant: Ethan Gekow
Editor-in chief :Justin Moran
managing editor: Matt Wille
editorial producer: Angelina Cantu
story: Erica Campbell
Location: C'mon Everybody

March 14, 2024 — Victoria Velandia

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