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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


JUNE 2024

Photographs by Vasili Papathanasopoulos.

Styling by CXLOE.

Having launched her career in 2017 with her debut single Tough Love, CXLOE has cemented her place as one of Australia’s dark-pop luminaries. 

A string of releases have all led towards CXLOE’s debut album, Shiny New Thing, a career defining moment. Just last week, Apple Music featured the record on their ‘Best Albums of 2024 (So Far)’ list. Embedded within the albums DNA is the evolution of CXLOE’s artistry, stretching beyond just the music to create an everlasting identity for her creative output. “I no longer feel nervous to experiment with my look and my identity. I love exploring with different styles and costuming and wigs and also sonically.” That experimentation has facilitated an expansion on her signature sound, weaving in threads of hyper-pop and drum-and-bass into the albums sonic realm. “With this album as it's called Shiny New Thing, I wanted to explore different sounds as my attempt to capture people's attention in a figurative way, and also quite literally. So I wanted to take more risks with sonics. I've got like my first drum and bass track. I've never kind of entered that hyper-pop world.” From the outset and throughout, every pulsating beat and mesmerising melody feeds into the records finely crafted soundscapes that unfurl beneath CXLOE’s hypnotic vocal performance. The singer cites the albums title track as the driving force behind her new exploration of sound, “When we were making it, it kind of reminded me a little bit of Fred again.. in like the bass. I really loved that. I remember coming out of the session being like, 'oh, okay I think we've found the sonic world that I want it to live in.' It kind of taps on a bunch of different genres which I love.” Each song on the album has the potential to become a hit single, showcasing the breadth of CXLOE’s creativity. From the beguiling opening harmonies of Half Of Me, to the auto-tuned second verse of No Service, and all the way to the 80’s nostalgia present on the synth-work of Chloe Enough!, the body of work cruises through the the realm of pop to create a dynamic listening experience that ushers in a new era for Australia’s pop music scene.

Dress, Haluminous. Earrings, Casper Land. Lip Ring, Daemon Concept.

This new direction feeds into the albums overarching theme of reinvention and identity. Across the thirteen tracks, CXLOE explore the idea that it is okay to be more than one thing when it's on your own terms, and the pressures placed upon women within the music industry. She tells me the album “explores the concept of identity and my complex relationship with identity, how I am perceived, and the way in which everlasting youthfulness is in demand - especially within female musicians.” It can be seen that for decades female-identifying artists have, particularly within pop music, reinvented themselves each album cycle - be that with their sound, styling and more - when compared to their male-identifying counterparts. Artists who have shape-shifted throughout their career, using their new sound and aesthetic to evolve. Whilst CXLOE has only just delivered her debut album, with over seven years actively releasing music, that pressure to remain relevant for the consumers gaze is one that has been present within her thoughts. However, she embraces self-expressionism as she questions the ethics of the music industry when it comes to age and gender. “For so long artists have been reinventing themselves, but I really wanted to get to the bottom of why. I think that there is this incessant demand for new things, and I think our attention span and especially with all of the content that we have to create, we have to keep on appearing as this shiny new thing. Unfortunately, if you stay in the game for too long, you become dusty and old. So I really wanted to explore reinvention of self, because that's what I love to do. This is self-expression, but I tow the line sometimes of, 'oh, am I doing this for myself or am I doing this so that I can be seen and heard?' So the album entirely as a project is my kind of cry to be heard, but also facetious in a way.” Cheating On Myself particularly captures this sentiment, documenting feelings of betrayal as she questions how her public persona has directly affected who she is at her core. There’s a vulnerability present on the record that delves deeper beneath the surface of her previous releases, perfectly complimented by a ferocious confidence. These contrasting notions capture the albums interrogative-meets-tongue-in-cheek nature. 

Dress, Haluminous. Earrings, Casper Land.

The thought of being vulnerable isn’t lost on the singer, as I ask her if whilst writing the album she felt any apprehension about sharing personal stories and turning a spotlight on the workings of the industry. “I'm terrified,” she exclaims. “I am definitely terrified putting out this body of work. I don't wanna be seen as this artist who's harping on about the industry and we have to be this, and you have to stay young and like all of this. So I'm terrified for putting myself out there and talking about these themes and these concepts.” That fear is overridden by her own experiences and sharing a message with fellow artists. "I also live it every day. I know a lot of my friends who are artists do as well. Having to continually freshen up your look just to stay relevant. As much as I love doing that for fun as a form of self-expression, I don't ever wanna be doing it so that I have to continually appear to seem interesting or for the public gaze.” That defiance against industry standards simmers within each song, driven by CXLOE’s knack for relatable lyricism and meticulous detail when it comes to crafting a song. She names Half Of Me, Flight Risk and Shiny New Thing as the three songs she would play to someone to give them the best glimpse into what she has to say and who she is as an artist. The sonically dark and textural Half Of Me opens the album, heralded by layered harmonies. "I think that shows one side of me as an artist, kind of tapping into that alter ego world which I love and is so much fun - especially aesthetically.” Flight Risk presents itself as one of the albums most personal tracks, touching on her mental state. “I think Flight Risk has some of my favourite lyrics I've ever written… that song lyrically stands out to me and really reveals a lot about myself and how I operate and my triggers and my stresses and my anxiety.” Throughout our time spent unpacking the record, CXLOE often references the title track and how it helped shape the album. She describes its genre as ‘dance-cry,’ and notes its her favourite song sonically. “I wanna bang my head to it in a dirty warehouse, but then cry at the same time. That's my favourite type of music, dance-cry, music.”

Dress, Haluminous. Earrings, Casper Land. Lip Ring, Daemon Concept.

Her approach to songwriting flows more as a stream of consciousness, using the body of work as a journal that capture her state of mind and thoughts surrounding fame, love, heartbreak and authenticity. She details her creative process, mapping out the consistent keys that help unlock her creativity. “When writing for a project, I like to come in with ideas. I usually have notes in my notes app. I've got like song titles for days because I like to have some control over what I'm doing. A lot of the time these are concepts that I've been wanting to explore but haven't done it yet or have tried but didn't nail it.” From there, she opens up to collaborators. On Shiny New Thing, CXLOE worked with producers Frequency, Jussi Karvinen and songwriter Eric Leva to name a few. “I usually come into a recording session with some reference tracks that I can show the producer, or usually a producer will reach out the night before and be like, 'Hey, what are you vibing? What are you loving?' If I've worked with them before they know the lane that I'm wanting to explore.” From there, it’s an organic flow between the singer and her collaborators as they begin mining their artistry to create gold. Spending the first few hours ‘vibing’ through playing music that interests them to help create a world for the song, CXLOE then starts to experiment with melodies before delving into songwriting. “I'll just like put my voice memos on and start singing things and if anything kind of pops out, I'll listen to it and kind of scroll back to what I liked and then go from there and then fit lyrics into those melodies that have jumped out.” Reaffirming the message CXLOE’s conveying through this album, it’s a chronicle of her life.

Wrapping up our chat, we start to delve into the other side of her artistry, performing. Earlier this year, CXLOE toured the UK alongside MILKY’s May cover star, rising pop phenomenon Griff. The tour allowed the singer the opportunity to test songs from the album on the road, where she was able to gauge which songs blossomed with audiences. The logistics and hardships of touring within the current climate of festival cancellations is not lost on her. “Touring is really hard especially as an independent artist, you're fronting a lot of the costs. So if the demand is there, [I’m] definitely doing a headline tour and I feel like I owe it to my fans.” CXLOE last toured Australia in May 2021, performing to sold-out crowds in Sydney and Melbourne, and has supported Maroon 5 and Sugarbabes at their respective Australian performances. With a completely new set of songs out in the world since the last time she graced local stages, she shares one final wish for Shiny New Thing; “Hopefully I'll be able to do a headline tour in Australia.”


Stylist: CXLOE

Videographer: Nelson Clyde Assistant: Laurence Morassut

Shiny New Thing is out now!


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