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By Drew Howard

Allie X returns after a four-year wait with her third album, ‘Girl With No Face,’ which just so happens to ceremoniously drop the same week as her previous LP ‘Cape God.’ In the words of Allie X herself, the new project is a true goth pop record that marks a sonic left turn, drawing influence from 70’s and 80’s post punk/new wave genres out of the UK. Notably, Allie X has songwriting and production credits across all 11 tracks on ‘GWNF.’

“This is the only album where I’ve ever spent this many hours on it, “Allie X tells Pop Crave. “The hours that went into this went beyond my wildest dreams of how much could go into an album. I’d do 12 hour days, day after day after day, and then eventually my ears would just break and I’d take a week off and come back and do it again. Break, then lose perspective, it was madness…It was a very torturous process, as well as very liberating one.”

Allie X shared the new album with Pop Crave for an interview earlier this month. Read the discussion in full below:

How would you describe yourself and this album to people who may be reading about you for the first time?

I’ve been called Goth Pop before, but I think that’s more because of the way I look than the way I sound. But this record for me is truly Goth Pop.

What was the first and last song you made for the album?

Technically, the first song was “Girl With No Face.” But it wasn’t called that, and it was written in 2014. The first song written with intention for this body of work was “Weird World,” written in the summer of 2020. And the last song was “Saddest Smile,” even though original demo was written in summer of 2020, “Saddest Smile” was finished last.

You have production credits on every song here – is that new for you?

Yeah, for me it is – I’ve always had a hand in production and strong opinions on production. Oftentimes I’ve taken a track someone else produced for me and changed it up in Ableton, which is the program I work in. “Bitch” is the track I produced myself, but I’ve never done an album – after the pandemic I just had a lot of time. I was restless I guess, creatively…I’m someone who needs to keep moving all the time. I wasn’t going out or seeing anyone, so I took that energy and put it into making beats in Ableton. And then I started putting melodies on it, just messing around – I rented a chord pro-log and wrote the track for “Weird World.” Then I wrote the melody – I thought, this is something – it feels like a synth fantasy. From then, I decided I think I”m going to give this a go. I have time, I’ve always wanted to try it, so I think I’m going to produce my own album.

And I mean producing in the true programming sense. This was especially a thing before the 2000s – you could be a “producer” and not even know your way around gear, like you just tell people what to do and you have an engineer do it. But since the 2000s, now a producer needs to be able to program and do a whole bunch of technical stuff. Thus began my journey in programming, arranging and writing a whole record by myself.

What instruments do you play?

I play keys, so by virtue of keys I can play any sound through a midi controller. I programmed the drums and programmed/wrote all the synth parts. My partner George, who’s written with me on a bunch of other stuff, wrote all the guitar parts. A lot of times I comped and edited them, but that was him playing and his composition. And then Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who I finished the record with, he also played guitars and bass and random things like hand percussions. But everything else I would’ve been doing myself.

Back to what you said about producers delegating – I see lots of major artists credited as producers or songwriters, but you never really know what actually went into that.

The saying is, “say a word, get a third.” And you’re never going to really know exactly how it went down, oftentimes in the commercial pop world a song will be written by a number of writers when the artist isn’t in the room, but then the artist will go to record it and change a word or melody slightly and get equal publishing on it, which I think is kind of silly. And sometimes they’re just a big enough artist that they can demand equal publishing.

I listened to the albums a couple times before this, my favorites right now are “Staying Power” and “Truly Dreams.” I love the melodies, talk a little about the process of making those songs.

“Truly Dreams” was composed earlier, that was a 2020 one. It took a while to crack, but the original idea was very early. That one was written over a riff that George did on bass guitar, and then I made it into a synth bass part. I’d call it the most groovy track, I’m not someone who has much groove in me, I’m very on the grid and you can hear that in these songs – but that one has a bounce to it and a little bit of funk, which is the only song I’d say on the album that has that, and that’s because of George‘s riff. I tried to incorporate that in the percussion as well, we tried to do real hi-hats on that and give it a little bit of a disco feeling.

The tempo changed drastically at the last second, I felt like because I don’t have a good sense of groove, I was just never confident about the tempo. So we ended up slowing it down like 5 or 6 bpm. Lyrically, I wanted to end the album with “Truly Dreams” because it feels like a dreamer song, it’s an optimistic way to end the album, looking forward and never giving up.

I love albums with optimistic closers. Like “Perfect Places” on ‘Melodrama.’ The new Nicki Minaj album has a great closing song that captures that kind of feeling too, it’s called “Just The Memories.”

Oh cool! I’ll check it out, I haven’t heard it.

I also love when an album is a concise 10-12 tracks. It feels like more bang for your buck, and more of an indicator that it’s not a “playlist album” where there’s 20-plus tracks and the artist is throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

I get why that’s strategically smart these days with the way streaming works, but I sort of ignore those smart business moves here and just make five minute songs.

It’s all about investing in your fans, I really believe it pays off. It’s planting seeds.

I agree.

Is there a song you’re most inspired to make a music video for?

I think “Off With Her Tits” deserves a music video. I’m probably going to do one more video, I just need to wait and see what song warrants it. At my level, I don’t really know. I didn’t know the hit off ‘Cape God’ was going to be “Susie Save Your Love.” If I had known, I would’ve made a video for it. So on this one, I think I”m going to wait and see how it goes, but I hope “Tits” is the one that raises its hand. I feel like I could make an epic video for it.

“Off With Her Tits” really caught me off guard, and I don’t know if this is even close to your intention but I get ‘Rocky Horror’ vibes from it. I was imagining a whole music video in my head.

I wasn’t thinking that, but I always get that – even before I was Allie X. People used to say my live show reminded them of ‘Rocky Horror.’ I guess I have a lot of camp in me, and I got a lot of dark goth vibes at the same time. When you combine those things you land in ‘Rocky Horror’ land.

I’m glad you chose “Off With Her Tits” because I totally agree. I just love music videos period, but the landscape is so different today.

I love music videos too, but I never make money off of them. So me justifying spending another $30,000 is difficult. It’s kind of like with live performances, if you don’t do the video the fan doesn’t get the whole picture.

And with music videos, if you’re at a bar where they play videos alongside the tracks it’s always so fun.

Totally. I hope we have the means and the reason to do one more great music video for this record. Or who knows, there’s always a world where it does surprisingly, unexpectedly super well. But if it goes the way it normally goes, which is gradual climb in fandom and listeners, then maybe one more music video.

Was there a song that challenged you the most in the making of this album?

“Black Eye” – there were so many iterations of that. It started off as a song called “Brightside” – it was one of the first ones, and I couldn’t stop trying to get it to work. it felt quintessentially what I wanted the album to be and how I heard in my head, but I couldn’t get it to translate when I was producing. That song has like 20 versions, a lot of basic parts are the same but I’ll try a different bass line on this one, put this one in a different key, layer a bunch of shit on this one – that sort of thing. It was when I muted everything and changed the bass line to something simpler, it just started to work. I was so happy at that moment, and it was a turning point for where I found the sound overall for whole album – that was a flagship sort of moment.

Are you someone who is playing your music for other people to get opinions?

I only played it for one person, my partner George. He was the only person involved musically in this, I wasn’t ready to show anyone on my team, I wasn’t ready to invite anyone to collaborate with me. That’s why the process was so crazy making this, I’d lose perspective or almost lose possibilities of where it could go, I kept losing hope – the interesting thing is when you take a step away and go back to something, then you will have a new perspective. So that’s an important lesson I learned.

When an album takes years to make, stans don’t always understand that part about perspective and giving art space.

Yeah, and often times you write a lot of songs and have to bring them together somehow, that’s happened to me before. This is the only album where I’ve ever spent this many hours on it – the hours that went into this went beyond my wildest dreams of how much could go into an album. I’d do 12 hour days, day after day after day, and then eventually my ears would just break and I’d take a week off and come back and do it again. Break, then lose perspective, it was madness…It was a very torturous process, as well as very liberating one.

Do you have a proper tour set up yet?

No proper tour, but it’s in discussion. And I’m doing a handful of record store performances in London for the release week. And then I’m doing HEAV3N in LA this Friday, and doing a private, secret preview right before it.

What’s your connection to the UK?

I have a British passport and my dad is from the UK. I have a bunch of family there, but that’s not why I’m going to be there this week – I have my biggest following in London so it made sense to be out there. And in terms of press and the response around the record, it’s been strongest there. I’m also going to maybe do Paris Fashion Week the week after.

It’s crazy how with streaming and the internet, your music can really take you anywhere around the world

I hope I get super famous in Japan and Switzerland, then I can just live there.

Is there a song you’re most excited to perform?

I did a corporate show a couple weeks ago so we put a set together. My faves right now to perform live are “Weird World,” “Girl With No Face” and “Off With Her Tits.” I imagine “You Slept On Me” will be really fun as well. I just haven’t done it yet.

Talk about that song “You Slept On Me” a little bit

That’s a Twitter-inspired song, the timeless “stop sleeping on Allie X” tweet. Just playing into that and giving my side on the injustice of it all [laughs]. It’s all tongue-in-cheek, a lot of these songs are. They’re somewhere between really deep, dark, thoughtful stuff and then just totally taking the piss.

The title “Staying Power” made me think of Stan Twitter too

“Staying Power” is pretty direct. I think “Staying Power” is my realization that my best talent is my pain tolerance.

Is there a song that’s your personal favorite on here?

I think I need more time away from this record to really know that. I re-listened to ‘Cape God’ after not listening for two years, and I was like oh wow, “Fresh Laundry” is the best song on the album.” But I wouldn’t have known that at the time, I need time away.

It’s the same thing on the other side of it with listeners. It was one thing when it dropped, and two years later it’s suddenly a classic that everyone slept on.

Story of my career!

Is there another promo single you’re planning on putting out?

I haven’t announced yet, but I’m putting “Weird World” out a couple days before the album. But not really, that sort of me is being released alongside the album.

We haven’t talked about tracks 4-6 yet: “John & Johnathan,” “Galina” and “Hardware Software.” What went into making those?

“John and Johnathan”…I did this song with Violet Chachki called “Mistress Violet,” that was released in 2021. There’s this French producer who did the track to it, and I wrote on top of the track. I liked his style, so I was like, “Hey I’m working on a record right now, your beats are in the zone of what I want to be doing, do you want to send me anything?” He sent me the track and the verse/melody to “John and Johnathan,” though there were no words, and it had a whole different beat chart. I was like, this has a lot of potential, send me your stems and I’ll write a song to it. I changed it around a lot, and came up with the whole John and Johnathan concept. That ended up being the only co-production on the album. I think I’d written that by end of 2020.

How was it working with Violet? Love her

I love her too. She’s such a bitch, and so am I. She would say the same thing. We’re both people who don’t work well with others, but we kind of know that about each other, so I guess we work well together on certain projects. She’s styled me before, I wrote her song, she was in “All The Rage” with me – we keep doing all these little collabs. We laugh our asses off, and I think she’s a total visionary. She’s so strong, has such a confidence and strong attitude and fearlessness. I really admire her.

It’d be so fun if you could do her podcast, ‘No Gorge’ with Gottmik.

They’re both my friends, so they better have me on their fucking podcast!

What’s the meaning behind the title “Galina?”

I think I’ll have to leave this one a mystery. It’s about somebody who I needed something from, and they let me down.

What can you tell us about “Hardware Software.”

I watched a French film and the score was this very interesting French contemporary composition, I was very taken by the voicing and the movements of the chords. I was inspired by it. I woke up the next day and messed with those types of voicing, ended up writing that wacky ass song. I put it to a machine beat and improvised over top of it, and those words came out. I needed more simple beat part to turn it around, and that’s where the da-duh, dah duh comes in. Imagine if “Hardware Software” was the hit of the album, I’d be so happy.

I say that with humor, but you never know with TikTok. I’d be happy with any of these being the hit, I can really stand behind any of them. I’m looking at the track list now, it’s not like other albums where there’s one that’s really good but the vocal is boring for me. I’d be happy to sing any of these on late night TV or festivals – anything.

Last question: what’s inspiring you with music lately? Any recommendations?

I’m probably not the best person to ask because I listen to a lot of old music, but I’ve been revisiting ‘Beautifully Human’ by Jill Scott and ‘So Tonight That I Might See’ by Mazzy Star – and an album called ‘Pleasure Victim’ by a band called Berlin. There’s some classics for the kiddies.

Stream Allie X’s new album, ‘Girl With No Face’ on Spotify: