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ATP! Essential Listening: Allie X

If you’re one of Katy Perry’s 67.7 Million Twitter followers, there’s a chance you may remember her sharing a “spring jam” on your timeline last year. In early March 2014, Perry sent out a tweet about her obsession with the song “Catch” by indie pop artist Allie X. Seeming to have appeared out of nowhere, the deliciously dark debut single gleamed with electro-pop finesse and an earworm hook depicting a dysfunctional relationship. It’s no surprise “Catch” earned rave reviews by the likes of Idolator and Time. This contagious first offering from Allie X left fans and critics alike eager for more, as the words “just wait until I catch my breath,” hung in the air, shivering with anticipation for what was to come.

But who is Allie X? Well, algebraically speaking, X represents the unknown. Likewise, Allie X’s candidly articulated identity tends to remain concealed, with the artist preferring to keep her face hidden behind the oversized frames of sunglasses and her sleek waterfall of ebony tresses. Somehow, Canadian-born twentysomething Alexandra Ashley Hughes, who was a finalist on the televised nation-wide competition How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? to star as Maria von Trapp in the 2008 Andrew Lloyd Webber/David Mirvish revival of The Sound of Music, reinvented herself into this curious character. The artist says that this is a method of self-discovery for her; “when I find my full self, I will no longer be Allie X.” (She’s got a blank space, baby.)

“Catch” was followed with similarly spontaneous SoundCloud releases “Prime” and “Bitch” in 2014, which continued to generate the pop persona of Allie X. The artist had since found her way from isolated apartment writing sessions amidst Toronto’s subtle indie-pop scene to the glistening mecca of pop that is Los Angeles, writing songs as per her publishing deal, but still primarily viewing herself as a solo artist. While in LA, she met and began working with fellow Canadians, producers/songwriters Cirkut and Billboard, who have cut tracks for Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Perry herself.

Allie X is now gearing up for her first release via Universal Music and Toronto’s Sleepless Records, CollXtion I, which she defines as neither an LP nor an EP. Instead, it’s presented as “a full multimedia Xperience”, encompassing seven tracks and visual aids, many of which are in the form of spinning GIFs. Visual elements prove to be important to the artist, with the eccentric video for “Catch” having been released in January of this year having notable similarities to the eerie atmospheric feel of American Horror Story: Coven. Allie X encourages artistic expression from her fans, modulating a Tumblr-based art Xhibit for their X-inspired work. On what she hopes people will take away from her music, the artist recently told Idolator that she would “like them to feel liberated in some way, and hopefully inspired to make some sort of creation of their own.

Allie X’s crisp soprano vocals layered atop a symphony of synths are comparable to the stylings of Ellie Goulding and CHVRCHES, and her lyrical commentary of modern-day life, love, and psychology (she cites Carl Jung as an inspiration for the project) is reminiscent of Marina Diamandis’ craft. After being pushed back, CollXtion I is now slated for an April 14th release, but we’re Xtremely confident that it will be well worth the wait.

Words by Megan LaPierre

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