CXLOE (AUS) on her latest single “Low Blow”, the L.A. lifestyle and her debut album.

CXLOE hails from Sydney’s northern beaches, but has been making waves well beyond those shores. She broke into the pop market with her debut single “Tough Love” in 2017 and solidified herself as an artist not to mess with when she followed it up with hits “Monster” and “Show You”. Her tracks regularly spin on Triple J, Nova, 2DayFM and KIIS, and have made worldwide Spotify playlists.

Having just completed a small headline tour and about to embark on the journey of her debut album’s release, we got to chat to CXLOE on a rainy day about her success and her latest single, “Low Blow”.

How are you doing, CXLOE? Where are you right now?

Good. I’m just in Newport. Actually, I just got back from Bali, and yeah, back in Newport. That’s where I live with my partner. It’s good to be home, but this weather isn’t the nicest.

How crap is this weather? Oh, my God. Compared to Bali, you’d be so sad right now.

Oh, I know. Yeah, I mean, Bali is super hot. I don’t know. Sometimes I kind of like this weather because it’s just like… It’s just kind of cozy. But yeah, I come back from Bali, and it’s a real shock.

Yeah. I like this weather because you don’t feel guilty about watching movies in this weather. You’re like there’s literally nothing I can do.

Oh, my gosh. You know what? That’s actually probably was the answer that I was going to say. But you’re right. It’s like you start feeling guilty for doing nothing. That’s so funny.

All right, CXLOE, let’s talk about you. So, you mentioned that you grew up in Sydney’s northern beaches, in an Italian family full of pharmacists. That’s wild. How did you come to the realisation that music was like a possible career for you?

I think I have a really supportive family. I mean, Italians are very passionate people. And I think when they see someone enjoying themselves in something, they want them to kind of just go for it. But it’s also quite, like contradictory because also Italians are very like stern, and you kind of got to do what, you know, they… You stick in the family, and you do what everyone does, and they’re very all really supportive, and they’re all kind of just like, “The pharmacy will always be here, but you know, making music won’t, so just go for it.” And so, that was really cool growing up because I never felt like I had to just do what everyone else was doing?

Did your family help you patch together how to get your career started and things like that? Because I imagine parents would be pretty instrumental at a young age of being like, “Okay. Like, you like music, let’s do it.” But they wouldn’t know the industry.

I mean, but they were great with the learning. Like, you know, I went to a performing arts school for a bit. And I did the talent shows and the talent quest things, and like the music lessons, but I think it was after high school, or it was like that was all that they could really help with. And then, it was really just up to me because the hardest thing was that there was no road. Like there really isn’t like a A, B, C to do the music thing. And so, I auditioned for Berklee. That’s a music college in Boston, and I got a scholarship.

And then, I was kind of like it seems like the easy… not the easy. I don’t mean it would be an easy thing to do, but it was kind of just like, “Oh, you could do this, and you could have a routine and structure in your life.” But I knew that it kind of wasn’t really what I should be doing, and so I didn’t take it. And I went to LA, and I just started writing, and kind of like finding anyone to work with that I could.

Oh, wow! So, what age were you when you started to do your trips to LA? Was it 16, I heard?

Yeah! Yeah! It was just before… I started doing some trips before I finished school, which was… Yeah, I was probably about like 17. And then, I finished school, and then that’s when I started to do like three months over there. And then, I came back and worked at the pharmacy and earned money, and then, went back and for another three months. And I did that for a few years.

LA is such a daunting place to go at such a young age like that. How did you like tee up all these writing sessions? You you would’ve been a lost soul.

Oh, it was… You know, you get involved with some people who say that they can, you know, take you the full way, and all that. And it doesn’t really end up that way. But then, you meet some people. And then you hang onto those people. And then, you kind of meet a few more people, and then… But for a lot of it, I was doing most of the writing because I couldn’t really get in rooms with anyone. So, that was how I really had to learn to write on my own because I wished that I knew that no one would jump in the room with me. So, that was kind of like an interesting way to like to learn, I think. Just like being on your own and not having anyone else there. But, yeah. It was really daunting. It’s just such a scary city. It’s so different to home. It’s just so eccentric and wild, and you kind of like… especially like in like a prime growing up stage around like you just finished high school, and you’re just like, “What am I doing with my life?” to then be like thrown into LA. It was kind of a bit of a scary adventure.

Yeah, it’s a pretty formative couple of years straight out of high school of like solidifying who you are as a human, not only starting a career and like seeing all these other people in LA. That’d be daunting.

Yeah, it was. Yeah, it was definitely a weird combo to kind of be like, “Cool. Like you’re at a high school. Like a month ago you had to put your hand up to go to the bathroom, and now you’re in LA, and trying to bring yourself up.”

It’s very like Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA” sort of vibe I see. Like that’s what I imagine you hopping off the plane at LAX.

No. Oh, my God. So not even like that at all. It’s like hopping off the plane at LAX, and then trying to find like an Uber with no Wifi, and then trying to find your Airbnb. And that’s so not glamorous at all.

Oh, man. So, you mentioned it before that you started writing in a solo aspect. But that’s good though. You can get all the like crappy songs out of the way. You can figure out your own method and process, rather than having a lot of big wigs in the room which, you know, could be nervous around.

100 per cent. Yeah, that was really, I think, good to go out on my own for a bit, and also figure out who I actually wanted to be. I started… I did like a little folk music, because I love Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell, and stuff like that. So, I like started doing that. And then, I was like, “Mm, this isn’t the real me. I feel like I’m a bit more deeper and like complex.” And so, then I went and I did like urban a bit for a while. And then, I did like dance a bit. And then, I found… And then, I came back to pop. Like I did like a full circle. So, it was good because I could figure out what I liked, and what I didn’t really like. So, I think it was really imperative that I did do that, and I did it on my own, because they didn’t have anyone being like, “Well, you should do this. You should do this, because this is current right now.” I just kind of did where I felt like I belong?

Yeah. And so, your tone is quite a dark pop tone which, I think… Pop is such a hard genre to be a trailblazer in, but I think you’re doing almost an exemplary version of it.

Ah, thanks. That, honestly, means a lot because you’re right. It’s so tricky. Pop is such a weird word, because a lot of people are like drawn away from it. And to kind of like run your own race in the pop land, it is really risky, and I’ve definitely been a bit scared of it. But everyone’s being really supportive, which I’m very grateful for.

Absolutely. Well, let’s talk about your music. Congrats on the new single, “Low Blow”, that came out last month.

Thanks. Oh, thanks so much. I’m so excited to have it out.

Tell me about that song, because I heard the themes in it were in relation to some experiences, particularly in LA.

Yeah, I mean, in the song like I reference kind of like a special relationship. But I think for like the wider meaning of the song… I mean, you can really relate it to anything. It’s kind of when you put your heart on the line, and you’re super vulnerable, and then someone just like hits you in the gut out of nowhere, and like… And you don’t even see it coming, and it’s like a low blow, essentially. And I feel like in LA, they have been like more than often. It’s like, especially with labels and meeting new people, and people wanting to work with you, and it’s like you put your heart on the line, especially if your music is so personable. And then, a lot of the time you start to develop these like relationships, and then they’re like, “Okay, no. Just kidding. Bye.” And you’re like, “Sick.”

You just like put your everything into this, and opened yourself up to a new maybe road or relationship, and it just doesn’t happen. And, actually, I found that really hard because I really put all of myself into everything I do. It’s like zero or a hundred. That’s me. And I’m trying to love that part about myself, but that’s where a lot of the time I hate it because I wish I could just keep some for myself. But I do, I give a lot of myself, and… Yeah. And so I’ve kind of just… I’ve been… I felt like the blows have hit harder because of that.

Mm. But it’s also just about being human, you know? Like when you feel pain, you feel hurt, you’re like, “Wow! Like I put my heart on the line just then. Like I opened myself up.” This is good that you’re feeling, because you’ve taken a risk, you know?

Entirely, but it’s like between the States, I mean, they’re just not human. Like they don’t care. They’re just ruthless. And so, you’re like “Okay, cool, I’m trying to be an artist, got to be sensitive, blah, blah. But I’m also… I’m independent, and I’m trying to also be like a businessman.” So, the two just don’t mix well. Luckily, I’ve got a great management team behind me and everything, who really help with that. But it’s just you are human. That is exactly right. And sometimes I’m like, maybe I’m not cut out for this because I do… Like it does hurt because it’s your product. It’s you that you’re trying to sell? But, I don’t know, I’m growing a really thick skin. I’m growing a really thick skin, trying not to become a cold person, but I’ve definitely got a thick skin.

Well, it’s so necessary in the industry. But you were saying whether or not you’re cut out for it. And I mean like Low Blow is your fifth single, and everything that you’ve released thus far has just been on a steep upwards trajectory. So, you’re definitely cut out for it, if anything.

Oh, thank you so much. That, honestly, means a lot. I’m like… I don’t know. It’s weird. You know, I watched Rocket Man the other day, and then Bohemian Rhapsody, and I’m seeing like these artists who’ve… They put out like great songs and everything, but then it comes to like the actual lifestyle and the living, that’s what it was like deprecate. That’s what’s really deprecating?

So, it’s been really interesting to see that. And I don’t know, it’s good just for me because I’m kind of seeing how I can make it more sustainable for myself. Because I’m like in this, and like I’m in this for the long haul, and I think, you know, the blows are going to keep coming, but I just need to figure out how to still make it an enjoyable experience for me. Otherwise, you’re just like going to end up resenting it. So ,I feel like I’ve got a good little balance, a good group of people around me, which I’m very grateful for.

Yeah, it’s definitely a hard lifestyle to navigate, particularly because there’s not a lot of stability. Like are you based in LA now, or are you based in Australia? Where is home?

Oh, my gosh. No stability. Yeah, so I’m back and forth. I just got back from New York like two weeks ago. And then, I’m heading back again to LA very soon, so… Yeah, there isn’t a lot of stability, but I probably spend half the time in LA, and then half the time I’m in Australia just because like I’m doing a lot of shows back here. So yeah, there isn’t a lot of stability. But you’ve just got to find a stability in like the people around you? I’ve got like a good close group of friends in both Australia and the States. So, that’s kind of like a constant, as much as you can call it that. But yeah. No, it’s very… It’s ever-changing.

Super necessary though to surround yourself with good people. You mentioned that you’ve done a couple of Australian shows. You did your first headline tour, a a two-date headline tour back in May. How did that go?

I did! It was like a mini little tour. It was so fun. I just did Sydney and Melbourne. And it was… Yeah, they were the best shows. They were just like, it was really cool because I’ve put off doing it for a bit because I was so nervous that no one would come. And I’m so dumb because it was just like… I don’t know, it was just like perfect. It was so much fun. Like how many people were there, and it was just like a really good time. And I think I stressed over like nothing a lot of the times. But it was… Yeah, it was so, so good. I’m so glad I did it. So, we’re going to be doing some more, and we’re already looking in the venues and stuff. So, yeah. It’s really good. I’m glad I ended up doing it.

Oh, yay! I would be keen to see a more extensive tour. Would there be a body of work to back that tour up?

Yes, yes. Yeah. I, honestly, have enough songs for a great hit album. It’s just so funny. Like I don’t know the climate at the moment, with releasing singles. I think we’re just kind of done that just because I’m a new artist, and it’s, you know, a lot of people, you know, indulging in albums… It’s funny, not many people have like the time. But I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s just like more digestible with the singles. But I think now that I’ve released a few singles, it’s the perfect time for putting your work. And I’m so happy with the songs that I’ve written, and I feel like they’re super cohesive, and it tells like a really nice story. So, yeah. I’m so excited to get that out finally.

Do you have a timeline for that? Do you have a rough fraction of the year we could expect it in?

I think… Probably like… I reckon mid/late end of the year. Probably like maybe August, out and around then. I’ve got all the songs. I’ve got more than all the songs. So, were just figuring out the track listing and everything now.

Okay, cool. And then, you’ll pop some on to the next album to follow it up with. We’ve just got a whole ball rolling. I love it.

Yes, never stops!

I also just wanted to quickly chat about, while I’ve got you… You’re an independent artist, which I think is pretty important to mention. Talk to me about that decision of not signing a record deal. Is that something you’d do in the future or was that-

Well, it’s funny because like a lot of it is my decision to not… to keep my independence, like the vast majority of it. But also, it’s kind of, you know, like out of… A lot of people think it’s just solely your decision, but it’s not. Like a lot of the time, it’s like you get these terrible deals given to you, and you’re just not going to sign them. So, it’s kind of like when people are like, “Oh, you’ve chosen to stay independent.” It’s kind of like, “Well, yeah, I have, but I’ve also haven’t really been given the choice.” You know, I think I know my worth and I’m at an age where I know that I’ve worked hard, and I know that I’ve earned a certain standard and so, I think it’s great being independent. And I’m loving the freedom because I’m a control freak in the way of sound, and how I want my project to be portrayed and everything. But it’s also like I’m not going to hand over my project to something that isn’t worth it. And to retain that, you know, it’s kind of just wanting to sign because they just want to get you on their books.

So, it’s a really weird balance. And, you know, like I encourage like all artists who are starting out, to stay independent, because I know a lot of my peers who were just signed very very early on are so unhappy because they don’t get a choice in that, what they found is, or because they didn’t develop it enough, or stuff like that. And so, you know, I’ve just become an APRA Ambassador, which is really cool. So, I’m trying to talk to as many, you know, up-and-coming artists as I can, just to, you know, just saying that you don’t have to stay independent forever, but just do it at an early stages where you’re trying to figure out your sound, and figure, “Who do you want to work with?” and stuff like that. It’s really good just to keep that for yourself.

Yeah. I think it’s important to be autonomous at the beginning, so you can really shape your own image and things. So that way, when it does come into the hands of someone else, they don’t have too much that they can change because it’s solid.

Exactly. Because it’s pretty solid. You know, they’re going to sign you for who you are, whether you’re, you know, so-called indie or you like to wear orange for everything you do. Like they can’t change that because you’ve already kind of solidified that.

Personal branding.

Yeah, exactly.

Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today, CXLOE.

No, thank you. Thank you so much for jumping in the court. It’s been really, really nice to talk to you. It’s also pretty therapeutic for me to talk through it as well, sometimes, with someone.

Oh, any time, any time. Any time you need a therapeutic chat, I’m just a phone call away, happily.

Oh, thank you.

I look forward to the album when that drops, and I’ll have to catch you on this bigger tour.

Thanks! I know, I know. Definitely. Hopefully, very soon.

CXLOE‘s latest single “Low Blow” is out now.

Tait McGregor