These days, it seems a pop artist must also be an artistic visionary to have an impact. A savant musician. A creator of interesting things. Case in point? Allie X, an emerging Canadian artist who exploded onto the scene with a 48-hour multimedia extravaganza at the Phi Center in Montreal, where she launched her first EP as Allie X, CollXtion I.
Allie X started life as Alexandra Ashley Hughes, a regular on the Toronto music scene where she enjoyed a modicum of success with the release of two albums, Ladies and Gentleman and Waiting for the Prize. Dissatisfied with what she was producing, she went back to the drawing board. She studied sound design and music production and spent two years cocooned in her shoebox apartment, writing music and perfecting her sound before she emerged onto the LA music scene in 2013 – a butterfly complete.
Her music is complemented by strong visual elements that include original artwork, boundary-pushing videos and spinning GIFs. When asked what is fuelling this new age of music and art, she replies: “In a word, the internet. It’s turned the music world on its head in negative and positive ways – the positive being that there is a lot of artist empowerment. You can become a star in your bedroom on your own YouTube channel. I think by putting more power into the artist’s hands, it’s changed the parameters of how weird you can be with the work you put out.”
Although Allie X regularly converses with her fans online, she remains a fiercely cloistered person. Her eyes are usually hidden behind a pair of oversized sunglasses or her hair is draped across her face. Even her chosen name ‘X’ comes from the algebraic expression of the unknown: “I want people to take on X as their own identity and not to become a part of my identity.”
As we meet and get to know each other, we’ll reveal more about ourselves and have a more vulnerable relationship. It is a dichotomy, though, because this project is about opening up your soul, but also remaining anonymous.
How will she overcome the problem of wanting to have a more personal relationship with her fans while still maintaining boundaries and privacy? “I think of it as a relationship like any other,” she says. “As we meet and get to know each other, we’ll reveal more about ourselves and have a more vulnerable relationship. It is a dichotomy, though, because this project is about opening up your soul, but also remaining anonymous.”
Perhaps the struggle for identity and anonymity is one that all artists go through as they transform, and are transformed by, the music world. But as we wait in anticipation for what comes next, let’s just hope that Allie X is able to keep her freak unique.
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and