The intangible dichotomy between opposites is what pulses at the heartbeat of Allie X’s music. Visually and aurally, the mysterious Canadian singer-songwriter is an adept explorer of the shadowy canyons settled between light and dark, self and society. Allie herself is inherently poised at juxtaposition, creating pop music that is both cognitive and contagious.
In 2013, after knocking around the Toronto indie scene for a few years, Allie—frustrated with the local music culture’s unresponsiveness to her vision—made the leap to L.A. There, she finally found her footing as an unashamed emerging pop force.
“In Toronto, a lot of my friends were ‘indie’ musicians; you’d see them on Pitchfork and other cool blogs, and what I was doing didn’t really fit in,” she admits. “I wasn’t trying to be pop when I started out, but the fact is I just naturally write pop melodies. If a chorus isn’t soaring, I want it to be huge and soaring. When I moved to Los Angeles, I found there were many people that appreciate that sort of thing. It was liberating.”
A year later she released “Catch,” an airy electro-pop sparkler with a melodic, catchy chorus. Along with the music, Allie began to drop strange, hypnotic visuals and existential commentaries on her social media. Soon, Katy Perry was tweeting about her, and yes, even all those “cool blogs” were getting in on the action. Despite the hype, however, the artist maintains that catalyzing thought-provoking discourse is been the primary objective.
“The goal of [the Allie X project] is to purely release music that people can enjoy and to raise questions about our existence, and grapple with those questions in a public sphere,” Allie says. “The way to have a conversation is to engage with the public, and I think the easiest way to do that on Internet is through creative means. I always want it to be an interactive project.”
Of course, communication raises the question of privacy, a concept that the artist has explored through the cryptic means by which she has shielded many of her personal details (particularly her identity and age) from the prying fingers of curious Googlers. On navigating the TMI culture of social media, she considers, “It really comes down to what I put out there, and I have only put out art that is very limited in personal information. As with any relationship, it takes time to become comfortable enough to really get to know that person, and I look at my relationship with the public in the same way. But with my album, I am revealing elements of my personal life. It is autobiographical in a very symbolic, very abstract way.”
This of course brings us to the ubiquitous “X,” a letter and symbol which not only exists as part of the artist’s moniker, but also serves as a broader representation of Allie’s perspective as a woman in a constant state of flux and flow. She postulates, “‘X’ is any possible variable of an unknown quantity. Thus, it’s the identity that I take on as I try to figure out who I am and as I try to find my whole self.”
On her debut album CollXtion I, released this past spring, this theme of “self” is a major focus, as the record explores the ideas of duality, alter-egos, and what it means to truly know oneself. “In this first chapter of ‘X,’ a girl is born with a unique relationship with her shadow,” she explains. “The girl and the shadow have two things in common: one is singing, and the other is spinning. The ‘big spin’ happens in Chapter I where they spin so fast that they switch places. The girl ends up in shadow world and the shadow ends up in the real world. The story is of the many struggles that ensue, and also of how the girl and her shadow reunite.”
As the experimental electro-pop artist continues to search for herself within her music, perhaps we, too, will figure her out as well. Until then, Allie X remains a shrouded mystery.