THE MANY FACES OF ALLIE X

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photos/ Rachel Thalia Fisher

styling /Lizzy Rosenberg @ See Management

makeup/Angel Gabriel @See Management

hair/ Yevgeniya Kozlova 

story/ Rachel R. Carroll

 

Allie X’s Girl With No Face (out now on Twin Music) is a door to another world. Filled with strobing synths and powerful bass lines, the album is an invitation: onto the dance floor, into musical eras of the past, and into the recesses of Allie X’s mind as she fearlessly follows her thoughts down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Called “a brilliantly bonkers thrill-ride” by The Line of Best Fit, this album leans into the avant-garde tendencies already so pronounced on Cape God and earlier works from Allie X, the professional name of Alexandra Hughes. Ultimately, the record recalls New Wave or electro-pop moments from the 80’s, but all with X’s unique current spin. 

 

Though Allie X certainly demonstrated a wide variety of her creative skills in the creation of this album, when she sat down to discuss her process with us, she admitted one of the things she was most proud of wasn’t necessarily a creative element of the album at all. “What I’m proud of is that I managed the project,” she said when we spoke, “I took it from the place that it was in in 2020 to the place that it’s in now, which might not seem all that different, but things are actually a lot cleaner. And they’re profitable now,” she added with a laugh. Additionally, this project was entirely self-produced, a first for Hughes. “[Producing] was sort of a brand new skillset I had to learn. There were a lot of technical skills that I lacked and a lot that I still lack, but I managed to find my way. I had to be brave,” she admitted.

 

tank, skirt, & boots. Aknvas

tank, skirt, & boots. Aknvas

 

Bravery is an undercurrent of the project, which Hughes described as somewhat defiant. “I think I know now how truly rebellious [the album] was. I had guesses about that, but the fan reaction and the new people that have been attracted to me as a result of this [album] coming out have made me see it as a bold and rebellious piece of work.” Hughes says a key to this rebellion was trying not to worry too much about the industry side of music while creating the record. “I think what’s interesting is the impulse to grapple with [commercial marketability] is largely influenced by people who are not fans,” Hughes explains, “It’s largely influenced by the people on the teams and at the label and whoever, the people who aren’t consuming the music or have any creative instincts. What I’ve learned is that those people have their place, but it is a small place. These are just people who are making money on my work and all other artist’s work and you should never take them that seriously.” She carried on to express the futility of inauthenticity anyway: “Children today are smart,” she exclaimed, “they have taste! They’re cultured, and they’re interested in what’s new and exciting. I think there’s more success to be had in taking risks.”

Risk is something that Hughes knows intimately, especially when it comes to taking her music on the road. There’s a bright passion that takes over her voice when she talks about the live show she and her band are putting together for the North American tour of this record that was announced recently: “I feel so unhinged and free seeing this music on stage,” Hughes said, “This record is so fun live. I think because of the New Wave and the post-punk influence it’s got this sort of rock backbone that I didn’t even realize was there in the recordings.” But as excited as she is to perform, she acknowledges that whenever she undertakes a tour, she does so “with fingers crossed.”

 

blazer, jacket & pants. Issey Miyake. shoes. Aknvas

 

Hughes has dealt with a chronic autoimmune condition for over twenty years, which she says puts her in a unique position in her career field. “You don’t meet many people working as artists that have been bedridden for half their life,” she quips. After having canceled live performances in the past due to her health, she’s made peace with the reality of the situation: “I can’t predict when my body’s gonna not work,” she pointed out. “That’s a huge pressure because I don’t wanna disappoint. So at this moment, I’m putting a lot of work into making a great tour, and at some point, I’ll start putting those payments down and investing money in it, and I have to hope for the best.”

This blunt honesty and vulnerability is certainly one of the aspects of Hughes’ work that has gained Allie X a loyal, cult-like following. Another is undoubtedly the humor; tracks like “Off With Her Tits” or “You Slept On Me” offer bitingly satirical commentaries on life in the public eye, particularly life as a woman or gender non-conforming person. But as thoughtful and reflective as the album is about larger issues, it never sacrifices its dancefloor energy. As the very first track on this album states, Allie X lives in a weird world, and we’re lucky to have been let into it even briefly through this record.

dress & shoes. Stella McCartney. tights. Wolford. jewelry. Alexis Bittar

dress & shoes. Issey Miyake. hat. Binata Millinery. gloves. Dolce & Gabbana

dress. Melitta Baumeister. shoes. Issey Miyake.

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