What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring synth-pop artist Allie X.
It’s fair to call Allie X both a musical artist as well as a performance artist. Her sophomore EP, Super Sunset, was accompanied by three distinct personas to represent different parts of her artistic journey: the nun, the Hollywood starlet, and sci-fi girl. Today at The Verge, it’s sci-fi girl who sits in front of us. Sporting a severe bowl haircut and tiny sunglasses that barely cover Allie X’s slate-colored eyes, this is the final form of Allie X’s journey through Super Sunset. It’s the persona she feels is truest to her actual self because of the “emotional disconnect and the weirdness and the quirks” that come along with it.
To follow Super Sunset, Allie X has recently released Super Sunset Analog, a collection of live performances and synth-centric remakes of Super Sunset songs. These versions are stripped down, re-recorded with a live band and drum machines that impart some brasher sounds and a delightful sense of chaos. While the remakes can be streamed everywhere, it’s also, in keeping in form with the analog flavor, available to order as a cassette tape.
Below, Allie X speaks with The Verge about her Super Sunset personas, and the minimal contents of her bag.
Tell me about these personas that you’ve created for your most recent record.
The personas are all representations of parts of myself that I’ve become through my journey moving to Los Angeles and living in Los Angeles for the last five years. So, the first one is called the nun. She represents the rawness and the passion and spiritual side of being an artist and what gets you into it. That’s kind of how I kind of picture myself arriving to LA and stepping off the plane at LAX. Bright-eyed and nun-like.
I read something you said about the purity of creating the work.
Exactly. Purity is a word I forgot to say just now. She represents pure art. But then of course when you try to monetize something that comes from that and you put yourself into an industry built around it, it changes your perception of everything. And then that would take me to the Hollywood starlet. She’s... kind of delusional. She’s got that Hollywood Vaseline on the lens, like “I’m gonna be a big star” and takes it too far, almost into a grotesqueness. That represents all the fakeness when you’re trying to make it. And then the third persona is the one I’m dressed as today — sci-fi girl. She’s the one I think I relate the most to because she represents all the emotional disconnect and the weirdness and the quirks that I naturally have in myself that I’ve focused in on for the Allie X project.
What are your influences for sci-fi girl? And I’m glad that she’s with us today!
People always think about me that there’s this side I have within myself that’s... I don’t want to say otherworldly because it sounds too complimentary. It’s more just like I don’t know. Did you ever see David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth? It’s almost like that kind of a thing where something’s not quite connected or human.
What was the process like to write Super Sunset?
I wrote it really quickly. I think normally when I write it’s more abstract. It’s going into my unconscious mind and trying to dig up things from the past. This one was such a direct concept that it came together really quickly. It was nice writing from that perspective because I had a lot to get off my chest.
Well I’d love to see what’s in your bag!
Do you want this tea in it?
I kind of like that tea... yes, with your lipstick on it. So you work with Ableton and another song writing software, right?
So you’re truly self-contained on your computer.
Yeah, kind of. I think in my dream world I become such a proficient producer that I can do everything by myself, but these days it’s really a collaboration.
You have two main collaborators, is that correct?
Yeah. There’s one guy who finishes everything with me, and cleans up the mess that I make. And then there’s one guy who makes the mess with me for the record! With other ones it’s been different.
I’d love a shot of you up close. [Starts taking photos] Your eyebrows are perfect.
They’re half real and half blocked.
Okay, so first tell me about this Coach bag. Where did you get it?
I got it in Nordstrom... or was it in Macy’s? This is actually the first nice bag I’ve bought for myself. My mom is a purse person and a shoe person, and so historically I’ve always taken her bags and her shoes.
That’s a good move.
But I was at a Taylor Swift concert because my friend Troye Sivan was singing with her. It was a last minute thing. At the time I had this purse I got from my mom. It was backpack style, but as small as this. Troye was about to perform and I was like, “I have to get in, I’m his friend!” They said I couldn’t go in with a backpack. It’s a purse! We had this really heated argument and they said I could only come in if I emptied the contents. So I put everything — all the contents — in a Ziploc bag, hid the backpack behind the garbage, and hoped it would be there when I came back. And it wasn’t. Someone had thrown it out. So I thought, I’m a grown woman, I’m going to buy myself a designer bag for the first time. And that’s how I got this bag.
Congratulations, I think it’s a great moment when you purposefully buy a bag.
I feel like I’m like a lady now. I had so many years of being broke and now I can get by, so I celebrated with a nice bag.
I’m in love with this. [Picks up wallet]
It’s a really water-damaged wallet. And there’s a comb for the wig, some glasses, and an extra pair of glasses.
These are great. Let’s take some more things out.
Lipstick, pills, phone charger, a tampon.
And what kind of phone do you have?
I think this is a 6S? Is that right? It’s cracked. I need to get a new one.
And it doesn’t have a case. You’re a brave woman.
[Laughing] I know, I know. That’s why it’s cracked. I’m starting to analyze the contents of my purse and think about how people are going to interpret them. This wallet looked so much better when I got it. I think I’ve had too many things spill on it.
Where did you get it?
The wallet was a gift for my birthday a couple years ago from Jungle George.
Tell me a bit about your tour.
I guess the best thing to call them would be fan events. They’re very small, intimate shows where we will be playing through the record live. We do a Q&A, meet and greet, and it’s a chance for fans to hear the record before it all comes out and to officially start the journey of Super Sunset.
Have you always been an iPhone person?
For the last 10 years, maybe. Actually, less than that. It’s been maybe six or seven years. I think I got my first iPhone before I moved to LA.
Would you say the phone is your essential tech item?
That and my laptop. I’ve almost lost my laptop by leaving it in a restaurant two or three times and I really lose my shit. I really freak out because it has so many things that are valuable to me on it.
Do you utilize the cloud or external drives or anything like that?
I do. I back up on the cloud and then I have hard drives as well. I’m not as diligent about that as I should be, but back things up every few months.
I think a lot of us are like that. Good intentions, and as long as it’s happening occasionally it’s enough. What in particular do you carry on this drive?
I don’t even have anything too important on that. It’s more for when i’m in a room with a producer and they don’t have, for example, the right snare sound and I’m like, “Oh, I’ve got one on my computer, let me give it to you.” It’s a vehicle in sessions to get things from my computer to someone else or vice-versa.
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