Allie X follows The Weeknd's path to mysterious pop intrigue
Electro-pop album CollXtion I doubles as a multimedia project including comic books, art exhibit
Toronto-raised pop artist Allie X has carefully cultivated an air of secretive mystery, speaking of her upbringing sparingly and somewhat reluctantly.
The soft-spoken songwriter insists, however, that she is gradually revealing more of herself — she's just doing it at her own pace.
"My relationship with the public I want to be very much like any other relationship, where you get to know each other a bit before you reveal information," she said in a recent telephone interview.
"In my way, I am revealing personal information, with the story that I'm telling."
She's referring to the "abstractified auto-biography" of CollXtion I, a short electro-pop album that doubles as an ambitious multimedia, multi-part project spanning comic books, graphics, videos, digital installations and even a physical exhibit (titled XHIBIT), upcoming at Montreal's Phi Centre.
The opaque mythology surrounding the seven-song set and accompanying series (which Allie predicts will be five parts) is probably best explained by her: "It's the story of a girl who spins so hard that she becomes separated from her shadow and they reverse worlds, so the shadow is in the quote-unquote real world, pretending to be real, and the girl is stuck in the shadow world."
"The story of X will be about their journey to reunite," she added.
That elaborate backstory is starkly contrasted by the straight-forward impact of Allie X's sleekly futuristic pop, which could hardly be more immediate.
After bouncing around the Toronto indie scene, Allie shifted to Los Angeles and spent years polishing her chops as a songwriter. Classically trained as a pianist and singer (one of the few personal details she's willing to confirm), she won a crucial early endorsement from Katy Perry, who tweeted that she was "obsessed" with Allie X's early single Catch.
That tune, a spurned-lover yarn loaded with medical imagery, reached Number 55 on the Canadian Billboard chart. That was a year ago, and Allie X spent the interim polishing her accompanying visuals, writing more music, and preparing her highly stylized look.
'Everything I do lacks balance'
And she realizes she's not the first new artist to use curated mysterylan as a PR strategy.
"The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey, I think they both got to sort of pioneer this new 'star is born of the Internet age' thing," she explained. "I won't deny that I was inspired by that."
Well, a little self-mythology can be a valuable thing to a performer still getting used to the stage.
Allie X does admit she's a "nervous person" who gets nervous onstage. But those nerves are not to be confused with a lack of confidence.
"In general, everything I do lacks a balance — it tends to be one extreme or the other, and this is no exception," she explained.
"I'm either cripplingly insecure or overly confident. My crippling insecurity, I battle it by being very confident in the work that I put out."