Features September 27, 2018

Almost Famous: CXLOE’s alter-ego is ready to show you who’s boss

Almost Famous: CXLOE’s alter-ego is ready to show you who’s boss
Picture: Tiff Williams

“It’s hot and busy, and I feel like I haven’t stopped since the last time I saw you,” says CXLOE, after dialling into our second interview. She’s in an Uber in Hollywood making her way from one songwriting session to another.

TMN first spoke to Aussie pop’s next big thing moments before she walked on stage at BIGSOUND to convince even the harshest of music critics that Chloe Papandrea means business.

“There was a line out the door, and it was one in, one out, which was so cool. I never really thought I could do that.”

She needn’t be surprised though. Many in the industry, including key decision makers at triple j and commercial radio, are already onboard. As happenstance would have it – a few hours before her Wednesday night showcase at Family in Brisbane – CXLOE came face to face with one of her biggest champions at radio for the first time: triple j music director Nick Findlay.

“Growing up here I always dreamed of being on triple j and that was my goal. I remember when we released Tough Love because I got a premiere, which was sick, and it got added to Unearthed, and it was more than I could ever, ever imagine.”

If you ask CXLOE who her biggest industry supporters are she’s quick to point out APRA AMCOS.

“[I have] a million mates at APRA. Even over here in LA, APRA has been so ridiculously supportive of me. Spotify and Apple have as well.

“When I put my music up, as an independent artist you want to be on the playlists and everything, but it’s hard because labels have already secured that position. So they’ve been incredible to me as well.”

Latest single Show You peaked at #57 on the TMN Hot 100 two weeks ago and remains on the chart at #60 this week, also appearing at #43 on the local Shazam Chart and #65 on iTunes Australia.

A quick skim of TMN‘s Hot 100 Airplay Chart is revealing. Australian music is having a much needed moment in the spotlight.

Commercial radio is again beginning to embrace homegrown artists like Ruel, Wafia, Carmouflage Rose, GLADES, Tyron Hapi, and CXLOE is undeniably part of this promising wave of exciting new voices making their way onto playlists around the country.

“They’re playing all genres of Australian music [on the radio] right now,” says CXLOE, who describes her genre as “dark pop”. Forgoing a surname, She added the X to appease her alter ego and to keep her mental health in check.

“Mental health and balance are really important especially in this industry, and by having those two personalities I can just dip into them when I need to and dip out when I have to and when I feel like I can’t really handle anymore.

“You’ve met me, I probably come off a little differently and some of my lyrics are quite forward, and strong and a bit edgy. I wanted to put that into song form, and into the art form, so putting an X in my name was a good way to do that and to differentiate the two personalities.”

Growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, before Chloe Papandrea transformed into the brand we now know as CXLOE, she hustled her early demos to the team at Mushroom-backed management and publishing company, Young & Vicious (Y&V). Eventually, they took notice.

“I organised for CXLOE to come in and perform off the back of some demos Andy [Hawkins] had sent over from Sydney,” recalls Y&V co-founder Stephen “Chips” McGuire. “Out of everyone I’d been seeing there was just something different about her. Within a week we were planning her first Y&V writing trip back to LA, and within a month we’d signed her.”

The next step for Chips was a co-manager. “Sarah [Donelly] and I had been talking about partnering on something for ages, and as soon as I heard the first set of new LA demos, I called Sarah and said: ‘We found her…’

“That was over three years ago – turns out we were right!”

Chips and Donelly have been busy building an all-star team around the fully independent artist, including Vanessa Picken at digital agency Comes With Fries and live agent Matt Thomson at Niche Productions, who last week secured CXLOE the Australian support for Maroon 5’s upcoming Red Pill, Blue Pill arena tour.

“The team at Niche are amazing. I only just signed and now I’ve got the Maroon 5 support, so I feel like it’s going to be a very fun tour.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Sunday Morning in every different key with every different instrument. That’s definitely a big thing for me.”

If the last few weeks are anything to go by, the coming months for CXLOE will be a whirlwind schedule of touring, writing and recording. And it’s evident when talking to her that she’s savouring every moment as she edges closer to the tipping point of breakthrough success.

“I’m going back to South by Southwest and then I’ll be back in Australia, and King Princess has just been announced as well which is really cool. So I’ve got that and then I’ve got the Carmouflage Rose tour and then I go back to LA.

“I’ve got a bunch of writing that I’m doing here just to get back in the studio for a little bit before I’m back home and then I’ll be in rehearsals for Maroon 5.”

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