Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
One look at CXLOE's music videos, and it's easy to see that she isn't afraid to explore her darker side. The Australian singer has been releasing music since 2017, and much of it falls into the blood-pumping but undeniably moody genre of "dark pop" alongside artists such as FKA Twigs and Charli XCX. Songs like "Sick" ("Give me something late at night/Love that's shiny that's a lie what I really like) and "I Can't Have Nice Things" ("Wish I could stay with you and/Love you in so many ways") are the epitome of sad girl music, but they're backed with a bass so strong that you can't help but set your feelings to the side and just dance.
CXLOE's newest song, "Devil You Don't," is just as moody as the others in her discography, but what makes it different is its careful and calculated balance between darkness and light. Both the song and its accompanying music video, premiering here on Refinery29, play with the concept of light. Its powerful, angsty lyrics purposely clash sonically with the bouncy sounds of the folk music that the Sydney singer-songwriter grew up with and aesthetically with the colourful blue sky and grassy green expanse of the Blue Mountains as its backdrop.
We talked to CXLOE about the conceptualization process for her latest single, her self-described "erraticness," and the musicians who have inspired her dark pop sound.
Refinery29: What's the backstory behind the "Devil You Don't"?
CXLOE: "I've always loved the saying 'better with the devil you know than the devil you don't.' In the music industry, there's people that you meet but don't actually know what they're capable of. And sometimes, it's better to not know what someone's capable of...
"I grew up listening to folk music, but I'd never really done a song with an acoustic guitar. I came into the session with the producer and the writer and told them that I wanted to lead with the acoustic guitar and then switch up in the chorus.
"In the music video, I didn't want to go my normal darker route. I wanted to emphasize the fact that it's better to go with the devil that you see — that's why the visuals are a lot lighter than most of the things I've done before. I really wanted to show the duality of a person through that sharp contrast."
The setting of the "Devil You Don't" video was absolutely gorgeous. What was filming that outdoors like?
"We shot the video in the middle of Australia, a few hours inland from Sydney in a place around the Blue Mountains. I'd never really shot a music video outside, so I wanted to utilize as much as I could. We went deep into the pine forest and then shot by that lake and on that farm. It was beautiful."
Are there any musicians that you feel have influenced your unique sound?
"When I was growing up, I listened to a lot of Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell, and I think the foundation of my songs are somewhat based on them. But sonically now, as CXLOE the artist? Probably Banks, Lykke Li, Tove Lo —they're kind of more of the world that I love and sit in presently. I draw a lot of inspiration from them, production-wise."
If you were to pick one CXLOE song that fully encompasses who you are as an artist and as a person, which would you pick?
"I would probably say 'Sick.' I feel a lot, and that's something I've always struggled with day to day. 'Sick' kind of encapsulates my erratic nature and wide range of things that I feel so deeply. Everything is an extreme. Like when I love, I want to be sick from love. When I'm sad, I'm really sad. And when I'm happy, I'm ecstatic! So that really sums up my personality and who I am."
What can fans look forward to from you in 2020 and beyond?
"I'm nervous but really excited, actually. I've never released an album before, but I will be releasing one early next year. And more performances and tours, of course!"
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.