When was the first time you felt X? If you’re wondering exactly what X is, we don’t know either. Allie X is the latest iteration in the career of Toronto born pop artist Alexandra Hughes.
After studying voice and piano at the Interlochen Arts Academy in the early 2000s, she released her first known album Ladies and Gentleman in 2006. Three years later, she appeared on the Canadian version of the BBC show “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” and began to receive widespread recognition throughout her home country. Then in 2010, she released a self-titled EP that showcased her foray into the world of pop music.
Reborn again as ALX in 2012, Hughes dropped a macabre synth-laden paean to a dead lover in “I Will Love You More.” From there she left Canada to ink a publishing deal out in Los Angeles and work with producers Billboard and Cirkut. Everything was set into motion rather quickly once Katy Perry tweeted a link to her 50+ million followers labeling X’s self-produced “Catch” as her spring jam.
Nearly a year after the initial release of “Catch,” Hughes is readying her debut EP Collxtion I for release on April 7.
But what is X?
X is the world in which the shadowy singer resides. Enigmatic and often cryptic posts have popped up at random intervals throughout the entire campaign to help fans deconstruct the artifice of the artist, one of which culminated in the release of a snippet of “Tumor” taken from the EP. The entire concept of the project revolves around collecting images, notes and GIFs that the artist releases through various channels to decipher X. The high-brow leanings of this project echo the conceptual of Lady Gaga’s Fame campaign, but with far less transparency to who X is as a person.
As an artist, X takes roots in human psychology. The jarring, almost seizure inducing video for “Catch” heavily employs Jung’s psychological theory of the shadow self and anima as well as genderless human bodies. The importance of this video to Hughes’ career makes far more sense once her musical background is explained. For the first time throughout the campaign, she removes her sunglasses and shows her eyes. The encapsulated butterfly escaping from her mouth at the tail end of the video is a metaphor for the reinvention and continuance of her career.
While Allie X is possibly Allie Hughes’ most successful project this far, this mysterious artist could very well change her stage name once again after X is completely revealed and release another album in the future. But for now, fall into the crystalline world of X and don’t look back.