At the age of 14, Charli began recording her debut album. Two singles, "!Franchesckaar!" and double A-side "Emelline"/"Art Bitch", were released in late 2008 under Charli's own label, Orgy Music. The album, 14, featuring the former single, was never commercially released, although several promotional copies were issued.
In 2011, she featured on two singles, "End of the World" by Alex Metric, and "Lost in Space" by Starkey. In May 2011, she released her first single in nearly three years, "Stay Away", followed by "Nuclear Seasons" in November, both produced by Ariel Rechtshaid and released exclusively in the UK. These singles gained attention from Pitchfork Media, where she gained Best New Track accolades for both tracks, with the former being ranked #35 on their Best Tracks of 2011 list.In late 2011, a five-track promotional sampler of Charli's debut album surfaced. All tracks were early demos, including an early version of "You're the One", titled "In the Dark"
2012–present: You're the One, international breakthrough and True Romance
Charli XCX (2012)
In February 2012, Charli released two free tracks, the holiday-themed "Valentine" and "I'll Never Know" through her website. Charli XCX wrote and provided two tracks including "How Can I?" for the indie horror movie called Elfie Hopkins starring Ray Winstone and his daughter Jaime Winstone. She also released two free mixtapes via SoundCloud, containing tracks by her female and male influences, the first titled Super Girls, Super Love and the second entitled I Like Boys Who Cry. On 12 May 2012, she released her first original mixtape, titled Heartbreaks and Earthquakes, a one-track file consisting of eight songs, including "How Can I?". She supported Santigold and Coldplay on tour throughout summer.
On June 12, 2012, Charli released her debut EP You're the One in the US, featuring "You're the One" and "Nuclear Seasons", as well as remixes of both tracks. On June 14, "You're the One" was released as her debut single in Australia. The EP was later released in September in the UK and Australia, the UK version featuring the title track and "So Far Away", as well as three remixes. The Australian version contained the title track, "Stay Away", and "Nuclear Seasons". The Australian edition was also the only version of the EP to be released physically on CD. Her second original mixtape, Super Ultra was released exclusively through her website on 7 November 2012, featuring 8 separate tracks. She wrote and was featured on Icona Pop's song "I Love It", which became a breakthrough hit for both artists, reaching the top 10 in numerous countries and serving as the theme song for Snooki & JWoww. She is to tour America and Canada with friend and fellow singer Marina and the Diamonds throughout May. Charli is then to support singer Ellie Goulding on a Europe tour of Germany, Poland, Italy, Switzerland and Dublin throughout April with her own UK tour to follow soon after which is to be announced. In March 2013, Charli XCX was named one of Fuse TV's 30 must-see artists at SXSW. Her debut album, True Romance was released on 12 April 2013. On 1 May, 2013 Marina And The Diamonds and Charli published a song called "Just Desserts" on their Youtube pages. The song was posted as a free download on both of their Soundcloud pages.
In June 2013, Charli confirmed she was working on her second (or technically, third) album. Also in June, "Illusions Of", a track by J£ZUS MILLION featuring Charli XCX, was released as a single from Double Denim Vol. 1, a compilation of artists signed to Double Denim Records