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At her window seat in a restaurant, Victoria Hesketh is arguing down her mobile phone. Her voice is becoming increasingly heated. “I don’t want you to do that,” she snaps, before looking across the table and rolling her eyes, which are large and decorated with kohl and glitter. “I’m sorry,” she huffs. “This is so embarrassing.” This is not an entirely unexpected scenario. Under her stage name Little Boots, Hesketh, 25, is currently Britain’s most hotly tipped new artist, a recipient of critical garlands and huge commercial anticipation. She has just been named Sound Of 2012 in the annual BBC poll of music industry insiders, critics and broadcasters; previous winners have included Mika, Keane and 50 Cent - and look what happened to them. “She makes proper pop music, but with heart and soul and the energy of someone who’s really interested in making it. It has a real honest excitement about it. There’s a real range of ideas in her stuff, you hear it and think, there’s a lot of things this girl can do,” enthuses DJ Steve Lamacq, who thinks Hesketh could, if she wishes, become “this year’s Lily Allen, a big, accessible, glitzy, Heat magazine-championed pop star.” Furthermore, it’s all happened at lightning speed. A year ago, Hesketh was an ex-member of minor indie band Dead Disco, writing songs in her parents’ garage. She hadn’t even adopted the name Little Boots. She put her first song up on the internet in February, on an anonymous MySpace page, because she didn’t want her former bandmates to know what she was up to. By November, she was appearing on Later ... With Jools Holland, alongside Damon Albarn and Al Green. As Hesketh keeps pointing out, she hasn’t even released a record yet, at least not properly, just a couple of downloads and an old-fashioned seven-inch vinyl single, limited to 300 copies, and there’s been all this fuss, “people going, ooh, you’re the future of pop”. Under the circumstances, she might be forgiven for having her head turned by the attention, for throwing the occasional tantrum in an upscale restaurant and shouting at a record company underling down the phone. Except we’re not in an upscale restaurant, but Blackpool’s West Coast Rock Cafe, home to both the Che Guevara Revolutionary Chilli Burger and a fairly spotty collection of locally themed rock memorabilia: there’s a poster for the famous Stone Roses gig that took place at the nearby Empress Ballroom, a laminated review from the Blackpool Gazette and, as if to underline the potential transience of the fame Hesketh is fully expected to achieve, a sad little handbill for an acoustic gig by the former lead singer of briefly celebrated Britpoppers the Seahorses, for which tickets cost £1. What’s more, it’s not a record company underling on the phone, it’s her mother. Hesketh is keen to show me around Blackpool, in order to demonstrate her home town’s influence on her brand of electronic pop, which offers a strange, beguiling mixture of euphoria and melancholy: “Blackpool’s supposed to be this holiday place, but it’s actually quite dark and depressing when you live here, and I like pop songs to have a dark side, a little predicament so there’s something

else going on.” We’ve already been to a bizarre shop, half of which is devoted to cutesy sweatshirts and cushions featuring cartoons of dogs and cats, and the other half to fetishwear. “You see?” says Hesketh triumphantly, as we leave, her bearing a cutesy sweatshirt of a bichon frise. “Pretty dark.” Now her mum has, rather sweetly, offered to drive us around, but Hesketh doesn’t seem terribly keen on the idea. She took her mum and dad to Later ..., and they had “the day out of their lives”, but her dad kept putting Jools Holland off by waving at him and accidentally knocking over beer bottles while he was trying to do links to camera. She says her relatives are having some difficulty understanding her success. “Whenever I come home, they go, you should go on The X Factor, you should. It’d be really good for you. I’m like, the prize is a record deal. I’ve already got a record deal. They go, yeah, but if you got one with them, you’d really be going somewhere.” In any case, she tried that route to stardom years ago, auditioning for Pop Idol when she was 16, singing Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. “You have to queue for hours and then you go and see a producer. They don’t let you in front of the judges unless they think you’re amazing or you’re really crap so they can slate you. I got through three rounds, then I got chucked out and I cried. It was horrible. They get everyone in a hotel, hype you up, tell you that there’s a little pod with a camera in it, and if you want to cry and get emotional you can do it in there and make a fool of yourself. I was just a petrified little girl, I was really upset when I didn’t get in.” EAR CANDY SEPTEMBER 2012 | 14

She has, she admits, got a hugely unconventional musical CV which takes in everything from reality TV to a brief gig as a harpist in a Pink Floyd-influenced progressive rock band to a “souldestroying” stint playing jazz at wedding receptions and in restaurants. “I’ve done so much embarrassing shit, it’s crazy. I was in a play called Brian And The Argonauts, the story of Jason And The Argonauts set to the music of the Beach Boys. I was an Argonaut. I sang I Get Around. I was in the Lancashire Students’ Jazz Orchestra, going around Europe. I did one thing with them dressed up as a Blues Brother. If you can get up on stage in a theme park in Belgium dressed as a Blues Brother,” she nods, “you can get in front of a bunch of hipsters in a nightclub and play.” Things took off only in early 2008, when her manager leaked a song called Stuck On Repeat to a few influential blogs and “everything went insane”. “It really stood out,” says Peter Robinson of popjustice. com, one of the recipients. “There are a lot of people working in a similar field to her - young electronic singer-songwriter producer-types - but she has the best songs. I think she has more chance of success than anyone like her.” Rumours flew around the internet that Stuck On Repeat was the work of Kylie, or Goldfrapp, or a big dance producer with a female vocalist. In fact, Hesketh had co-written it with Greg Kurstin, an LA-based songwriter best known for working with Lily Allen, whom she had met while still in Dead Disco. She started to post clips of herself on YouTube, in her bedroom singing covers of Human League and Madonna songs as well as her own material: “Full of mistakes, just me, in my ‘jamas, messing about.” They became

“I’ve done so much embarrassing shit, it’s crazy. I was in a play called Brian And The Argonauts, the story of Jason And The Argonauts set to the music of the Beach Boys.” a phenomenon, attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers as well as the kind of reasoned and constructive criticism for which the internet is justly famed. “Really vulgar sexual stuff, about me being fat and minging and a shit singer and musician and a fucking bitch and slag, people saying they wanted to rape me,” she recalls. “Horrible. I nearly got upset, but it’s just 12-year-old kids in middle America, so I decided not to be bothered by it.” Besides, the clips also attracted the attention of Later ... producer Alison Howe. “She looked like she’d just got out of bed,” Howe remembers. “I really liked it, really liked the song, didn’t know anything about her, and that appealed to me. She hadn’t been plugged to me or anything like that.” When she appeared on the show, accompanying herself on the piano and stylophone - a 70s toy keyboard famously promoted by Rolf Harris - she cornered the lead singer of the Killers backstage and demanded a photograph together, which she then sent in to a page in the NME that prints snaps of fans with their idols. It was a rare instance of Hesketh losing her cool. She seems remarkably unfazed by all the attention. “I feel a bit pressurised, but it’s more me putting pressure on myself than the people saying I’m the future of pop or whatever. I’m just being myself, and the minute something feels forced or ungenuine, I won’t do it.” Nevertheless, the weight of expectation currently placed on Hesketh’s shoulders is immense, a situation further compounded by the feeling that a musical sea change is about to take place, and that she should be leading it. The public seem finally to have tired of the music that has held sway

over their taste for most of the decade: the putatively “alternative” guitar rock variously dubbed ITV indie or flipchart indie or landfill indie by critics who tired of it almost as soon as it turned up. At the end of 2008, new albums by the Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight and Keane dramatically underperformed. There’s some debate as to what will replace the serried ranks of skinny-jean clad bands and earnest singer-songwriters in the public’s affections (in a move designed to make anyone over 30 feel as old as the hills, Steve Lamacq talks vaguely of a grunge revival), but the smart money is on a resurgence in clever, unmanufactured electronic pop, with Little Boots at its forefront. “There’s a window that’s been created by this sort of horrible indie pile-up,” says Peter Robinson. “That’s helped pop music get back in, because it’s become quite a novelty that pop music is good and credible. She’s happy to admit she wants to be a pop star. But she has a connection with the songs she’s singing she wasn’t out at the corner shop buying a packet of Quavers when they were being written.”

says. “They either want you to be Kylie, where you don’t write the music and you’re part of the machine, or a singer-songwriter. You can’t be seen to be both.” A few nights later, I see her playing live in Berlin. It’s a long way from the kind of pop stardom that’s being predicted - it takes place in the early hours, in a filthy warehouse venue, before an audience of German trendies. Some of them have, regrettably, opted for an ironic 80s look that leaves them looking exactly like the sunbed-pinchers of popular British myth: mullet haircuts and moustaches abound. There’s not much evidence of epic staging - just Hesketh and her band and an array of synthesisers - but you can see how the excitement about Little Boots has built: although she plays only six songs, every one sounds suspiciously like a hit single.

There are, she admits, a lot of contradictions in what she does. On the one hand, she’s keen to demystify the process by which songs are written and people become pop stars, hence the YouTube clips. On the other, she is “in love Still, there’s always the chance the public with that Ziggy Stardust idea that pop stars might not bite. Pop music in recent years come from outer space”. Her artwork is has tended towards the prosaic and replete with pictures of unicorns and stars, straightforward, whether it’s the Arctic she sings “about magic and escapism Monkeys’ and Lily Allen’s tales of urban and fantasy, not about being in a strop teenage life, or Coldplay’s stadium-filling with my boyfriend and drinking cups of platitudes about feeling like a puzzle tea”, and she wants her stage presentation with a missing piece and lights guiding to be epic, although ambitions in that you home. By contrast, Little Boots is an direction have thus far been stymied by altogether more complicated sell: a female a lack of funds. She starts to discuss her “synth-geek” who has to restrain herself future ambitions - apparently it’s possible to from boring interviewers with discussion of make something called a laser harp out of “casual circuitry”, and describes her style a Nintendo Wii. Her mobile rings again, as “cosmic Coronation Street”. “People and Britain’s most hotly tipped pop star are really black and white about stuff,” she goes back to arguing with her mum. EAR CANDY SEPTEMBER 2012 | 16


Since forming in Bergen, Norway in 1998, electronic duo Röyksopp have served as pioneers of down-tempo musical mood-sculpting, their debut album of 2001, ‘Melody A.M.’, regarded as something of a classic of its chillout genre. The pair – Tobjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge – grew up in the same hometown of Tromsø, but did not begin to make music together as Röyksopp until meeting again in Bergen. ‘Melody A.M.’, picked up in the UK by Wall Of Sound, spawned successful singles including ‘Remind Me’ and ‘Eple’, establishing the duo as an outfit with commercial reach. Indeed, many of their songs have been used on advertisements, so accessible yet oddly unique are they. Music television also helped the band on their way – ‘Remind Me’ won its category at the 2002 MTV Europe Awards. Today, that side of the band remains strong, evidence enough presented by their latest single, ‘Happy Up Here’, with its Space Invaders over a cityscape visuals. Röyksopp’s third album, ‘Junior’, is released on March 23, and features guest vocal turns from Lykke Li and Karin Dreijer Andersson (The Knife). You’ve a slick-looking official site and plenty of social groups – did the band embrace the internet at an early stage? I’m afraid not! Being seen as a very electronic-inspired act, it’s perhaps a surprise that we can take our time with

things, and not rush anything. That’s maybe why, back in 1998, I didn’t have the internet. But the way music is consumed now, is it possible to be successful without the internet? I guess if you’re a classical musician, maybe, because you can go through different channels. But if the music you’re making is folk, or electronic, or indie… I can’t see that happening. Unless you’re so hardcore, I guess – like, there are some people who still only put their music out on cassette. Which seems funny because most stereos do not come with cassette players. I still have cassettes, a lot of them, at home, and still play them. But I can’t… It’s a good question, because I really can’t see a band becoming big without ‘advertising’ itself through the internet. Is the accessibility to new music that the internet offers a good or a bad thing? After all, the quality control is next to nonexistent as sites like MySpace are usergenerated. Has the internet ended local scenes, confined by geography? I still think that geographical boundaries are prescient and prominent, because the locality is not only based around culture, but we also believe that your physical surroundings – be it a concrete jungle or some breathtaking scenery – has to have an effect on what you do. So, it’s going to give your music a sense of identity. But then again, when we were growing up in Tromsø, which has the latter of the two, a lot of pretty scenery, our biggest inspiration was, at some point, Detroit techno. That was then, but I really believe and hope that music can be coloured by a local scene. The local scene is a big definer.

So that can be as influential as a favourite band? I think… Well, if you are determined… Seeing this from a Scandinavian perspective, you have two approaches, one of which is that you are determined to be part of a scene. Say, in 1991 there were bands wanting a ‘London’ sound, and some bands could pull that off impressively, without anyone raising an eyebrow. But then you’ve the other approach, which embraces your own culture and background. There’s a line from when Björk became so famous, because of her accent: she is proud of where she comes from. At that time most people in Norway, not in Iceland, were trying the copying approach, trying to sound like something spawned on the other side of the world. It’s changed, and maybe since Björk. Lots of bands that now get attention outside of Norway, I think, show some identity. It’s not necessarily authenticity, but they at least present themselves as authentic. That’s how cynical I am! (Laughs) You gave away a single from your new album, ‘Happy Birthday’, away for free. Do you think that today’s music fan expects something for nothing? Well, I just had a chat with my old man, and he remembers when people got 8-track tapes, and the fight against that format. And he told me about when the photocopier was invented, and how it was meant to destroy the publishing industry, but of course it didn’t. And you couldn’t tape off the radio, either, but at that age you are a casual user – you have not developed your tastes yet, and are bouncing between things. It’s ludicrous that anyone would charge you for that. So I think technology is just moving on, but people are the same. You need to convince people that your use of technology is intuitive; if it’s not natural, you are doomed to fail unless you use excessive force. Does it not bother you if people are picky, and take only two or three songs off of ‘Junior’? That doesn’t bother me at all. Obviously it’d be nice if people got the whole album, as it’s part of a concept that’s in two parts. I don’t know if you know this, but ‘Junior’ is to be released along with ‘Senior’, which is out later in the year. We worked on both simultaneously. It’s true! It’s a nod to the old ‘70s concept albums – one in spring, and hopefully the other in autumn. So we’ve made something with a naïve belief that people will take time and listen to the whole thing. But we know that not everyone will do that, and we don’t mind. Perhaps, from an egocentric point of view, it’s better if people listen to three songs and then decide not to get the album, than get it and never play it. Okay. Finally then, do you ever Google yourself? Sometimes we’ve done that, and sometimes I want to kick the guys who decide what comes up the top of a search. I know there’s lots of interesting stuff on the internet, and I know we’ve done really good interviews that are on the internet, but what comes up on searches is always really generic. In a way I don’t mind that our official site does not come up first – is a pretty obvious address.My dad has done, and then called to say: “Did you know your name comes up on Google?” Yes, dad, I assumed it might. Well, you’ve got to make sure the system works at least, from time to time. EAR CANDY SEPTEMBER 2012 | 36

LADYTRON By Anna Wilson

GRAVITY THE SEDUCER The eclectic, electronic four piece that are Ladytron have returned to the fray with a ‘Best Of’ album, marking out a decade in the business and as a forerunner to their fifth studio album ‘Gravity The Seducer’, which is due for release in September. Known for their lush synthesized sounds, uniform wearing (back in the early days) and for ploughing their own fantastically unclassifiable furrow, they are a band at the peak of their powers, traversing the worlds of video games, movie soundtracks, DJ sets and remixes for other artists. To promote the album they’re currently touring the UK, with upcoming shows in London, Glasgow, Liverpool and Dublin this week. You have a new album due out soon, why did now feel like the time to go for a ‘greatest hits’? Is it purely to mark the decade milestone or perhaps to put your current work into some sort of chronological context? Both, it’s an opportunity to draw a line in the sand that will not come around again. Additionally, much of our audience weren’t even aware of us the last time we put an album out, let alone when we began.

tour in the US. We didn’t assume that we would be touring all over the world. It was also nothing to do with money, tours were still in part supported by labels in those days remember, they were considered marketing. To be honest the way the balance has shifted, I dislike when artists are making albums purely as a platform to tour, and conversely the attitude that musicians should just accept that touring is the only source of income. That is actually, for all but the biggest artists, an untenable You’ve produced music for The Sims and situation which is beginning to be for a FIFA you think that dilutes acknowledged, although I must say, usually what you do as a band or it just another anonymously. This is why artists, especially channel to get your music ‘out there’? new ones, in general deserve to be cut No different to a film or TV show. Didn’t some slack for seeking ways to monetize produce music specifically, nothing unusual their music, the average listener has had or particularly noteworthy. quite a good deal from decimation of the old industry after all. You started out playing to backing tapes and doing one off shows whereas now You’re known as a four piece but there’s you’re well respected as a live band... now an additional rhythm section that did this happen organically, through the aren’t part of the ‘band’....are they just process of playing together or did you used when you’re touring or do they think, we need to get this live thing down contribute to the recording process? because its the only way to make money Touring, and a very occasional session these days? playing if required. We began to focus on live only when it was apparent that there was a demand for You continue to use analogue equipment us to play around the world, and bear in when you tour, as it must be hard to mind we had already passed on a 2001 duplicate some of your sound digitally...

irreplaceable items no doubt give up the ghost in transit, do you mourn them or just get searching for replacements? We buy every MS20 we find. Seriously. You’ve admitted that you’re a album band, would you be happy to dispense with the whole single business or do you enjoy choosing an album ‘taster’ and making of the subsequent video’s? I wouldn’t say we admitted anything, we make albums. That’s part of the album process though, it need not be mutually exclusive, we love putting singles out. What we don’t want is the charade where an album is made purely as a platform for touring, as I said, which is endemic now. The album, is and should be a viable form in itself. You’ve listed very disparate influences in terms of what you listen to...most of if historical. Are there any current bands that are influencing your sound or that you’re excited by? To be honest I’m not sure I remember listing any influences explicitly, certainly not for a long time. However I do remember explaining which assumed influences were actually inaccurate. In general, normal listeners, rather than music geeks, have almost universal knowledge of backEAR CANDY SEPTEMBER 2012 | 110

catalogue nowadays. I find that I rarely tell anybody about a record, it is assumed that everybody is aware. But for a band that has been active this long to be overtly influenced by something totally current seems perverse, as you’re already on your own journey, our records have been substantially different anyway. You can always be influenced by a change of context, or a change in audience however. The atmospheric aspect of your music feels like it could easily be translated into a cinematic collaboration...would you like to do a soundtrack for a movie and if so which directors would you be interested in working with? I’m already working on some film projects. You’re playing at the Arches (Glasgow) in October to promote the album, does Helen view that as a homecoming of sorts, especially in light of the greatest hits? Yes she always loves playing Glasgow. You DJ, do you get something very different from that than you do when you’re performing; do you ever play any of your own records? DJ’ing is totally different to playing live shows, seems pointless to compare. Sometimes you play your own record, depends on the circumstances, if there’s a crowd there for us specifically then sure, but I wouldn’t normally if it didn’t matter. Was it a bit strange collaborating with pop princess Christina Aguilera or did you respect the fact she liked your sound and wanted a piece of it? Both. but I’ve said before, I respect the major artists who actually seek out the collaborators who they want to work with, far more than those who just send a list of names to A&R for a producer to approximate. She deserves more credit for that than she actually got. I would say that some real nonsense has been written about this though, which I suppose is natural given the nature of her celebrity, but is not our world. Our world is far removed from

Mira Aroyo (vocals, synthesizers), Helen Marnie (lead vocals, synthesizers), Daniel Hunt (synthesizers, electric guitar, vocals) and Reuben Wu (synthesizers).

“Creatively we’re not confined to this group, or to music, individually or collectively. All I would say is that this album has been the one whose creation has felt driven by the strongest desire.” that of high profile pop stars. Do you feel as enthused and prolific as when you first began working together or do you believe Ladytron to have a finite existence? We never planned beyond making the next record, even when we began, though looking back, five albums always seemed appropriate. It depends on what we want

to do next. Creatively we’re not confined to this group, or to music, individually or collectively. All I would say is that this album has been the one whose creation has felt driven by the strongest desire. You can catch Ladytron at the following shows: 19/10/12 - The Forum, London 30/10/12 - The Arches, Glasgow

Left to right: Dumb Pint, Cute Pint, Crazy Pint, Tough Pint


By Eduardo Alonso

What can a girl band do with a name about alcohol tolerance, lyrics about game consoles and a stage image full of masks and costumes? Well, just becoming the most popular band of the moment. With a funny mix of rock, garage and crazy lyrics Pintandwefall will surprise you. Guitar player and vocalist Dumb Pint tells about the band and its first album: Wow! What Was That, Baby? What is the story of the band? How did you come up with such a name? In the spring of 2006 after another rock band’s rehearsals, I was in a bar and I had the idea of starting a girl band which would play one gig in an school competition. The idea was that everybody would play an instrument which one would have never played. Next day at school I was asking my friends to join me. We took the name of the band from a poor joke which was about bad tolerance of alcohol and we learned two songs in three weeks. To our wonder everybody liked us! The original plan was that we would have broken up because of musical disagreements, but because of getting extra gigs we couldn’t stop and we had to write more songs.

You have pretty original and funny lyrics? How do you find inspiration for them or topics like X-Box? We don’t have any limits, so we write songs about almost any kinds of topics which inspire us. X-box had a different story though; the song had originally really dirty lyrics which we had to change to be called a “family version”.

What about your looks and style: the masks and the names? Image has always been important to us! Already in the first rehearsals we were planning what type of nail polish and shade of lip stick we should use. The costumes were supposed to match with each other. In the beginning instead of masks we had huge sunglasses, but then before one gig we went to a joke shop to buy a diabolo for Cute Pint, who plays percussion and sings. At the same time we found these great disguises. We had an idea to wear them to the night’s gig and finally they kind of came our dominating element on the stage by accident. Nowadays the audience would complain if we didn’t wear our masks.We wanted also to have very stupid Spice Girls type of artistic names. Something that was funny, catchy and a little bit tongue in cheek. We should have thought them a bit better if we had known that this will go this far…

Your album is becoming very popular, how do you feel with these sudden success? It feels really absurd! Even though since the beginning there has been small fuss around the band which has grown into new potential during the time. It’s wonderful that people like us so much! Tell me a bit about your influences? We haven’t found any great influence, the reporters have invented things for us.


By Elly Jackson

QUIDPROQUO We had the chance to ask Elly from LA ROUX some questions via email. She doesn’t give much away but she’s certainly an interesting character who I’d love to chat with in more detail one day. What a stellar record she put out this year – La Roux is now available for us in OZ to purchase.

and Annie Lennox as influences. What is your favourite album by each of those artists? And what about those artists inspires you? David Bowie – Young Americans Madonna – Madonna Eurythmics – Touch

What is your opinion on Lady Gaga? The media is always talking about her fashion sense – you are also involved in the creation of your own clothing? (This question was ignored…LOL)

Where do you envision La Roux in the next 5 years? Doing online PR.

We saw your very first performance here in NYC at Studio B. Were you nervous or surprised that night that everyone was so excited to see you and knew your songs already? Tell us what was going on through your head that night? That was one of my favourite shows ever. We had no expectations before we went on – it was very early for us to be in the US so it felt wonderful to see a crowd that were not only up for it but knew the songs as well. Thank you, the internet. Was music an escape for you growing up? My dad bought me a guitar when I was 4 years old and I wrote my first song when I was 7 so I’ve always known I was going to do this even through the dark times, and there were plenty of them. You have cited David Bowie, Madonna

How are you handling fame? Is it everything you thought it would be? I try not to let fame intrude on my life. I keep my private life private, I don’t go courting celebrity and I don’t tend to go to where the paps are waiting for you….

We heard that you don’t like to hear your work remixed, is this true and if so why? I like to hear great remixes of La Roux – Skream , Zinc and Data have all done amazing things to our work. I just don’t like to hear bullshit mixes. Where do you find inspiration from, and who are your favourite artists currently releasing music? From love. Glass Candy and White Lies are my two favourite current artists. How do you feel about being an artist in the digital age? Do you feel it works to your advantage or against you? It makes it easier for people to buy your singles rather than the whole album and that can be frustrating. Do you consider yourself a role model for the younger generation? Give us something inspirational to end with… My favourite word is cunt.


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