EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: La Roux star Elly Jackson

Posted by Dean Piper On April 10th, 2011

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It’s instantly apparent that La Roux front lady Elly Jackson has changed. The giant quiff that plagued her for all of last year has been removed from the equation. After tiring of her slightly iconic hair-do, Elly has decided to go for a slick-backed, simple flick which she describes as “slightly more classic and less novelty.” And it’s also good to know the star is the same girl we met during her debut album – scooping a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance album in January and their self-titled debut album being certified platinum in the UK has failed to change her. Phew. Natalie Edwards sat down with the singer to chat about the second album plans, Elly’s sexual side and why there won’t be a collaboration in the near future

First of all – a massive congratulations for scooping a Grammy. It’s an incredible achievement – especially for a British act and a debut album.
We are very, very chuffed. I didn’t really know anything about the Grammys really. I just associated it with people like Mariah Carey. It doesn’t compute in my mind that we would even be up for one. To me it’s up there with other things, like Elton John. It doesn’t compute with me so it was weird. It is amazing as an English act to have won and also with the kind of music that we do which was even a little bit difficult to get out here. To have done so well in the States in just a couple of years – in the grand scheme of things it’s quite a sort space of time –and then to be awarded a Grammy is pretty incredible.

Where have you put it?
I haven’t got it yet! You’re on stage and you’re like ‘I’ve got a Grammy’ and then they literally take it straight off you as you walk off stage. I was like ‘What are you doing? That’s my Grammy!’ and the woman told me it was just a prop. We did four hours on a press run afterwards and you see them all piled on hundreds of podiums all around the building. They are quite big awards as well and some of the biggest I’ve ever seen. Then there are all these girls there just standing there just polishing them! My sister was with me and was telling me to have a picture next to a Grammy but literally the security come down on you and take your camera away. They only want the photographers they’ve paid to be there to take any pictures and you have to make sure you hold it a certain way round. It’s almost as strict as meeting the Queen!

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Have you started work on the follow-up yet? Everyone is so excited to hear some new material.
So am I actually. It’s weird because it’s difficult to talk about it as when you make a record so many things change over the course of making it. I could say now ‘It’s a bit like this and it’s a bit like that’ but then in a few months time it could be completely different. But I think we are nearing settling on a style but there’s still a lot of work to do. We have written a few things but I’m about to go on holiday so that will put it on hold for a bit. I’m not telling anyone where I’m going just in case as I really, really want to be left alone! We’ve been in the studio on and off for a bit but we only finished touring at Christmas and I’ve been taking some time out as I’ve got loads of things to do to my house as it needs renovating. In order to write a record about anything real I kind of need to have a life again. Obviously I have a great time when I’m working but who wants to hear an album about me being in a tour bus or having some hummus in a dressing room? Of course there are stresses with being on tour as you do get tired and you do get homesick but I don’t want to f**king write about it at all. It’s just not something that I want to write about. So I’ve got that element of figuring out what the subject matter of the album is and there’s definitely more of a sexual element.

What do you mean – is La Roux going to become La Raunchy?!
It’s difficult to explain it and I’m scared that if it gets edited down then it’s going to sound like I’m writing a sex album! Basically I think I’ve come across in the past as almost as if I don’t like that kind of sexual element to music or entertainment. But I do. I do like a sexual element side to a lot of things but I don’t like it to be in an overtly kind of obvious way. I think the sexiest things about people – and it’s obviously people that we’re talking about as that’s where sex comes from – are the subtitles about them and the mysteries about things that you don’t know. The thing that makes you attracted to somebody is when you don’t know what’s going on. If someone comes up to you, straddles you and says ‘I want to f**k now’ that isn’t sexy, not that I’ve ever had it happen to me! There may be some blokes out there that find that sexy but I certainly f**king don’t. I just think the way sex is portrayed in a lot of songs and a lot of music videos makes it very unsexy. I don’t necessarily have a massive problem with it apart from when it’s being marketed to eight-year-olds and then I sort-of do. I want the sound of the record to be a lot more sexy but not in a ‘I’m going to f**k you in a club’ sort of way. I want it to be old-fashioned sex and old-fashioned sexy – a bit of mystery and a bit of a smoky kind-of slickness. Also with my voice I want it to be a lot deeper and a lot sexier as well because there’s an area of my voice which has opened up recently and I never knew I had it. I think it’s going to be more like that than me talking about sex. I also want to get in an element of a lot of things that I have seen over the last couple of years that aren’t to do with work – like character traits in people that you begin to notice as you get older and begin to know more people. There are a lot of character traits that you never thought would apply to you or that would apply to your friends or that you would ever justify in anyone – like how the darker side of your mind works. Or if you are about to do something that you know you shouldn’t do but yet you do it anyway and it’s the thought process that leads to that. It will mean singing songs about observational stories where I’ve seen people go and do things where you can tell they don’t feel right about it – like going and having an affair – and it’s that thought process which leads you there and makes you justify it. Hopefully it should be good.

When do you expect to finish up the record and get it released?
We have got a way to go yet so I wouldn’t expect anything this side of Christmas. The first record took us a long time as we didn’t rush and we were very, very happy with the results and the rest of our fans seem to have been as well. I literally don’t believe in, or buy into this whole rush culture of if you don’t have something out this year then no-one will f**king buy it. It’s a load of b*****ks. People bought our record when they had never heard who we were before. There are people there and they want to hear the music. If the music is s**t then of course no-one will buy it but if it’s a great record and a really good progression then I do believe people will buy it. All I need to do is make sure that it is good.

Do you have a wish-list of anyone you would like to work with on the record?
I wouldn’t like to work with anyone. Obviously we have done a couple of collaborations that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought I would do and they have been good for whatever reasons and it’s nice to meet other musicians. But I think when it comes to your own record there shouldn’t be collaborations on there. It’s different for rap artists because they need a singer or a singer needs a rapper in a verse so I’m not saying I’m totally against it but for us we write everything that we do and there isn’t really a necessity for it. I don’t really think there is anyone right that would work for what we do either or for what we are about to do. I think it can look a bit unfocused as well. I think if you have about ten rappers on an album you can look it and think ‘Hang on, how much of it is really you?’

Elly was performing a DJ set at a Nissan ‘Behind the Hit’ event in Koko, London, which was the finale of a campaign to uncover new music talent.

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