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Interview: Little Boots
Little Boots aka Victoria Hesketh has had a very busy year so far; hotly tipped as ‘the next big thing' in music the 25 year old has been frantically spreading her electro-synth-pop love all over the world. She was named Sound of 2009 in the BBC poll of music industry professions and has had several hit singles this year (‘New in Town' charted in the UK top twenty and ‘Remedy' blasted into the top ten) with album Hands peaking in the top ten.
Ex-member of electro/indie band Dead Disco, Victoria became Little Boots in 2008 to pursue a solo career. Her sound, which she says is influenced by artists such as Kate Bush, Gary Numan and David Bowie has become a definite hit with the British public. Although she has shot to fame, Blackpool-born Victoria says that her hometown is "defiantly important to me, it's a very special place; all my family are there and I miss it a lot."
Having auditioned, unsuccessfully for ‘Pop Idol' as a teenager, Victoria is glad to have made it on her own terms, "It would have been very different." She admits however, "I was very young and I only did one audition, I wasn't in the programme or anything like that so, you know, it wasn't a very big deal at the time." Little Boots has been busy on the gig circuit, globe trotting from venue to venue. Her favourite gig so far though, has been here in the UK at Glastonbury Festival: "It was really good because all my family came and it's just a really a special gig." When I speak to Victoria she is in the middle of playing a set of UK tour dates: the girl does not stop!
Despite the media hype behind her Victoria refuses to be grouped together with other breakthrough female artists of the moment such as La Roux and Florence & the Machine, insisting that they are all individuals "making interesting music," not figureheads for some sort of synth-pop zeitgeist.
But is it not frustrating to be constantly grouped with other musicians by the press as if you're a single entity? "Not really, I mean it's a bit rude because we're all really different. It's a bit weird to make parallels just because we've all got vaginas! But that's the press for you and they think it's going to give them a better angle for their story. But it doesn't really bother me, you know, its always going to happen. I
If you don't get that you're gonna get something else."
There has been a lot of press interest in Little Boots, especially over the past twelve months, but she makes an effort not to become sucked in by it. "I try and avoid anything that anyone writes about me nowadays, if I'm going to read anything I'd much rather read a book." She pauses before adding, "but I know for a fact that there are things that are made up about me all the time...just nonsense, but you just have to try and ignore it." I have a feeling that she doesn't have to worry too much about negative press; with sellout shows and successful singles, Little Boots stock is firmly on the rise.
Victoria's cosmic vintage look has made her a firm favourite with dedicated followers of fashion, particularly noted for her love of shoulder pads, sequins and all things shiny she regularly graces the best dressed lists in magazines and fashion blogs. But, for Little Boots, fashion is far from being an isolated artistic interest separate from her work; she insists that it is an extension of her music. Unlike Lady Gaga, Victoria does not use her stage name as a persona, ‘Little Boots' is a nickname not a character. "My whole sense of style is based around music and how I can express that and the ideas in it. It's just completely linked! It's a physical manifestation of the sound really. Everything I wear, on stage or off, but particularly on stage, is a reflection of the sound."
Likewise her fantastical artwork, brimming with images of unicorns and stars, is inspired by her musical innovations. When I ask her about how much input she has into her artwork designs she tells me that she and illustrator/artist Chrissie Abbott collaborate. "We work together on everything and come up with the ideas together...although she does the drawings cos I'm not very good at that! It's absolutely an expression of the music." The artwork has a fantastical quality, yet it is also very mathematical. The artwork for Hands is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's geometric Dark Side of the Moon album design and yet also contains the soft fairytale imagery of mythical creatures. Little Boots clearly has her artistic head firmly in the clouds.
Having seen Little Boots play at Leeds Festival in August this year I know that if there is one thing she can do it's multitask! Victoria not only provides vocals for her shows, but plays keyboard, stylophone and tenori-on.
Whilst ‘Remedy' is a firmly established crowd pleasing favourite her new single ‘Earthquake' is set to chart high on the Richter scale. Keeping it elemental, the new video to accompany the song shows the singer performing in front of a background of a night sky and meteor showers. Speaking about ‘Earthquake', Victoria says that the song is about "being the bigger person in an argument and how that can sometimes be stronger than rising up to the bait." And the inspiration for the lyrics? "Partly it was personal.. and partly it was from watching other people's relationships and how people react to one another and realizing that sometimes being a bigger person is what actually makes you stronger."
Perhaps the thought that goes into Little Boots' artwork, lyrics and style is symptomatic of the fact that she is not just a pretty face, but a girl with a brain. Several years ago Victoria graduated from the University of Leeds with a first class degree in Cultural Studies and speaks glowingly of student life. "I loved being a student, I wish I could go back! I had a great time, I really did...I shouldn't really have got the grade that I got because I didn't do that much work but I did good. It's the only time in your life where...you're able to concentrate on advancing your knowledge rather than, you know, working for someone else..."
Any advice for the students of Oxford? "I enjoyed the learning as much as the social stuff. You've got to get a balance. It's important to appreciate it's just such an amazing opportunity to stop and learn and do nothing else. Once you leave you really miss that.'
Night out clubbing or staying in?
Definitely staying in now because my job is being out every night!
What's the last book you read?
I'm reading some short stories by Truman Capote at the moment.
What did you want to be when you were 12 years old?
I always wanted to be a singer...I always wanted to make music in some shape or form but I wasn't really sure how at that point.
What do you think is your worst habit?
Talking over people, it's really bad... people will start talking and I'll be answering before they've finished their sentence, sort of pre-empting people. It's really annoying and I should stop doing it!
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I'd quite like to meet Bette Middler. No particular reason I just think she's pretty cool. I always say she'd play me in the film of my life. Ooh and Barbara Streisand, I'd really like to meet her, that would be amazing.
Do you have a favourite lyric?
‘Just before our love got lost you said I am as constant as a northern star
And I said, constant in the darkness, where's that at?' (Joni Mitchell, ‘Case of you')
If you were a superhero for a day, what would your superpower be and why?
I reckon I'd want to fly; then I could fly into space. That would be cool.