After topping the BBC’s Sound of 2009 poll ahead of Lady Gaga, La Roux and Florence and the Machine, Victoria Hesketh – aka Little Boots – found herself dumped by her record company, despite also having a top 5 debut album. After a long wait, she has returned with “Nocturnes”, a record that is set to become a soundtrack to summer.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY BE BACK WITH NEW MATERIAL FOR YOUR FANS TO HEAR?
It’s fantastic. The delay in new material was as frustrating for me as it was for the fans so it’s great to finally have the new album out there.
YOU’VE SPOKEN QUITE OPENLY ABOUT THE ISSUES YOU HAD WITH THE CREATION OF YOUR LAST RECORD, AND THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE MAJOR LABELS IN THAT. DO YOU FEEL THAT IN RETROSPECT, AN ARTIST OFTEN HAS TO COMPROMISE THEIR VISION IF THEY SIGN TO A MAJOR?
I can only speak from personal experience, but I think the more people involved the more diluted ideas can get and at the time I was quite naive and swept up in everything. I don’t want to paint a picture of some big bad major label though; there were some fantastic people who worked on my first record who I’m still great friends with. It just wasn’t right for me and where I wanted to be as an artist.
DO YOU FEEL THAT THE ACCOLADE OF WINNING THE BBC SOUND OF 2009 POLL HELPED OR HINDERED YOU AT THAT TIME?
Everyone always asks this question. It’s obviously great exposure, especially internationally, although it’s clearly a double-edged sword and puts a lot of pressure on you to live up to other peoples’ expectations. It felt a bit like everyone had decided what kind of artist I was going to be before I’d even figured it out myself.
AT ANY POINT DID YOU CONSIDER DROPPING THE LITTLE BOOTS PROJECT?
Probably not seriously, but I toyed with the idea of doing other projects under other names… I think it’s good to change things up and keep people guessing. Little Boots isn’t really me – it’s more a group of music and ideas and an aesthetic. But saying that, I didn’t want to drop it before I’d even established what it was about, the new album definitely feels more like my original vision of the project.
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE SOUND OF THIS NEW RECORD?
It’s fun – you can dance to it. It’s escapist and dreamy and emotional, but there’s also a darkness, whether its danger or sadness. I think there are themes everyone can relate to. Sonically there’s a lot of early disco and house references. It kind of takes you on a journey through lots of classic dance records and different phases of the night.
HAVE YOU FOUND THIS SOUND WHILE MAKING THE RECORD, OR WAS IT THE SOUND YOU FELT OR WISHED YOU COULD HAD BEEN DOING ON THE FIRST RECORD?
I don’t think I could have had this sound on the first record. I worked with some great people on it and in the time and circumstances I did what I thought was right. The sound of this record reflects where I’m at now. I’ve grown up a bit, been out DJ-ing, filled in a lot of holes in my record collection, so the new sound has to reflect all that.
WAS A LOT OF IT RECORDED AT NIGHT?
No, most of it in the middle of the day! But in studios it’s always dark with no windows so you feel like you’re in a time warp – it easily could have been.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE RECORD AND WHY?
It’s difficult – I love them all for different reasons. ‘Motorway’ is one of my faves. I have a lot of personal images I associate with it of driving late at night. ‘Shake’ was important as it was the first step in the production direction and I love the sonic cosmic epicness of ‘Strangers’ too.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE ON THE MUSIC SCENE AT THE MOMENT? ANYONE WE SHOULD WATCH OUT FOR?
I’m a big fan of Jessie Ware. I’m also loving the new James Blake album. I really like a band on sub pop called Still Corners too. We have some great new bands supporting us on our US and UK tours – Avan Lava, Feathers, The KDMS and MDNGHT. Also some great DJs – Baunz, Dief and Baker and I love Moon Boots and Maya Jane Coles.
YOU’VE BEEN A SUPPORTER OF FASHION – HAS YOUR OWN STYLE CHANGED WITH THIS RECORD?
Definitely. My style always reflects my music so lately I’ve been delving through vintage shops to find studio 54 and Donna Summer-esque gowns and lots of 70s jewellery. I like to be a visual representation of my music.
WHAT IS THE VISUAL AESTHETIC FOR THE PROJECT AS A WHOLE?
It’s always completely tied to the music. For this album I worked with some great designers. I wanted a disco feel and colour palette but also to reflect the darkness and night time feel. A lot of it has been done layering up lots of images of me so they’re almost ghost-like. I take on lots of different voices and stories in song writing.
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS?
We’re just finishing a short but intense US tour, then a couple of dates in the UK and Asia. We’re then playing European festivals over the summer including Glastonbury which we’re really excited about, followed by more tours of the UK, US and hopefully beyond. I’m also going to be recording some of the songs that didn’t make it onto Nocturnes and writing new material – writing for other artists too which is something I really enjoy.
WHO ARE YOUR IDOLS?
Kate Bush, Brian Wilson, Giorgio Moroder, Madonna, Bowie, Barbara Streisand and my mum.
By Holly Rubenstein for IDOL Magazine
New LP “Nocturnes” was released May 6th through On Repeat Records