La Roux's Synth-Pop Barrage Is Back on Track
Much like Robyn, Little Boots, and Annie, La Roux is another European alt-dance commodity with outlandish hair and songs seemingly too brash for ubiquity in the U.S. Yet La Roux's flame-maned vocalist Elly Jackson and keyboardist/co-producer Ben Langmaid have infiltrated America (much like Robyn's brief reign 14 years ago) with the kinetic "Bulletproof," a wizened tale of resisting the urge to return to romance gone bad. Since then, Jackson's been reticent about collaborations with other artists (she boldly told U.K. paper The Guardian "Lady GaGa's not my thing"), but did hook up with Kanye West for a remix of La Roux's "In for the Kill." Unfortunately, the 22-year-old's voice gave out on her back in August — right before she was set to unleash live upon the Culture Room.
In preparation for the make-up date in the same spot, New Times and Jackson discussed La Roux's place in the pop spectrum, her feelings about American breakfasts, and how the sophomore album is gonna be so live.
New Times: What do you and Ben Langmaid like to do in your downtime on tour?
Elly Jackson: I've no idea what Ben likes to do with his downtime on tour because he never comes on tour! Ever! He gets to stay home and that makes me so jealous! I'd guess that he will spend his downtime pranging... I prefer the gym or catching up on sleep. Boring, but necessary.
What are your favorite aspects of visiting the United States?
The audiences, the shopping, the truck stops, the truckers, the trucks.
Hotel breakfasts. Why do you guys eat so much cake in the morning? "Cake with syrup and cream and a side of cake please."
How has your perspective of pop stardom shifted over the past year?
That it's easier to change things from the inside than from the outside. And that I have to watch what I say more often!
How has it felt to get radio airplay in the U.S.?
It's amazing. Almost unbelievable that this song that me and Ben wrote and recorded in half an hour in his front room in Twickenham has had such an impact. Everyone told us that America wouldn't take to La Roux, that we just didn't sound like what is being played on the radio here; could we remix the fuck out of it, and put a rapper on or fatten the bass or sell our souls just to get a sniff of success. We had to dig our heels in, but finally they got it and we're being proven right. It's just taken a little longer. And I think it's so cool to be sandwiched between Will.i.am and Lady GaGa. Surreal.
Do you feel like you're bending "pop music" to do your bidding?
When we made the album we didn't consider that we were making pop music. We felt we'd made a great record but maybe one that was a bit underground. I couldn't get my head round having a hit, and for a while I fought against it. Now it's something to be embraced. Maybe it will give us the freedom to really bend the rules next time.
Will your "next time" album be four years in the works?
The next album will take less time than this one. There's always a worry about second album syndrome, but we've already made a good start writing new material. It will have real musicians on it. I'm going for an epic Italo disco vibe.
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