Who Is…Little Boots
“If you listen to my pop, you can tell it comes from a slightly weird place,” says Victoria Hesketh, the solo artist behind Little Boots. That slightly weird place might include Hesketh's hometown, the northwest English seaside resort of Blackpool, where creaking fairground attractions blend with time-warp ballrooms and shrill amusement arcades. It also encompasses a musical childhood that spanned classical music and jazz, as well as teenage years spent ricocheting between punk and Euro-trance. “All the stuff I've done, I just don't regret any of it,” she adds. “I think it's so good musically to have learned all that stuff and to have had all those experiences. It all inspires me still.”
A one-time member of Leeds indie outfit Dead Disco, keyboard player and vocalist Hesketh is barely at the beginning of her Little Boots recording career; to date she has a seven-inch (“Meddle”), a twelve-inch (two versions of “Stuck On Repeat” and “Meddle” apiece), and a couple of MySpace uploads (including “Love Kills”) to her name. The sparseness of the catalogue hasn't stopped journalists from rushing to hail Little Boots as the next pop sensation. Hesketh's ongoing relationship with producers such as Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) and Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Dead Disco, Kylie Minogue) suggests she is in a strong position to make the predictions come true.
eMusic caught up with Little Boots to find out more about the improbable journey that took her from Blackpool's unreconstructed beaches to the hipper-than-thou enclave of Shoreditch in East London.
On her somewhat cockeyed entrance into music:
I grew up in Blackpool and was classically trained. There's nowhere posh to train in Blackpool — there's no Blackpool conservatory — so I got a local piano teacher. I ended up winning a music scholarship and did classical stuff with the school choir until I left school to go to sixth-form college. Around that time my music teacher said, “Oh, we need a jazz trio night, will you sing?” I started playing in loads of jazz groups and a Lancashire big band. After that I started doing piano vocal stuff in hotel lobbies to pay my way through Leeds University, but it was awful, schmoozy music. Towards the end I thought, “God, why am I spending all my time doing this?” I'd lost what I was about musically.
On her leap from bad jazz to indiepop:
I'd played in punk bands before I got distracted with making money from jazz, and while I was at university, the Kaiser Chiefs were getting big. Everybody was massive on indie, so I formed a band called Dead Disco with two other girls and we got signed to 679. I grew up listening to a lot of bands, and people still seem to think I've got an indie-pop sound. But everything I've done before has been pigeonholed as this kind of thing or that kind of thing. Little Boots is the first time I've been given free reign and can be myself, so I don't want to put it into any boxes.
On falling in love with dance music:
Blackpool is full of tacky nightclubs and when I was 15 I was going crazy to really trashy Euro-trance. A lot of those records have really strong top-lines and really strong choruses, plus there's the big euphoric thing. I definitely take something from that. I've also got a lot more into the dance world through DJing. I can't compete with the DJs who know every record, so I just go on treasure hunts and find little bits that I like. I prefer Italo disco and Moroder to the big, shiny, funk sound of American disco.
On her approach to music:
The production process always varies. Sometimes I'll write a song with a piano in my bedroom and then send them to [producer] Joe [Goddard] or someone else to produce. A lot of the synths Joe uses are really old and weird. They're out of tune half the time, and their patterns change constantly. They're not perfect and MIDI-ed and compressed and put through a hundred computers. I prefer synthesizers when they're more organic and they feel like they're alive and you can hear them breathe. So we put things through weird peddles and weird amps, and we also record bits of noise and sample weird things like little toys.
On living in London and making occasional trips to Blackpool:
I live in Shoreditch, just off Columbia Road, and I love it — it's really inspiring and exciting. There's no better place for me to be. I've got a lot of friends, so it's really fun, and everything I need is here. But I also go a bit crazy, so it's good to go home and get a bit real again because — I dunno — down here people talk a lot of rubbish and believe it. I love being here, though. I really love it. I don't think I'd want to move out until I'm old. I mean, I lived in Leeds for five years and Leeds pales in comparison.