the AU interview: Victoria Christina Hesketh aka Little Boots (London)

Electro-pop songstress Victoria Christina Hesketh, aka Little Boots, took time out to speak with Larry Heath about the collaborative efforts of her latest release Nocturnes, punishing flight routes and developing the Poco Poco.

It must be early there! I'm sorry to be waking you up.

Oh no it's fine I actually volunteered for it earlier than I got offered so [laughs], it's my own fault.

Are you normally an early riser?

Uh, yeah when I'm busy like I am now, as long as I've not come off some insane flight, yeah I'm pretty good

Like from Australia perhaps.

Yeah like from Australia I haven't been for a long time actually but god that flight's a killer. I had to do it on my own, I remember all my band went straight from San Francisco last time and I had to go via London to do a video. I went back to London after two weeks in the U.S touring, did a video and then the next day got the flight to Sydney on my own and it was an absolute killer. All my band got there, had been on the beach for three days having fun, it was terrible.

That route from London to Sydney, that's one of the worst.

Yeah you go to go somewhere on the way I think, so where are you, are you in Sydney?

Yeah certainly am, we're unfortunately getting into the colder part of the year and you're getting into the warmer side of things.

Oh no sympathy, I'm sure cold in Australia is completely different to english weather. Yeah ok we're still getting to a warmer day and it's still about 4 degrees here, so that's been quite toasty like that.

Yes it's all relative I suppose.

[laughs] Yeah.

Well we're of course here because in a couple of weeks, you'll be releasing your second record, first of all I got to listen to it today, congratulations it's so much fun.

Thank you very, very much.

I mean that's definitely the first thing I took away from the record, that you went out to make a fun record, would that be a fair assumption?

I don't think you're not supposed to have any fun with it, I always like making people dance, but then I didn't want it to be throw away and that was quite important to me. You know dance music can be quite naff especially with all those EDMs (electronic dance musicians) being in the charts and a lot of it's quite throw away or quite repetitive. It was quite important to make a dance record with substance, because you can do that and there are a lot of great classic dance artists. So yeah I wanted to get this combination of fun and going out, but mixed with a bit of something a bit more classic and a bit more timeless and have some personality in it.

Some of the songs date back quite a few years now, what was the reason for it being such a long gestation period from some of those early tracks to the final track.

Yeah there was a lot of reasons, part of it was I was on tour until probably mid to end of 2010 and I find it very difficult to write when I'm on the road. I'm very focussed on touring, the thought of writing at the back of the bus I find it really hard, I have to be quiet. So I probably should have started writing earlier, but I was so consumed with tour and promo. So I guess it was that and it took me a little after while coming down from such crazy promo, it did take me a while to find my feet again and remember how to write songs really. I just didn't want to do the same thing again, so I couldn't just call the same people I wanted last time. I had to try out some new things, all of that was quite time consuming.

But even so I think still living it out a year or two ago, there was a lot of label things, my old label weren't really backing me, didn't give me any support on the new direction, didn't really get it. So I had to then get a new label and in the end I set-up my own label. All that takes up quite a lot of time and it's very frustrating when you're sitting on an album and you're waiting for paperwork to come through.

But I do think now that it's coming out that actually the time it took for chasing, a lot of ups and downs, I think its made it a better album. I think you can hear the kind of ups and downs in the record that I was going through and I don't think it would have been as great or interesting if I'd just got on it straight away and chucked the next thing I wrote up. So in a real way it's made it better, but I've so much appreciated all my very patient times, I definitely wasn't that patient at times!

Well you certainly worked with a lot of people on the record, from Andy Butler (Hercules & Love Affair) to James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco), Jim Eliot (Kish Mauve). How do you work with that many people and create something that is cohesive. I mean there's certainly ups and downs as you mentioned, but it feels continuous from start to finish. It feels like an album. Was that what you always kept in mind?

Yeah it was so important and it's really difficult because the modern way pop albums are made, you know it's not like when Bowie was just going to live and camp out and make a whole record. Nowadays great labels they send out all over the world with a whole heap of writers or whatever. They're made in this very fractured way and I think when I listen back to my first record now, I can really hear that in it.

The song that was produced by Joe (Goddard) from Hot Chip is right next to a song produced by the guy who does Lady Gaga. You know its this kind of digital age I guess, where everything just flies backwards and forwards and it was really important for me to make things easier. But because I had written the songs all over the place it was a real challenge to actually tie them together.

That's the reason why I kind of wanted to go to one place with one person and just do the whole record, but I guess it's not an ideal world and things aren't always that simple. There are so many great songs done with different people, it would have been a shame to lose some of them. But that's where was Tim (Goldsworthy) was amazing because he just ducked down, when we sat down there was a lot of demos flying around and a lot of very different sounding songs that I knew what I wanted but no one else managed to share my vision and Tim totally got it.

He knew what to do and so we went in the studio in Bristol for about six weeks and just re-recorded everything and so that made me get to that. Some of the songs are not that far from the demo and some songs are completely reworked, but they needed to come together and get this cohesiveness that was probably my main personal dispute with the first album. So that was really important and I think doing it in the same room with the same person, the same sense and everything that's what people are hearing.

In the future and if there was an ideal world, would you try and do it all with one person and try to have that sort of writing experience?

I would definitely like do it or at least to try it but then I think also for me, I really as a writer bounce off other people and I'm terrible at writing songs on my own I go crazy. So I need different people to bounce off and maybe if you just got it down with one person it wouldn't make it as interesting? I don't know, certainly I'd like to try and see, but I don't know at the same time I know a lot of cool writers I like working with. Maybe you need those people to kind of bounce off you and make the album more varied or something. But I'd really like to try that, just go to one place and do a whole record.

Was there anyone that you didn't get to work with this time around, that you might try to in the future?

I was really amazed and so happy about getting to work with the loads of people I did, that I was huge fans of them anyway. But I mean it would be cool, now this is going to seem to be getting big again, it would be really cool to work with someone like Stuart Price or Daft Punk or someone quite easy like that. That's like the dream, getting out a disco record with someone like that would be fun.

I remember when I first read about you years ago and a lot of people were talking about all the different instruments you use from Japanese toys all the way just to straightforward piano. Was there anything special that you got to play with for producing this record?

Well for production Tim has just got, his studio's like a mad professor's laboratory he's just got the most amazing gear everywhere, there's just wires coming out of every wall and he's got the mad professor kit. So he's got tonnes of great gear which is really cool to play with and I think that's what gives you that warm sound.

You know 99% of the sounds on the record are analogue and are made live, I think everyone is doing stuff on computers and using the same software and a lot of the electronic records are just sounding really similar, so it was cool to be able to use all this old gear and get this kind of warm, old, slightly wonky sound through everything. As for live, I'm actually developing a new Japanese prototype, I was just in Tokyo last week and met the guy who's designing it and I'm not sure it's going to be ready for live shows, it's this crazy kind of 3D light box thing called a 'Poco Poco'. I'm not sure if it's too unstable to tour with, we're trying to develop it for the show that'll be really cool.

Speaking of touring are there any plans to get you down here in Australia?

We're really hoping to, I mean last time we did the Parklife tour which was great because you know you just kind of jump on that tour and get to go to all these places, so we'll see what comes up really. We're just about to head out to the U.S and then do some U.K stuff and festivals in the summer. But I'd really like to so, hopefully you know if we come over, we're thinking of coming to asia and then we could tie it in with some australian dates, that would be really cool.

Definitely I remember getting to see you, I think it was 2009 at Parklife and it was great shows, a great reception from the crowd. I imagine though you're show has changed a little bit since then.

God that tour was funny, my parents came and it was so funny I just remember hanging out with my dad. Yeah it has changed I mean a lot of the new stuff actually really lends itself to playing live because it's less produced, so it's not like a lot of pop where you just throw the kitchen sink at it, it's actually you know we made sure that we sound diverse. We can pretty much play it live which is really fun, we got some new gear.

I think it's more of a dancey kind of disco show now, a lot of the stuff that's mixed in feels a little bit more grown-up, but a bit more fun as well as a bit less stop start pop dance. It's more like a lot of synths and a lot of cool dancey stuff so I think it's going to be fun. I've been trailing things you know like visual, something live for the show, we're talking about some crazy fashion ideas. Yeah I think once we get it up and running it'll be really about getting the audience in, it'll be really really cool.

Well best of luck with the release of the album, congratulations on it and yeah hopefully we get to see you in Australia sometime soon.

Yeah I really hope so, thank you so much, have a good evening.