Giant steps - Little Boots interview
With her upcoming tour Little Boots faces the tough job of living up to a year’s worth of hype and anticipation. Claire Sawers finds her ready to face the music
Little Boots is mid-fib when her phone signal cuts out. She’s on the motorway, heading towards the Reading Festival, and she is livening up her early morning interview by colouring in a few of her answers. She was just explaining where she got her tenori-on from – the Japanese instrument that looks like an Etch A Sketch covered in flashing lights. ‘I was on an island, digging this hole in the sand, when I saw some glowing lights. I kept digging, and was like, “Wow!” There it was, the tenori-on. I can totally understand why people take metal detectors down Blackpool beach.’
Little Boots, Boots, or Victoria Hesketh, depending on how well you know her, loves the idea that musical instruments are washed up on desert islands, and that pop stars come from outer space, just like Ziggy Stardust. It might not be as fun as the sci-fi version of her story, but the truth is she’s a 26-year-old girl from Blackpool who grew up reading fantasy novels, listening to Human League, and briefly singing in an electropop band called Dead Disco, before she got signed last year. She was hailed as the future of pop – winning the BBC Sound of 2009 Poll and a Brit nomination – before she’d even put a record out.
A lot of the hype was created by a Later … With Jools Holland appearance where she sang a beautifully quirky version of her song ‘Meddle’, accompanied by stylophone, tenori-on and piano. Then there were the YouTube videos she made, in her pyjamas, singing Hot Chip, MGMT and Madonna covers in her bedroom.
Compared with those DIY days, where twinkly keys and gadget geekery gave her sound a home-made, electronic charm, the slick synthpop and polished girlband beats of her first album, Hands sound light years away from well, a year ago. ‘I never wanted to do a Kate Nash,’ she points out. ‘I didn’t want to make something that sounded twee and DIY. My album was in production while I was making those videos. I’ve always loved the combination of sounds from the past and the future. I like that weird, futuristic mix of different kinds of technology.’
When she plays Edinburgh’s Picture House next month, she’ll be bringing her tenori-on and a mini-theremin, plus a tambourine, cow bell and an ‘extended ravey’ version of her song ‘Mathematics’.
‘Live music should be physical and visual, and let you get interactive with the crowd,’ she says. As a fan of Jean-Michel Jarre and Giorgio Moroder, she wants to have as much fun with the visual side as the beats.
‘We’re living in a digital age, and if you ignore that, you’re ignoring a gigantic part of culture.’ Like Kylie, Alison Goldfrapp or Lykke Li before her, her pop package is as much about the plaited hair and shiny frocks as the tunes. ‘I’m not a cutesy girl, I prefer that space-age vibe when I perform. I like that I can dress up in sparkly clothes and have a dance, but I can combine that with the mechanics of the music too.’
Little Boots plays the HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Sun 25 Oct.