Remember 2009 when you couldn’t check a music blog without seeing the name Victoria “Little Boots” Hesketh littered several thousand times throughout the page? Remember when her debut album, Hands, was met with critical acclaim and the hype surrounding the British electrobabe nearly reached Lady Gaga-esque proportions? We do… sort of. But then it seemed that just as quickly, she fell off the face of the planet (or at least off Pitchfork’s homepage).
Fear not, because there is a perfectly logical explanation for all this. Unfulfilled by the strictly business manner in which her first album came to fruition, this time around Little Boots wanted to make something a little more edgy, a little more coherent and, ultimately, really goddamn good. Enter Nocturnes (out today), the album The Guardian is already calling “one of the pop records of the year” (thanks in part to its producer, DFA mastermind Tim Goldsworthy). We caught up with the lovely Brit to chat about the album, DJing, and the changing landscape of electronic music.
Why such a long wait between Hands and Nocturnes?
I was really busy. I’ve been writing, recording and I’ve still been touring. It’s difficult because to everybody else I look like I’ve been doing nothing for three years but to me I’ve been really busy! A lot of it was finding production for the new album. Things were complicated with my old label and they weren’t going in the direction I wanted them to go in. I knew I wanted to do something different from last time. It wasn’t just a case of call up these people and book it, it was more like how do I keep this sound and this vision that I’ve got. It’s difficult to pick the person who’s going to get you straight away so I tried out different sessions with different people and eventually I found Tim [Goldsworthy], about a year ago. My record label at the time didn’t really agree with the direction I wanted to go with it, it wasn’t mainstream enough, so it ended up taking another year before I got a new label.
What did Tim’s production bring to the record?
Oh it brings so much. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of every record you can think of and his studio is amazing. It’s like a mad scientist laboratory. I’d go in with the melodies and the songs and lyrics and ideas for how the record would sound and together we’d build it.
I read that your goal was to make a more coherent album. Is there a common thread or narrative that runs through all of the tracks?
I think I meant that more on a sonic level. I wanted you to get that feel like when you listen to classic albums that I love; where you can tell they were recorded in the same place at the same time and with the same people. With modern pop albums now they just throw the songs together and it felt a bit like that with my first record. There were songs produced by Joe from Hot Chip next to songs produced by RedOne and you can tell there’s no artistic vision or cohesion there. It was really important to me that it all came from the same place.
When you released Hands, electropop was at its height and there was a huge wave of female electropop artists like Lady Gaga. How do you think the dance music landscape has changed and how have you responded?
I think it’s changed a lot. Now, electronic dance music is pop music and all the songs on the radio, especially in America, sound like that. I think with the way it’s gone there’s a few really great pop songs that I think are brilliant, like David Guetta’s Titanium, but for every good one there’s ten really unimaginative, derivative copies. At some point this bubble is going to burst. For a while I was scared because I make pop music and dance music and electronic music, and I don’t really feel comfortable doing that, so what am I going to do? It took me a while to realize that just because I want to make dance pop it doesn’t have to sound like everything else that’s on the radio. I can do it in my own way.
James Ford (of Simian Mobile Disco) and Andy Butler (of Hercules and Love Affair) are on the album as well. How did these collaborations come about?
Pretty naturally. I always think the best things just happen by happy accident. Andy happened to be at one of my shows in San Francisco and we got chatting. James I’ve known for years. We have the same manager and he actually recorded my first band’s first demo. All the collaborations on this album happened through something very… normal. The first album was very much a record label ringing up a publishing company and saying, “who have we got? Let’s put you in the studio with this person.” It was very manufactured. It’s kind of difficult to write in that situation. If it’s a friend or you’ve got some kind of connection it’s going to be that much easier; you’re going to be on the same page and share the same ideas.
You’ve been DJing a lot. What have you been playing lately?
It’s a lot of disco… or disco edits at least, a lot of old house music, like late ’80s early ’90s house is really fun and my own remixes. There’s a DJ called Maya Jane Coles who I love, I play lots of her stuff, there’s some disco edits by Dimitri from Paris and Todd Terje.
What sorts of gigs are you drawn to as a DJ?
I quite prefer parties and fashion events because they’re fun and people aren’t taking it so seriously. If you play some of the clubs at three in the morning it can be very intense.
What are your summer plans?
I’m going to be doing some festivals: Glastonbury and a bunch of stuff around Europe. We’re touring the states in May and hopefully we’ll be back after the summer. I’ll be in Ibiza, that will be really fun. I’m hoping to get back in the studio as well because I think that was one of the biggest mistakes I made last time. I just couldn’t get myself in the studio because I didn’t have time or I was tired or I wasn’t in a creative headspace and I wish I would have kept writing and recording while I was touring. Maybe I would have had this album done a lot sooner.