La Roux Awakening
Published October 28, 2010
LA ROUX’S ELLY JACKSON. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERRYTREE RECORDS.
It’s been over a year since electropop duo La Roux dropped its self-titled album, and the pair’s sound keeps gaining steam stateside. Singles like “I’m Not Your Toy” and “In For the Kill” have found their way to the dance floor and recording studio, as fodder for remixes and covers from unexpected fans like Kanye West and Dinosaur Jr.’s Lou Barlow. And can you guess what La Roux song Chris Martin plays during his yoga practice?
Elly Jackson, La Roux’s fantastically Tin Tin-haired singer, caught up with us by e-mail ahead of La Roux’s US fall tour, which kicks off November 1. KIMBERLY CHOU: Congrats on the new tour. Do you consider this a continuation of Gold Tour, where you unfortunately had to postpone some US dates because of illness, or something separate? Anything new—new music, stage sets, perhaps special guests—that fans should look forward to?
ELLY JACKSON: Yes, this is a continuation of the Gold Tour. I think fans will want to see what they originally bought tickets for, and we are really proud of the Gold Tour setup. We have a few new songs, but they are not ready to perform or take on tour yet, unfortunately.
CHOU: We love your cover of the Stones’ “Under My Thumb.” Can we expect any other covers in your live set this tour?
JACKSON: No, I think I would only ever do one cover per tour, and as this is just a continuation, we will be keeping “Under My Thumb,” as I still really enjoy performing it, and it will be the last time I do so for a while.
CHOU: Can you tell us a bit about the new remix EP for “In for the Kill”? How did the different remixes come about?
JACKSON: We ask different people to remix our tracks as different remixes to suit different tastes. We then pick our favourites. It’s always interesting hearing your song in a different context. With the Kanye remix, though, he got in touch with us as he had liked La Roux for a while and wanted to do something, and we were very intrigued to see what it would be like. The EP is just a good way of showcasing all these remixes in one place, as a package, and is something else for the fans.
CHOU: What was it like working with Kanye West—regarding his guest verse on the “In for the Kill” remix, and your yet-unreleased collaboration on his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy?
JACKSON: Working with Kanye was really interesting, he’s a very motivated, ambitious guy with a lot of ideas and is obviously extremely talented. It was nice to be around someone that hasn’t lost their passion and wants to keep the industry on its toes, not just go along with it and take the money. He really wants to make music that has heart and soul and stands up above the rest and seems to have as much integrity and ambition as I’m sure he did when he started. There aren’t a great deal of artists like that and I respect him for that. The stuff I did for his record wasn’t so much of a collaboration but more of a guest vocal. This was an odd concept for me at first, as I don’t really do that, but he explained that he wanted to use what he felt were some of the best/his favourite vocalists from around the world and use their vocal textures together to make something really special. I doubled some Alicia Keys vocals on one track for instance, and it sounded incredible. He thinks outside the box like that a lot.
CHOU: And what was it like filming the video for “In for the Kill” at the Chelsea Hotel? I love how the video plays on the culture and symbolism of the Chelsea as a place for all of these very different people, and its (charming!) seediness. Where did the idea to film at the hotel, and the idea for the treatment, come from?
JACKSON: “Legs,” the directors, came up with the treatment. It’s called “love hotel,” so you’ll have to ask them where exactly the idea came from, but hopefully it was inspired by the fact that I’m obviously a night porter/brothel owner/pimp who likes a bit of old-school naughty! I was instantly drawn to it over the other treatments I had been sent because of the visual references. They were so fitting aesthetically for the way I see La Roux now, with the development of the Gold Tour especially, which is based on a 1930’s hotel lobby. I don’t like videos that are about the subject matter of the song, and this just seemed like it would be a video I would want to watch. I like videos where what is going on is not entirely clear and this video is just sexy and seedy but still classy, slick and classic.
CHOU: Your album keeps gaining traction stateside, a year since it was released, and in very different ways — the inclusion of “In for the Kill” on Entourage, obviously, was huge. Are there any fans you’ve heard about or met that you wouldn’t have expected — Kanye West perhaps, or Lou Barlow from Dinosaur Jr? (Who, I’ve heard, does a great acoustic cover of “Bulletproof.”)
JACKSON: Yep, those ones weren’t exactly at the top of my fan expectation list! Chris Martin said he did yoga to “Colourless Colour,” again, not something I really contemplated while writing the record. It is incredible the different types of people that come out and say they love the record, from whole families having it as their holiday CD to taxi drivers. It’s a loveIy feeling. I never wanted our music to be something just one trend of person liked, although I knew it had to start out like that.