Earlier this month TLC chatted with The Big Sound of 2009 Victoria Hasketh, better known as Little Boots, before the sound check of her show at Brooklyn’s Studio B. I will be honest in stating that we were not quite sure what to expect from the artist who, with just a handful of completed songs, has shaken the industry, fans, and the blogosphere to the core.
The night of the interview Victoria was visibly upset with the technical difficulties encountered with the Tenori-On, but this quickly changed when she was at the edge of her seat and eager to discuss new projects. Like her music, Hasketh is multi-layered and very hands on — a quality that deserves a lot of praise in this day and age of music. With what some may call questionable pleasures (Ashlee Simpson, italo disco, unicorns, cheesecake) Little Boots is carving her own brand of “experimental pop.” From the overall look, sound and packaging of the final product, the Little Boots name is stamped all over it.
Look out for the full-length debut album this summer (at press time, recording has completed), featuring collaborations with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip, Greg Kurstin, Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco, and Phil Oakey of Human League! Check out our coverage of the Studio B show HERE!
> Hi Victoria, we’re not going to ask where the name Little Boots comes from..
(Laughs) That’s great!
> How are you enjoying New York?
God…just a bit stressed. I just want everything to work, you know? The whole idea of the live show is to pull together the entire vision onstage and if one thing goes wrong I get so upset.
> Oh, are you having issues with the Tenori-On?
Yeah, the cable is broken and you can only get it with the purchase. We found someone in LA who loaned us one but we had to give it back. So we basically we have to find someone in NY who has one. You can’t buy it in America, and only really really geeky people have them.
> Hopefully it works out, but your show will be amazing regardless. Have you had any time to hang out in the city at all?
A little bit. We went shopping a bit today, had an interview with Vogue, and then we just hung out in the hotel. We’re gonna do a bit more shopping tomorrow and go to “the best cheese cake place in New York.” I love cheesecake, it’s Puff Daddy’s favorite.
> Oh, Juniors! They have like a million different kinds too.
I love cheesecake, we went to Economy Candy today too.
> It’s been beautiful in New York today, thankfully. Were you there for the snow in London?
Yeah thank God. I was in LA during the snow in London but I’m kind of glad because it’s fun for a day, but then everything stops.
> So, everybody came to know you as a former member of the band Dead Disco..
…Everybody being about 100 people (All laugh)
> Well in the blogosphere I suppose. How does it feel to step out on your own now?
It’s very nice to not have to get everything passed and agreed upon by all members in a group. A lot of times it would be two against one, so I ended up going with what everybody else wanted. Now, I can be more spontaneous and not have to say ‘Is it okay if I do this?‘ because it’s only me.
It feels great and really natural, but at the same time there’s more pressure because there’s only [myself] to blame. But I have complete control over everything now, and that to me is most important.
> You were also in a Jazz band, what was that experience like? Did it also prepare you for this?
Oh yeah, it was amazing to play in theme parks in Europe with a big band. It’s kind of geeky and embarrassing but it was an amazing experience, seriously. (Laughs) …So now I’ll be getting flack from the hipsters, but whatever.
It was kind of weird because in the band you’re playing other people’s songs, it’s also wallpaper music which means that nobody can talk. I got used to playing hotel lobbies and restaurants and I made lots of money. Being in a band with 30 people and playing piano by myself was definitely character-building.
> You were also on Pop Idol at the age of 16, right?
Yes…it was stupid. I just did it because I thought it’d be a shortcut out of my hometown. It was one of those things that was the best thing that never happened. I cried when I didn’t make it through and felt like my life was a terrible scene in a movie, but then you just gotta pick yourself up.
Right now, obviously, it would have been the worst thing in the world because it’s so not me. I was young and living in a town that is not London and not New York. There weren’t loads of musicians or incredible opportunities. I was like ‘Oh my God, how can I get to that? How can I get there?‘ You realize there is no short cut. I got over it, all the things before this were just character building.
> One thing I respect and appreciate about you is your very open affinity for pop music. I appreciate that you mention other artists that other people frown upon…
> Ashlee Simpson.
Yeah! Outta My Head, what a track. Actually I really liked the whole of the new album (Bittersweet World).
> I did too!
The song with Plain White T’s “Whoa….” (sings Little Miss Obsessive)
> Little Miss Obsessive? Rulebreaker is also another a good one.
I don’t remember what the titles are, but I love, La La and Outta My Head. Have you heard that?
> See that’s great because in the ‘indie’ scene it’s all taken as ironic.
If I like a song, then I like it. I can’t bother being ironic. The most ironic thing for me is that the “cool people”‘ like me and write about me, I find that to be ironic. I’m like the biggest nerd on the planet. I thought it was hilarious when Pitchfork invited me to play their show. I was like “Yeah I’ll do it, it’s great!” but then I’m like “Are you sure? Are you really sure…do you get it?” And they’re like “Yeah Yeah.” [My music] could be this cool thing but I don’t care if it is or not; just that people are liking it.
> It could be your own inside joke.
Shhh…nobody knows. (All laugh)
> Music and lyrics: What is your creative process?
I don’t really have a set way, it’s always different. There will be times when it’s just me and the piano in my room or there will be times where I could be dreaming and I’ll get a lyric idea. I could be in the studio with someone messing around, someone could send over a track. There is no set way at all. I feel like the more I do it, the more I get a method. But it’s always what feels right with the track. You never know where it’s going to go.
> When you’re collaborating with someone does that change?
I love working with people, it’s exciting because I write on my own when I’m at home. It’s kind of unique and nice when [the collaborator] is like “Oh that sounds good” or “What do you think of this?” See, I come from a band and I’m used to writing with other people. You might think of something you might never have, or that person could inspire something you might never have thought of on your own.
It’s an interesting opportunity; not being narrow minded. But the worst thing would be if people thought “Oh, she got cough co-writing.” You know where someone will cough and get a writing credit. But I don’t care what people think as long as I know that I write and play and do not cough produce. I know how much of it is me and I think you can hear that in the songs. I really like collaborating with people, it’s one of my favorite things.
> Are there any artists that would be your dream collaborators?
Most of them have come true so far with Greg Kurstin, who’s amazing. Joe [Goddard] from Hot Chip was always someone I would love to have worked with, and I have. Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco, I’ve got Phil Oakey from Human League singing on one track, which is like a complete dream come true as I’ve loved Human League for so long. I feel that I already have such a well rounded vibe on the album so far.
> Songs like Stuck on Repeat are so layered and atmospheric that when I hear them it sort of transports me and takes me to another place…
That’s really good.
> I can’t wait to see that song live, I wonder how the crowd will react.
Yeah I hope people are dancing and it’s not just the hipster thing where everyone just stands there and nods.
> With your MySpace, blog, Twitter and YouTube channel, you seem to be very accessible. Is that something you set out to do or is it a reaction to the industry?
The blog is something I started because originally when I first started on this project, I was quite shut off and recording. It was a way for me to put this out there and expose the process of getting to this big shiny pop stuff and brings it all together. I’m from a big family and I just like to share and get reactions too. When you make something, you have this will to share. Quite like if you paint a picture, you don’t want to keep it hanging up in your room.
The YouTube channel is just for fun. The videos are so shit and full of mistakes and poorly recorded. The minute they start being polished and planned it will totally lose the real and rawness of it. Part of my people wanted to turn it into a televison show and all sorts, but it would have totally ruined it. I hate that people think its some sort of marketing scheme of the label made me do it because its totally not that.
> Yeah, everything’s changing. The industry is changing…
Exactly. These outlets are the most direct connection, as it’s being powered by the artists…sorry about the drums! You don’t have to go through the label of press. I can’t be bothered.
When they listen to the songs they might be able to connect with the faceless pop music and have a different experience, with having been a bit acquainted with the work and process.
> We covered lyrics, sound and the technological aspects of your music but a major component of what makes you Little Boots is the fashion, images and artwork. Can you tell us a bit about how you choose to represent yourself?
The artwork starts from the airbrushed pieces with crystals, unicorns and mythological creatures. A lot of it is also inspired by disco and space age. That is the starting point. (Laughs) We just totally worked with it and went like too far. It’s so epic and I think you could kind of hopefully see my sense of humor in it because it’s so ridiculous that it’s a bit funny. I mean, I’m on a horse with laser beams. It’s meant to tie in the whole spacey fantasy and escapism. I’m really into escapism and a sense of magic, fantasy and space. The clothes tie in the artwork with the use of shapes, which all ultimately build off of the music.
> It all ties in together like the braid, which I love.
I don’t know if I’ll be doing the braid tonight.
> So tell us a bit about your DJ sets, what are some of your favorite songs to play?
Day and Night by Kid Cudi…
> That’s a great one.
(Laughs) Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy. I play a lot of Italo Disco songs. There’s one called Magical Body by Los Angeles TF which is great. There’s a band called Heartbreak, Free Blood. Hot Chip remixes, old stuff like Madonna and Bonnie Tyler.
> Well that’s about it I guess. Oh wait, the album!
I don’t have a name yet and I don’t know when it’s coming out yet.
> How far along are you in the process?
85 percent. Hopefully we’ll be all done by the end of February. The UK release date will be in the summer hopefully.
> Are you recording in London or LA?
London and LA, actually.
> Okay well, thanks so much for chatting with us. We’re excited to see you hit the stage.
Thank you so much, it was really nice to meet you too!