SPG caught up with Ellie Jackson, better known to you and I as La Roux. The lady with the soprano voice and huge rise to fame still has her feet firmly on the ground. In 2009 she was nominated for a Mercury prize and her single, Bulletproof reached top spot number one. As the New Year begins we wonder what more is in store for the extraordinary…
La Roux Interview by Andy Fuller
So 2009 was quite a successful year for La Roux – how do you think it’s changed you?
I’ve tried really hard not to let it. It’s just sort of a matter of everyday being really aware of, you know, not behaving any differently or anything like that. It’s easy when you have everything at your (sort of) disposal. You know, when you ask for something usually and you get it. But it’s (sort of) trying to forget that and especially not to abuse that.
Sort of being grateful for what you have?
You’ve got to still be as normal as you can or you’ll just go mad.
What do you think have been the highs and the lows of the last 12 – 18 months?
Um…I don’t really think there have been many lows. I guess, lows are sort of when you just get really really stressed or you get a bit homesick. That’s usually the sort of lows I get. But I guess the highs have been – being nominated for the Mercury Prize and playing some amazing gigs at festivals in Europe and Australia. Plus the album coming out and Bulletproof getting to number one. I suppose they’re the top ones.
Do you prefer playing the bigger gigs, or the smaller, more intimate club shows?
I definitely prefer playing bigger gigs. Smaller gigs are a lot more intense and you feel a lot more watched. With large audiences, it’s easier to get into character, and to perform, and you’ve got more stage to use. Someone was saying, “Don’t you find it more scary performing to more people?” and I said, “Well, no, because the more people you perform to it’s more affirming.” It’s like you’ve got a much friendlier audience on your side; if that many people are coming to see you, you know you’re doing something right.
I understand. So what are your favourite venues you’ve played at, if you had to pick three in different countries?
We did a really great gig in – I’m trying to think if it was Sydney or Melbourne. Shepherd’s Bush is a really good venue, and the Forum is cool, just because it’s really old and ‘theatrey’ and it was really nice.
When you get the odd day off, what do you do?
Sometimes I use that time to shop, and to get stuff for being on tour with; not necessarily stage clothes, but stuff for wearing around. When I’m in London, even if I’m working, it’s kind of time off because I’m not away. What usually ends up happening is it usually gets filled up with meetings and photo shoots and things like that, and I have meetings about new clothes we’re going to make or design or whatever. Or I just have a really kind of ‘home’ day, and I’ll just go shopping, cook some things all afternoon, or just have a day at home and watch a film or something.
What are your shops of choice?
Well, they’re all vintage shops really, and then obviously sometimes a girl needs to buy underwear and stuff like that, basics really; so occasionally I could be seen in Marks and Spencer’s. Warn the paparazzi to stalk out M&S. Yeah.
What things have you been wearing this winter, other than M&S underwear?
I’m liking tapestry. kind of Tudor; regal kind of thing for me this winter, like hats, suede and big jackets.
So what do you think has been the most random thing that’s happened to La Roux on tour?
I share my room with Mickey, my keyboard player because I don’t like being on my own. Mickey’s like my best mate, and I’ll wake up sometimes and she won’t be there; she just won’t be in the hotel room, and I’m like, “where’s she gone?” She’s mad; she’s always off doing something. She just called our room two weeks ago and went, “Yeah? Hello?” And I was like, “Hello?” She said “Who’s this?” And I was like, “You called me, what do you mean who’s this?” And she was like, “Oh yeah, Ellie.” I asked “Where are you?” And she replied, “Ooohhh…I couldn’t get into the room when I came back last night, and now I’m in someone else’s room but I don’t know whose room it is; I’m on the floor.” So I was like, “Okay…” And she was like, “I don’t know whose room it is; I’m going to call you in a minute!” And then she comes stumbling into the room, like five minutes later. When I said, “Whose room were you in?” she was like, “Crystal Castles!” Apparently she couldn’t get into my room, so Crystal Castle’s crew had carried her into their room and put her in their bed and they slept on the floor or something. And she woke up in the morning and in the middle of the night she’d hung her trousers up in the bathroom; like she was just so drunk, and just woke up in Crystal Castle’s room. They were really pissed off because she’d stolen their bed. It was quite funny! There was no sex involved in that story, just so you know! (laughs)
What are you most looking forward to on your next tour?
Having a bigger stage setup I think. Just generally sort of adding to it. Constantly making it as much of a show as we can, from the outfits changing and all that kind of thing; you know, making it better. That’s what I always get excited about. So it’s about having the complete package? Yeah, yeah.
How do you find the big outdoor festivals?
I love those gigs; they’re so good because there’s an atmosphere at festivals that you can’t recreate anywhere, not even in the biggest venues. It’s the whole thing of being involved in it for a whole weekend, or even if it’s just a day. You’re in it from morning till night and you will become part of the fencing and the camaraderie at the festival. Everyone’s wanting the same thing out of the day; everyone just wants to be entertained. There’s a really great atmosphere at a festival, which is why artists love playing them; because you get this euphoric buzz in the air. Especially when you get a gig at like a sunset or something! Bestival is insane; the whole crowd is in fancy dress! It was space themed, so everyone was dressed as robots and aliens; it was really weird; really really weird.
If you could have any people, living or dead, on a festival line-up, whom would you have as your dream line-up?
Michael Jackson, David Bowie… I need to think about this… I’d have my mate Nadia because I love her DJing; I’d have The Knife… I’d have to have a really big band, like maybe Tears For Fears.
Are there going to be any kind of cool La Roux covers on the upcoming dates at all?
There will be eventually, I don’t know about this tour yet, but they won’t be covers that people know. I mean, I’ll always announce it as a cover; I’m not going to try and pretend it’s my song, but they’re sort of like old disco tracks that I really like and stuff like that. I just adore singing and they’re just some of my favourite tracks, but they’re not necessarily ones people will know.
So what can people expect from the bigger La Roux shows during 2010. Is it going to be bigger stage routines and bigger pyros and things?
Yeah, I don’t want it to get too massive because that’s not what we are. I want it to still have that dance, sort of slight rave/club element to it, you know; so I don’t ever want it to get too shiny. But I just think it’s about me getting more comfortable on stage, working out more rigid routines…not rigid routines, but, you know, there’s certain things you do in certain songs where you go “yeah, that’s worth repeating because it really works” or whatever. Just little things that you figure out as you go along; it’s just naturally grown. And making the lights better and getting the light routines better with the song, all that stuff, you know, that we’re thinking about all the time. The stuff that is ongoing; trying to improve it.
Thank you for your time Ellie.
Thank you very much.
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