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La Roux

Written by Jesse Hayward on January 13, 2010

London-based electropop duo La Roux head back to Australia in March to hitch a ride on the Bacardi Express tour. Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid are the two hands at work on this startling electronica. Here we present an interview with Elly Jackson.

This is the second time you’ve visited Australia in the last 6 months, what is it about Australia that keeps you coming back?

The crowd. Everyone at our Parklife shows were amazing, we were completely overwhelmed by the response we got at both Parklife and our sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Bacardi Express train features a jamming carriage, dining carriage, chill out lounge, gaming room and sleeper carriages – where onboard do you reckon you’ll spend most of your time?

Knowing my band, probably the dining carriage and the chill out lounge. I wouldn’t say I’m that much of a jamming person, I like to play piano when nobody’s watching….but who knows??

What do you plan to get up to in Coffs Harbour (home of the Big Banana)?

Qu’est que c’est the Big Banana? Sounds interesting…. I’ll check it out….

How about the coastal town of Newcastle?

I was there yesterday! Newcastle in the north of England though. It was very cold and rainy, I hope the Australian Newcastle is a bit sunnier!

There has been an increase of illegal downloads of La Roux music in Australia since your recent visit. How do you feel about online music and the Peer2Peer sharing mechanics? Good or bad for the creators of music?

Illegal downloading has become a joke. I have a section on my MySpace that is connected to a downloading debate with Lily Allen and other artists on this very matter. It’s a difficult time for emerging artists.

For those who missed out on seeing you at Parklife, what can they expect from your live show?

Flying monkeys and unicycling, what’s in your live show?

There has been some controversy surrounding Britney Spear’s Australian tour and lip-syncing. Do you think it’s OK for some artists to lip-sync depending on their onstage performance, or should all performers be able to deliver everything they can live?

Yes, I think you should be able to do your set live. People have come to see you sing live, not mime. There are certain TV promo things where you’ll mime for technical reasons but it’s rare. If the reason behind miming is because of intense dance routines then essentially you’re going to see a dancer not a singer aren’t you? I think they should lessen the dancing and let the dancers do it and they should focus on delivering a song. The problem is that some people can’t sing that well live and so they cover it with dancing, let’s be honest! I’d want my money back, or at least a warning when I bought my ticket.

There’s some varying electro sounds in your music, what are La Roux’s influences?

Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, The Knife, Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie, Eurthymics.

How do Australian fans differ from your UK fans?

I’ve only done one Australian tour so it’s difficult to tell, but the response we had here was brilliant.

How would you describe your music style / genre in one sentence?

Synth pop apparently?

How do songs come about? Is there a sole songwriter or is it a team effort?

With me and Ben, it’s definitely a team effort, we talk extensively about all the lyrics and sounds and care very much about the songs.

Where do you draw inspiration for your songs?

Personal experiences.

Do you write songs about any person in particular? (A jaded ex or unyielding parents, etc?)

Yes, the songs are about certain individuals.

If you could collaborate with any artist (past or present) who would you collaborate with and why?

We’re doing a collaboration with Heaven 17 which I think will be really interesting, Ben and I are massive fans. My fantasy collaboration has got to be Bowie though.

Is there anyone you wouldn’t want to collaborate with?

I’m definitely not answering that! I’ll get myself in to all sorts of trouble.

Your video clips are quite popular (Bulletproof receiving over 2 million plays on YouTube), what has been your favourite video clip to make? Why?

I’m Not Your Toy. We spent the day in a footballer’s wives type mansion with a pool and loads of tropical plants. Loads of my mates were in the video too, it was the most fun video I’ve made I think.

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What were some of the challenges you faced when making the clips?

A very long day, getting very very hot!

You’ve got an iconic look, particularly your hair. Do you have a routine to maintaining your quiff? What does this image mean to you?

The quiff came about kind of by mistake, it was a gradual development. It requires a lot of hairspray but I’ve got the routine down to about 15 minutes.

You said in another interview that you co-design your clothes with a friend, what is the name of your clothing brand and how did that come about?

We don’t have a brand or anything like that, it’s just me and my designer friend Nova. We’ll pick material out and make things, or we’ll go shopping for vintage or vintage designer clothes together. And we have just started to collaborate with designers like Basso and Brooke, Gucci, and Otswald Helgason.

What has been your favourite music experience to date?

Seeing Prince live at the O2 in London.

What has been the most surreal music experience to date?

The Top Shop launch in New York earlier this year. It was in this TINY old prohibition type venue called the box and Kevin Spacey was doing a cabaret act, Jennifer Lopez got her knickers in a twist about a handkerchief falling on her head and I met Debbie Harry. The MC was a half naked transvestite dressed as a devil. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time.

You’re the daughter of a well-known English actor [Trudie Goodwin AKA June Ackland from The Bill], was there anyone in your family that was into music (either a music lover or musician themselves) and influenced you in your music?

Yes, my mum and dad both have great taste in music. My dad plays blues guitar and boogie woogie on the piano. He taught me the guitar and introduced me to stuff like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake.

What’s next for La Roux after Bacardi Express?

Um… I think we go to America… again…..

Headliners La Roux will be joined by Art vs Science, Yves Klein Blue, Miami Horror and The Cassette Kids, with DJ support from Sampology completing the line up on board the Bacardi Express 2010. Check out the website for full details.

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