Words by JENZ
Photo of La Roux in Brooklyn by Jon Dudding
For a 21 year old being touted by international media as a fresh face of electronic music, La Roux’s Elly Jackson has a pretty good head on her shoulders. The Brixton native, who with band mate Ben Langmaid comprise the duo, carries the interview out more like a conversation between friends than for a publication, and also isn’t afraid to swear.
Playing five dates on her mini-States tour, the red-headed one stopped in San Francisco to play Popscene as part of the Club NME series — a rag of which she has also been fawned over. But the show that night proved there are some truths behind the chops. Jackson took a bit to warm up to the crowd, playing closer songs “I’m Not Your Toy” and “Bulletproof” with more enthusiasm, dancing with her beats and facing out into the crowd more. She teased the audience by leaning into the front row almost tauntingly. “Which one of you is gonna have this up on YouTube tomorrow?” she asked before screams of confirmation answered her question.
We chatted with her pre-show, and in addition to her amicable nature, she also was very cool about our extreme stuttering problem from a lack of coffee.
“God, I’m so sorry I keep fucking up these questions,” I said apologetically. “Thank you for being patient.”
“Oh, no worries,” Jackson responded. “The point is that you get them right. I’d much rather have you say it the way you want to.”
Five Questions For La Roux
How much hair product do you think you use a month to get hair as awesome as yours?
Oh, wow, I don’t know. In a month, usually one can of mousse, intense mousse. You don’t need much wax but there’s that, and also very strong hairspray.
You’re an electronic powerhouse now, but you used to be more inclined to folk music when you first started out.
It wasn’t like we decided to electronic music out of the blue or anything. It just happened really naturally. My dad taught me guitar from the age of 6 and I was introduced to all music: rock and blues, folk. As a kid I liked Joni Mitchell a lot. I guess it was just kind of natural to write in that style. I wrote songs from the age of 12 and that’s where I pulled inspiration from. If you think about it, Paul Simon is pretty synthy — and you can quote me on that — people like Stevie Wonder also can fall into this. When I met Ben I’d written a lot of songs in a folk kind of area, and the more we wrote together, it just became a bit passé to us and we took it out of the tracks to start to go more dance.
For you, where is the line between creating original content and paying tribute?
I think there is a bit of both in what we do. It’s kind of annoyed me when people have taken the 50s or the 60s [to incorporate into their music], and people don’t bat an eyelid, but when you put the 80s in, people go, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I mean, you weren’t there in the 50s, and then the counter is “But don’t you like rock and roll?” It’s like the 80s have this tainted thing on it. There is a lot of the revival of the leggings and spandex and American Apparel going on, but there was a classy cool romantic appeal that we’re appealing to, not the neon part. More Tears For Fears side.
While I was doing research I found there’s actually a band called LeRoux, which describes themselves as “Southern Rock/New Orleans Funk/Classic Rock/Power Ballad band with excellent harmonies, tight musicianship.” How do you differ?
Sounds like a big jerk off to me. What a bunch of assholes. Who says that about themselves?!
They do! On their own website, even.
That’s so contradictive as well, all the descriptions. Why do you need to write it down when it’s…ah, never mind (laughs).
Since you guys just got off a UK tour with her, is Lily Allen as horrible as she’s made out to be?
Do people think she is horrible? (laughs) To say what we think…like, when everyone else does that in their friend group, they’re not seen as bad. But when it’s written down and the facial expression is done, then it gets taken out of context. If one of your friends said it, you wouldn’t even remember if it sounds horrible or bitchy. She’s really not like that at all. But you have to know it to understand it. Someone went on my MySpace and left a comment that said “You’re such a bitch!” And that really hurts, because really, really, really, really I’m not a bitch, but now I can’t change your mind because you think I’m a cunt.