Who is Little Boots? She is the pop star alter ego of 23-year-old Victoria Hesketh, a native of Blackpool, UK who gained notoriety last year thanks in part to her YouTube channel on which she posts clips of herself playing cover songs in her cluttered bedroom. Catchy early singles “Stuck on Repeat” and “Meddle” combined with her glittering retro-futuristic flamboyance and D.I.Y. approach to mainstream pop prompted the British press to label her a star in the making for 2009.
Two months ago she released Hands , a debut album featuring collaborations with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip, Simian Mobile Disco, producer RedOne (Lady Gaga, Akon) and Human League’s Phil Oakey.
Despite Little Boots’ glam crystal-encrusted stage personae, you are more likely to encounter Hasketh on a synth forum than on a pop music message board. A self-professed techie, Hasketh incorporates unusual instruments, such as the Japanese-designed Tenori-on LED touchpad and the stylophone, into her live performances. She is also attempting to build her own laser harp.
We caught up with Hasketh last week in the midst of a manic move. Though she was schlepping boxes and her boyfriend’s laundry home from a London launderette, she dropped it all to chat with us about her upcoming North American club shows, her spacey stage vibe and her laser harp. Read the full Q&A after the jump.
Little Boots performs “Meddle” with a Tenori-on and stylophone on Later with Jools Holland.
What’ve you been up to lately?
Getting my life together to be honest. I’ve been working on a soundtrack film, that’s been driving me crazy actually. Not really anything new, just trying to get new songs in the sets for the live show.
What’s the film that you’re working on?
I’m not allowed to talk about it I’m afraid, but it’s pretty good film. I really like it, so I hope I get but I don’t really know yet.
What do you have planned for the stage shows in North America? You’ve said you’d like to create big, epic shows but on a smaller budget.
Exactly, it’s really difficult. We’ve got it pretty good in the UK at the minute, but it’s hard when you have to fly because you can’t fly as many people and you can’t fly as much equipment. In the UK we have stacks of all these silver shards of mirrors that go around the stage and I have special lights and we have backing singers that wear really cool outfits.
When we come to the States we have to do quite a stripped-down version at the minute because we’re quite new there still. But I think it’s quite good to keep it raw because you should be able to do it with just three people. I love having all the visual stuff, but it should still work and be really good without that. So I kind of like the challenge of doing old, club style as well ⎯ make it really raw and really bangin’ and really fun. It’s a good introduction, having it that way and hopefully if things go well I can build it up more.
Do you collaborate with any designers or art directors for the live show?
I collaborate with loads of young English designers for the stage outfits. Mainly young English ones like Henry Holland. Trying to get stuff commissioned or one-off pieces so that my stage outfits are really original. I have a really good guy Dave who’s been doing a lot of stage sets with us and he’s really talented so I hope we can do more with him. I’d love to get a stage where I can get a big production director in and do some epic, Kylie Minogue-esque show with like robotic unicorns and stuff. That’d be amazing but we’ve obviously got quite along way to go before we get there.
How would you describe the style you’ll be sporting on the tour coming up?
It’s all quite structured, a lot of structural stuff like quite big shoulders or ruffles or shapes. A lot of metallic or shiny stuff is good, anything futuristic or angular. Definitely a space age kind of vibe. It’s just quite good fun, I love to have fun with clothes and dress up a bit. Some of it’s a bit silly. I’ve got a great hat with unicorn horn on it.
And yet the outfits allow you to move around on stage?
I mean, it’s not very practical most of my stuff. You have to be able to move pretty easily. And once I had one [outfit] with a really high neck and I went out on stage and two songs in I literally couldn’t breath, I couldn’t sing, it was suffocating me and I had to stop and like, get it off. [laughs]
The music video for Little Boots’ new single, “Remedy”.
Do you have anything crazy in your tour rider?
Not really. I have multi-vitamins. Pro-biotic drinks, I really love those, the little yoghurt drinks. I’m pretty addicted to those. Then we have lot of chips but my tour manager hides them because we were all eating too many chips so they got banned. He hides them all on the bus and then we find them and have a massive feast.
Most bands seem to portray going on tour as such a drag. How do you feel about it?
I’ve done a lot now. I do really enjoy it and do love being on stage. I don’t know, I think all the promotion and the traveling is what gets me. I don’t mind touring at all and I love seeing people and I love being on stage it’s absolutely amazing, I’ll never get sick of that. But just when you straight off a plane and have to do three hours of promotion and go straight on stage. If you’ve just been doing that, you’re just not going to do the best show or not be in the best mood or just be tired. So I guess it’s the other side of it that gets me down.
What’ve been your most memorable gigs to date?
Japan was amazing. It was like every cliché of ’80s metal bands playing for tons of screaming Japanese kids. It was something like that but without the metal. It was just really fun and the fans are crazy. They come to your hotel, they visit the airport. Glastonbury was really fun.
Before you started performing to you go to Glastonbury and all those big summer festivals in Europe?
No I never really went. I don’t really like camping. It always rains, there’s so much mud and I don’t know ⎯ everyone’s just on drugs, it’s not really my vibe. I’m not really good without electricity and showers and mirrors and things. I didn’t really go until I started DJing at a few and then and I started playing them.
What’s the best way to work a crowd as a DJ?
I’m not the person to ask, I’m awful. Don’t be scared to have fun, some people take it so seriously and it’s all about their f*cking mix and how perfect it is and they have it down to the second of how long they have on the decks. There’s a lot of really serious DJs and I’m definitely the opposite school.
On your blog you apologized for playing “Children” by Robert Miles during a recent DJ set. Was the crowd really as horrified as you described?
I couldn’t really tell, I think it was pretty bad and it was quite a trendy crowd, quite the hipsters and they didn’t really get it. I thought it was quite funny. I think it really went down in a funny way. Uh, I think it was quite a bad move, yeah. I don’t care though, it was funny. I’d rather play that than loads of hipster bullshit.
I saw you in a stylophone documentary on VBS. Are there any other topics that you could conceivably see yourself speaking about in a documentary?
I did one yesterday. I’m doing one on the laser harp. I’m trying to build a laser harp for my live show… Jean-Michel Jarre plays one and it looks really cool. If you YouTube “Jean-Michel Jarre” you’ll see what I mean it looks amazing. I’ve been trying to build one but it’s really quite hard. I went and filmed yesterday and met this guy who ‘s this old electronics wizard and he was showing me.
Why is it challenging to build?
I’m trying to build it but you have to have so much fog and smoke to be able to see the beams. So it just depends on if you can employ someone who does nothing but manage your fog, which is kind of excessive at this stage so we’ll have to see.
Jean-Michel Jarre plays his laser harp.
Little Boots’ North American tour dates:
Sept 14 – Toronto @ Wrongbar
Sept 16 – New York @ Bowery Ballroom
Sept 17 – Chicago @ Empty Bottle
Sept 18 – Los Angeles @ Roxy Theatre
Sept 19 – San Francisco @ The Independent