The arrival of Little Boots has signaled something of a collective epiphany. Sometimes you don’t know what has been missing from your life until it’s right there in the room with you, and then you wonder how you ever managed without it. It has been barely a year since her solo project tentatively began, and already Victoria Hesketh is UK pop music’s most talked about new star. Ticking off every major piece of ‘next big thing’ feature press without even a properly released single to her name, she’s a rare instance of mirrored and completely justified industry and public hysteria. Each crystal-tipped sabre of dance-pop truth is as instant and succinct as it is pulse-racingly powerful. Her much-hyped series of bedroom Youtube cover versions and inundation of remixes have made her the bloggers’ wet dream, fueling the tangible, human touch of the self-confessed synth-geek’s endeavors. Behind each flawlessly sculpted gem –aided by a hand-picked elite of helpers including Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) and Greg Kurstin (Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen)- is a universe of imagination. Victoria’s penchant for fantastical visions -quasars erupting flying unicorns riding celestial dust trails to the end of infinity, and the like- bubble beneath incantations of bittersweet matters of the heart. Every inch of her effortlessly enchanting, petite five-foot-nothing frame radiates the kind of star quality the hit parade has been waiting for.
Victoria hasn’t always paved the future of dance-pop. Surprisingly, she wasn’t one of the in-crowd growing up in the north west of England’s Mecca of seaside kitsch, Blackpool. Starting piano lessons aged-five would signal the first chapter of formative years spent increasingly obsessed and immersed in music’s most intricate inner-workings. Black and white keys lined her childhood. Locked away in music rooms at break-time, rushing home to fit more practice in before tea, she devoured modern music’s gene pool note-by-note, from classical, to jazz and onward. Her teens would see the increasingly beguiling babe coming out of her social shell, whilst spreading her musical net as far as it would go. Punk bands, followed prog-bands, followed girl-bands, followed every weird and wonderful piece of musical theatre you could ever imagine, she soon discovered a voice that equaled her now virtuoso keyboard skills. With weekend’s spent weaving the lazers of her hometown’s euro-trance-powered meat-market dives, her musical voyage became anchored in many waters.
Absconding to Leeds University aged-18, wooed by early Noughties indie-disco fever, she’d soon meet the two girls that would comprise her first proper band, surly synthers, Dead Disco. After a series of lauded singles, storming tours, and a deal clinched with du-jour label 679, Victoria decided she needed pursue her cosmic fantasies and ultimately, the holy grail of pop. Little Boots was born. The earnest hook-laden compositions she’d been working on in secret were finally allowed out in the open. The synthesizer addiction she’d obtained in her old band grew tenfold, quickly assembling an arsenal of new toys, including her now trademark light-box Yamaha Tenorion. Soon she was documenting her bedroom sets and tinkerings on her laptop’s webcam, airing a mixture of her own new creations and a unique selection of cover versions, from Wiley’s ‘Wearing My Rolex’ to Haddaway’s ‘What Is Love?’ Little did she know that within a few months her Youtube artist profile would be one of the UK’s most subscribed. Her songs had a life of their own. Barely had she started and her almighty web buzz had transcended cyber-spheres and was proliferating the industry. Dotted lines were signed with label behemoths Atlantic. Demos were passing hands at a staggering rate. Before long her presence was requested by a plethora of the world’s most sought-after studio hotshots. Cue a slew of glam and not-so-glam recording trips, most notably Los Angeles for the inimitable sheen of Greg Kurstin, and, erm, Kentish Town, for Hot Chip knob-tweaker Joe Goddard’s seismic electro throbs.
‘Stuck On Repeat’ was the song the started it all. The kind of irrepressible anthem that cannot be contained. Transformed from a forlorn piano-led anti-ballad, into a seven-minute butterfly-inducing electro-trance sky-reacher by Goddard, it stamped her name onto planet pop in emphatic fashion. Exploding from hipster dancefloors, where it was immediately deemed a classic, the song’s melancholic tension, and frosty melodic turns dually hark to her hometown’s clubbing heritage and her prolific musical schooling. Debut limited edition single ‘Meddle’ jams and pounds with an unruly sense of R&B fierceness, cut with Vic’s haunting vocal lines and effortless way with hooks. ‘Magical’ and ‘Mathematics’ invoke the high-drama spirits of italo disco ala Bobby O and Jellybean Benitez. The latter’s off-kilter synth shadows are driven with a triumph of lyrical inspiration, making up for her lack of number crunching skills she deconstructs love as a mathematical equation. Not since pop royalty like Her Madgeness herself have we seen a star whose inevitable success is equalled by such coolness. Whilst the sleek ’n’ sultry, candy-coated ‘New In Town’ is pop music at its most invincible. The high-gloss Midas touch of Kurstin has awoken one formidable force.
People have labeled her songs many things: space-pop, nu-disco, electro, R&B, to name but a few. The truth being that while tags like these may ring true in relation to a particular instance, they don’t begin to cover the experience of the music she creates. Despite having the hippest circles eating out of her palm, Little Boots couldn’t be less fussed with making ‘cool’ music. She creates the kind of songs that pour into your ears and surge round you with an intensity reserved for that long forgotten track you fell head-over-heels for but never worked out what it was. Melodies and moods that overwhelm, that ominous stomach churn when you know that the only remedy is playing it to death. Victoria Hesketh is a girl obsessed with the unknown and unfathomable. “I love the limitless of space,” she explains, wide-eyed. “The questions it opens up, how we don’t really have any idea what’s going on up there however many Hadron Colliders we build.” For her, music’s ultimate question is thrown up by its most universal form. “Pop music is the most challenging thing I can do,” she says. “To make something that reaches across so many boundaries is just incomprehensible, like space. The places pure pop can take you are limitless.” It’s a genuine sentiment that forms that backbone of her music. The limits to Little Boots’ musical journey appear similarly non-existent.
- Sat 2014Eats Everything, Jackmaster, Huxley, Damian Lazarus, Aphrohead, Francesca Lombardo, Fur Coat, Jozif, Chris Malinchak, Little Boots, Billon, Shift K3Y, Aeroplane, Bit Funk, Prefuse 73, Fort Romeau, Martyn, Dorian Concept, Machinedrum
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