Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
Let us introduce you to Foxes, who is actually just the (singular) fox Louisa Rose Allen and her darkly elegant synth-pop. With just a handful of songs under her belt, the British singer has already carved out a clear sonic identity comprised of rich vocals, lush electro flourishes and mighty percussion that sounds like it’s coming from an empty Druid temple. At times she can sound like a more baroque version of Pink with the same “fist in the air” vigor, while other times she manipulates sounds like avant-pop weirdos Purity Ring before launching into an undeniable hook. Louisa’s able to fuse all of these elements together thanks to her smooth, soaring voice and ear for anthems.
With two Foxes songs recently featured on Gossip Girl episodes and an EP on the way this summer, music has launched Louisa into a new career, a new life, and even a new apartment. “I’m literally going to be crazy because I’m used to living with four other boys. But now I’m going to live on my own, so it’s going to be weird,” Louisa told us over the phone. She won’t get too cozy in her new digs, though, because in July she’s jetting over the Atlantic for her first visit to the States for a few shows.
FULL NAME: Louisa Rose Allen
SOUNDS LIKE: “It’s hard to say, because in my head it’s quite mental, it sounds quite crazy. I don’t actually have a good set of words. It’s like experimental pop, I guess.” On her juxtaposition of synth squelches, cavernous low ends and pop polish, she says: “I want that poppy element, but I also love playing with pop and messing around with it and creating something new.”
INFLUENCES: “I’m really into females who like changing things up. Strong female artists unafraid to do something they want to do. I really love pop music, but I also have my old favorites: Patti Smith, Kate Bush, Bjork, Bob Dylan — well, he’s a guy — Nina Simone. I listened to a lot of jazz music growing up, but I also listen to things like Eminem. So it’s a big mix.”
BIG BREAK: So when did Louisa realize she could make a viable career out of Foxes? “I don’t think that moment’s come yet. I don’t think it will, because I always feel like I’ve got more to do…I guess it’s the only thing I know I can do. There isn’t anything else, this has to be my career.” But if you had to pinpoint her breakout moment, it had to be last month when her songs “Youth” and “Home” were featured on Gossip Girl. “Gossip Girl is one of my favorite shows, so for me to see it on the show was ridiculous. I thought someone was playing my song in the background and I had it on mute!”
MUSICAL OBSESSION: Foxes’ penchant for shout-to-the-sky singalong moments is no accident: “I love massive songs, I love anthemic moments in music where you can just throw your hands back and go crazy. I’ve got an obsession with the endings of songs. Ending big and anthemic seems to happen a lot in my music.”
DREAM COLLABORATION: Louisa is a little gun-shy when it comes to dream pairings, but for reasons that are probably familiar to those of us who haven’t had our music on Gossip Girl: “I’ve made this promise to myself that I’ll never meet my idols. Either I’d make a complete twat of myself, or they’d do something and I wouldn’t like them anymore. So I just need to keep it as the fantasy in my head.” But don’t rule anything out! If given the opportunity to work with a superstar, it would “probably be something ridiculous like Eminem, just because it would be hilarious.” Hilarious or not, we’d listen!
POP’S EVOLUTION: Is it just us, or are we witnessing an influx of darker, more layered pop seemingly in reaction to the years-long reign of the sexually charged, Katy Perry-style hyper-sugar? Performers like Foxes, Charli XCX, Nite Jewel and others are following Florence + The Machine‘s lead by dialing back the sweat and ratcheting up the murkiness. It’s a natural evolution, according to Louisa: “We have to do something different. We have to keep inventing these different things, otherwise we’ll just be back on the same thing and that would be ridiculous.”
That’s not to say a fluffy pop gem is a bad thing: “A normal pop song is brilliant, but pop doesn’t mean one thing. It’s just something that’s popular, it can be anything. It should always be re-created, it always has been. And we should carry on doing it.”
SHE WANTS HER MTV: “I love music videos. The visual side is as important for me as the music. It all joins to give the message…And with [director] Flora Hanitijo it’s really fun to do, she lets me just chill out and do my thing, and captures beautiful moments. When I get to pop videos — if I do one — it might be a bit scarier because I’ll have to actually sing into the camera. [laughs] But [doing videos] made me realize I can’t be an actress. I just can’t do things over and over, the same thing! ‘Can you do that again?’ No, I can’t.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Foxes’ Warriors EP arrives July 3 (but you can preview it on her SoundCloud), after which she’ll play some shows in America. “I’m really excited about [the US tour], because I’ve never been before. It’s amazing that I’m going because of the music. It’s gonna be incredible.” Louisa plans to release something — perhaps a single — later this year, before starting work on her full-length debut.