Foxes On “Clarity”, Her Debut LP & The Elastic Nature Of Youth: The Idolator Q&A

Mike Wass | September 30, 2013 4:47 pm

Foxes went from being labelled the next big thing to actually being rather huge indeed by lending her powerful pipes to Zedd‘s all-conquering “Clarity”. One of the biggest EDM crossover hits of recent years, the soaring anthem sold double platinum and dominated the airwaves all summer.

It’s no surprise then that British Airways chose the rising star to perform at their Brits To Watch party — an event celebrating British talent and the inaugural A380 flight from Los Angeles to London.

The 24-year-old wowed partygoers with superb renditions of “Clarity” and “Youth”, before sitting down with me for a quick chat. I asked about that career-advancing Zedd collab, the tracklist of her much-anticipated debut album and other future plans. Find out what’s next for Foxes after the jump.

How did “Clarity” come about? I was sent the track and fell in love with it and we Skyped. I didn’t actually know who Zedd was. I ended up Wikipedia-ing him afterwards and I was like oh my god he’s worked with Lady Gaga and all these amazing people and I was suddenly really starstruck. But I can not explain to you how adorable he is. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

Why did Zedd choose you? No offense! [Laughs]. It was Zedd. He heard “Youth” and said ‘I really like her voice and I wanna get her on this track’. I remember my label saying — why do they want you? That’s insane. Apparently Zedd was really, really – ‘I have a voice in my head of what it’s going to be and I haven’t found it yet’ and apparently he was spending months looking for a vocalist to do it and then he said he heard me and said ‘that’s the voice for this song!’ I think Skylar Grey did a vocal for it as well.

Have you heard that version? No. When they said that I was like are you kidding? How then did you use me, her voice is insane!

Your own songs are darker than “Clarity”. How did you feel jumping into that dance-pop soundscape? The thing is — I’m a really big fan of pop music. I always have been. I love pop music ever since I was younger. My music is just really personal. Whether it’s poppy or not poppy it just is what it is. I love really great pop music and when I heard “Clarity”, you know it is quite different to my stuff but it’s brilliant and you can’t deny when a song’s brilliant.

I just thought it was great. I thought it was really well written — lyrically it’s not actually far from my stuff and that’s why I really liked it. It’s not just an EDM song, it’s a brilliant song. Even acoustically it comes through when you hear it and it’s like with or without the EDM production it’s just as incredible. So for me, it being different to my stuff didn’t matter. I really believed in the song and I thought the song was incredible.

Does it blow your mind how big that song became? I still don’t think I know how big it did become. I haven’t been here. I’ve been in East London in my little flat, so I don’t know. It’s so funny because people are like – ‘do you realize how huge it is?’ and I’m like ‘no because I’ve not been here’. I’ve been in London and I’ve come here at different times throughout the year and I’ve noticed that it’s on the radio every time I turn it on.

So what’s next for you? I’ve had this whirlwind year where – almost like Rihanna – working with these people who are huge artists, they’ve taken me to their places. Like Fall Out Boy are my good friends now. Zedd is my good friend now. These people are huge artists and the fact that they have let me be involved with their projects is insane. But now for me to step back and have done that and been really proud of that and have that incredible year, I’m like – now I have to come back to me. It’s great. This is what it was always meant to be like.

How much of the dark, alternative pop that you first broke with will be the album? Loads. Do you know “Echo”?

Love it. Crazy video. It’s insane. I love shit like that. I’m so excited for my next music video. I can’t wait to shoot it.

Which song? I can’t say which song! But I sat around a table at my label and I said I’m going to shoot cake out of a cannon and there’s nothing you can say to stop me. And they were like ‘ok’. So “White Coats” is on the album, “Echo” is on the album. “Home” is on the deluxe. What I’m really, really proud of is that I throughout this year of featuring for other people on this big songs that are definitely far from what I’m about, I’ve stayed true to myself the whole time.

I’ve just finished my album and the one thing I can say and what I’ll always be able to say is that my first album is everything I always wanted it to be. It’s everything I was before I featured on everything a year ago. It’s everything that “White Coats” was about, “Home” was about, “Youth” was about.

I very easily could have had a lot of pressure from my label saying you should start writing these pop songs and we think you should steer away from the alternative vibe but I was like no this album has to be something I’m proud of. It’s my first album. For me, I will always be proud of it because I didn’t sell out. I think if people like it or they don’t like it, it’s who Foxes is.

Why did you choose “Youth” as your next single? It’s been out since 2012. Because it never got a chance. It never got released. It only went on to Gossip Girl and I think it’s a really, really big part of what Foxes is about. What my music is about. It’s the first thing I wrote. I always wanted it to have the release it should have. It never did at the beginning. It was just put on vinyl but it never got a push.

I really believe in it and I think… it means a lot to me and it’s where it all began. I feel like it only makes sense to just start my project now after doing all this featuring with something I started it all off with. It just feels right. It feels like it’s the right time. There’s a lot more singles to come. I can’t wait to put everything out. People haven’t heard so much.

You could re-release any of those early songs and they would probably work. Well, I think I probably will. I might re-release everything. But you know what, I’m really excited to release the new stuff. That’s going to be great.

“Youth” still sounds fresh and new. Is it a testament to how far ahead of the curve you were? With everything I write it’s never ever about what’s out at the time or the sound or even writing a single. I wrote that song for people who were like in their late 20s, late 30s, late 40s and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and it scared the shit out of me because everyone is supposed to know what they want to do with their lives but no one does.

And you know what inspired me a lot? One of my favorite songs Baz LuhrmannEverybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen”. That’s like my favorite song and when I first moved to London everyone was telling me I had to get a proper job and they were like what are you doing? Music is stupid, you won’t get anywhere. And I felt so sick of it. I remember my sister at the time. She was 30 and she was on the phone to me and she was like ‘Lou, I just don’t know what I want to do with my life. I should know. I should have a path. It should be clear. I’m 30!’ And I was like ‘no, you shouldn’t’.

I sent her that Baz Luhrmann song and I was like listen to the lyrics to this. Some of the best people I know at 40 don’t know what they want to do with their lives. That’s exactly what I thought. And I remember, I’ll never forget it, I remember being with my big white book I write in and I was like don’t tell me our youth is running out. It’s only just begun.

Because I felt like everyone was telling me that and I just wrote that line and then I wrote the song the next day. I still have the bit of paper that says don’t tell me our youth is running out it’s only just begun. That’s how I felt at the time and I wanted to just tell other people that it literally only has just begun. You can start your youth at any time you want to. You’re any age. Age is not an issue.

What are your expectations for the album after “Clarity” being such a big song? I think for me Clarity is definitely in another world from what I’m doing. I definitely think whatever happens, I’ve had this year where I’ve had that experience and it’s been really great but it’s now time for me to put something out I’m proud of whether it does really well or does badly.

I honestly don’t care. When I’m 80 years old and I’m sitting in that chair, I’m rocking back and forth, I’m going to be like did I put something out that I was proud of for my first album, my one shot I had that came from somewhere that meant the world to me and my dream and what I wanted to do since I was a little girl.

Did I put something out that I’m proud of and that I will be when I’m 80 or did I sell out or like put something out I wasn’t proud of that could be potentially successful. It doesn’t matter. Who cares? I was proud, it meant something and it’s real. I think people can tell. Of course I want it to do well because I want to do music as my career because I love it.

Are you excited for Foxes’ debut LP? Let us know in the comments below.