Little Boots Discusses ‘Business Pleasure’, Power Bitches And Calling The ’90s House Revival Years Ago: Idolator Interview
Little Boots is in full-on, self-described Power Bitch mode when she arrives at the Idolator office. Decked out in the suit she’s wearing on the cover art for her new four-track release, Business Pleasure (buy it on iTunes), the singer, whose real name is Victoria Hesketh, explains that she originally intended to put out two EPs — one called Business and one called Pleasure, naturally. The outward appearance is quite symbolic for an artist who just five years ago was part of the major label system, but ultimately went down her own path to create indie label On Repeat, through which she released last year’s Nocturnes LP and, of course, Business Pleasure (out today, December 1). Clearly this woman means, well, business.
She’s also in agreement when I point out that her song “Every Night I Say A Prayer,” now nearly three years old, preceded the whole wave of throwback house music currently coming out of the UK. (“Yup, I called that shit!” Little Boots exclaims.)
Head below to catch our full one-on-one with Little Boots to learn more about the songs on her new EP, the thought behind her video for “Taste It” and what she thinks about those pesky Illuminati rumors.
Nice to see you again! So, the press materials for Business Pleasure stated that you’re channeling ’90s house and early millennium R&B for this EP. LB: “Taste It” is me trying to do Lumidee’s “Uh Oh.” It’s like awkward white girl trying to do that kind of tune! But that’s what make it unique. So much music has that ’90s house sound to the point where it sounds completely derivative. But from what I remember when I was younger when those songs used to come on — I mean I was too young to go out clubbing to them — but they’re so mystic and they tell a story. The person singing is a character and they take you somewhere. I really believe music can do that; it doesn’t have to just be “I wanna get wasted in a club.” You can put stories and personalities into dance music. So that’s why I think I’ve been going back to those kinds of genres. It’s been a lot of fun making this new music because the last album was written over a long period of time for a major label with different expectations and pressures — all this baggage came with it. This time, I feel like a totally new artist. I’ve been able to just indulge myself and do what I wanted. It’s definitely a bit more fun and tongue-in-cheek.
Let’s just come out and say right here that your 2012 single “Every Night I Say A Prayer” employed a ’90s house vibe way before it was hip to do so. You’re a trendsetter! LB: Yup, I called that shit! I just read a book called Energy Flash, and it talks about the history and all the Chicago house stuff. Now that sound is everywhere! The last time I was in Vegas, DJ Angelo dropped “In the beginning, there was house!” It’s interesting, but that’s doesn’t mean I’m going to get all stuffy about it. I just gravitate towards that kind of music. I just gotta do it and inject as much personality into it as I can. Last time I was in LA writing, Disclosure was on the radio and I was like, “Whoa!” Something has changed!” If I can’t make pop records in this climate where British dance-pop is bigger than it has been for a long time, when can I? I actually found it really exciting. There’s a lot of cool music out there.
Earlier this year I re-discovered Modjo’s “Lady” and Spiller’s “Groove Jet.” I went through a major 1999/2000 moment in the winter. LB: Yeah, you could go really far and get into that euphoric trance, like Darude’s “Sandstorm.” Even [Business Pleasure track] “Heroine” has a trance-y vibe, actually. Maybe I’m bringing back euphoric trance. Maybe that’s the next thing in dance! I just need to call William Orbit and get him on the production job. That would be amazing. [Laughs]
How would you describe your video for “Taste It”? LB: I’m hoping it’ll be quite unexpected for me. Me and the director got quite carried away, but it’s really cool. The song is about addiction and getting what you wish for. Some of it is personal and some isn’t. I think everyone can relate to it. People are so obsessed with being famous now, being the center of attention and having the most stats — even if it’s just between you and your friends on Facebook. It’s a desire to be this thing, and if you actually get it, it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be. We’re in a very addictive and attention-obsessed culture, so the video really explores the themes of getting addicted to things that are bad for you: fun, attention, drugs, food, partying, diets, image. All sorts of stuff. It’s a really interesting video, and one thing I like about it is that nothing repeats in it — apart from me. I think videos now have so many cuts where there’s just images thrown of Jennifer Lopez’s bottom, or something like that. So the video is just one shot and you never get the same thing twice.
You have the great line in “Taste It” about people not realizing all this stuff they’re addicted to is just saccharine. LB: Exactly. I grew up dreaming about being a pop star, and I got a shot at it and it was insane. A lot of things were not what I thought they were in my Cinderella fantasy that I had when I was little. So it’s that kind of “be careful what you wish for” moral to the story. And I’ve got really triangular hair in the video, so basically I’m a human triangle. That’s my new vibe now.
Here come the Illuminati rumors. LB: Oh no! Someone actually came up to me once and was like, “What’s the meaning behind it?” We can’t copyright a shape, guys.
Let’s talk about “Heroine.” How did that song come about? LB: I wrote it LA with Pete [Wade]. A lot of that song is about the mood, and the melody is really high for me to sing, but it just goes! I had this idea of heroine — it’s someone that saves you but it’s somebody that you’re addicted to; not necessarily a person, but a thing. [The idea] just came out of that. The mood is very fragile, and I’ve got a very fragile voice in a way. So I set that off with tough production that can hold it up. That’s one of my personal favorites off the album. Something about it reminds me of “Stuck On Repeat,” because it’s epic but it’s dark. You can dance to it because it’s atmospheric.
You worked with Com Truise on the song “Business Pleasure.” LB: It’s kind of a ridiculous song. I love Com Truise. He’s a genius. He sent me some tracks, and that one was just a hyper-active, ADD synth-fest. I didn’t know where to start writing on it because there’s hardly any room since the synths are so crazy. With this new album, I’ve been trying to explore things that aren’t about love — whether it’s about my journey with empowering lyrics or just things about the world and how we’re constantly talking but not really saying anything. There’s constant judgement and discussions, but they’re kind of empty. There’s connections, but they’re not necessarily real. It’s a hyper-active, tense, non-stop, exhausting Internet-led world that we’re all living in. Everyone is having 5,000 conversations at once, but not being mindful. So I was feeling a lot of that stuff in this track. It has that hyper-active city feel that I’ve been wanting to channel.
One would assume there’s an album around the corner after this EP? LB: The whole working girl theme I wanted to split into two EPs — one with Business and one with Pleasure. Then people just said if I have all these songs, just do an EP and then the album. To me, I think EPs are cool. This one is four tracks and it’s focused. So that’s why it’s called Business Pleasure. In a way, it’s kind of the girl in “Motorway” who runs away to the city with someone to see what happens to her — this is the continuation. Maybe it didn’t work out with that guy because he’s a douchebag. Maybe she’s gone to do her own thing to start a business and be a power bitch. It’s a bonkers song, completely ADD! But I’m at a place where I’m not scared to take any risks. I just feel this new stuff is starting from a blank page, so I kind of do anything. Maybe I can just be ridiculous and get away with it.
There’s something really nice about concise little EPs, like, for instance, Annie’s A&R EP from last year. LB: It’s quite easy to have a strong vision on EPs. If I had to wait to finish the album, it wouldn’t be out until next year and I’m bored of waiting. I’m far too impatient and so is everybody else! And the new album is 75 percent done, and it’ll be ready early next Spring.
Have you found it easier to work independently than with a major label? LB: Well, define “easy,” because it’s been fucking tough. It’s hard work. I actually got excited last night because I realized I would be jet-lagged and wake up early, which would give me an extra two hours to get shit done. There are not enough hours in the day. But then it’s amazing, because I never would’ve make this album or EP if I hadn’t done it this way. I think Nocturnes was a learning curve for me. It’s a lot easier to give up. You have to be driven and strong to stay in the game. So it’s tough, but easier in some ways. I don’t have to put on a skimpy dress and be told to act like Britney Spears in front of a camera. Obviously I’m in control of stuff, so that’s nice. Every day is a good challenge.
Your label is On Repeat Records. Any releases coming up that you want to mention? LB: There was meant to be something in the summer that got delayed, unfortunately. Now my stuff is coming, and it’s hard to do a lot of stuff at once because we’re a small team. We are power bitches and very good at multitasking, so hopefully we’ll be able to. There are exciting developments on the horizon!
You were moonlighting as a DJ before the release of Nocturnes last year. Have you been able to keep up with that? LB: A little bit. Not as much as I’d like. I played at Rhonda in LA; that was a really fun night. I’d love to DJ in New York. I made some mixtapes over the summer that people really liked. But not too much DJ-ing. My CDs are pretty scratched at the moment.
Little Boots new EP Business Pleasure is out today (December 1). Grab it on iTunes.