Elly Jackson is sick. Her voice is shot from months of touring — it still remains to be seen how she’ll perform tonight in Toronto — so what was supposed to be a lively interview with the outspoken frontwoman for La Roux, has become a quick e-mail exchange.
Still, Jackson’s exuberance comes across; her responses are in all caps.
“I’M TRYING TO HUSH MY MOUTH JUST A LITTLE!” she writes, as if she’s screaming. Because we’re corresponding over the Internet, she doesn’t have the chance to say curious things about other musicians (she recently insulted U.K. rap act Tinchy Stryder) or feminism (“There’s far more ways to be sexy than to dress in a miniskirt and a tank top … I think you attract a certain kind of man by dressing like that,” she once said).
But, if she could speak, she wouldn’t hold back. “Wouldn’t it be boring if we all said the same thing and had no opinions,” she writes. “Too many acts go on media training courses. It’s safe being bland.”
Her comments have gotten her tons of press, and for a 21-year-old trying to navigate the saturated British music market, the more people talking about you the better.
But however people find out about the singer, and her musical partner Ben Langmaid, it’s the music that really speaks for itself. The duo’s debut is a wildly infectious synth pop record that recalls ‘80s bands like Depeche Mode and glam rockers such as David Bowie.
Their self-titled debut reached No. 2 in the U.K. and landed on top 40 charts around the globe. The rise seems rapid — the album came out in England in June and in North America in late July, but for Jackson, the accolades have been a long time coming.
“We’ve been writing together for five years before the record came out,” she explains.
“But yes, in real terms it has been quite quick, but that’s kind of how it happens now, especially in the U.K. No one makes it the old fashioned way by touring.”
How does she handle the newfound attention? “I don’t go out,” she says. “I’m never papped because I just stay home when I’m not working. It’s the only way to keep your life private.”
It’s likely the attention will keep coming — these songs are catchy enough to be played in the car and the club — but her debut could easily have fallen flat. Especially if she recorded it the way she originally wanted — as folk songs.
“Some of the songs were written on the acoustic guitar and demoed as such,” she reveals. “I was a major Joni Mitchell fan, had my hair down to my waist but I got bored. It’s been done to death. And how do you top Joni or Neil Young. You can’t.”
La Roux performs
Toronto: at the Guvernment on Oct. 23.
Montreal: at Le Studio Juste Pour Riret on Oct. 24.