By the time that La Roux released their second album ‘Trouble In Paradise’, it had been six years since their debut had first landed. It’s no secret that the writing and recording process boasted its fair share of issues along the way, and by the time it was out in the open, it also marked the departure of Elly Jackson’s musical partner Ben Laingmaid. Yet, while ‘Trouble In Paradise’ is clearly the end of one chapter for her, it’s also provided a new lease of life for her current one.
“For live,” she begins, sat backstage at Latitude 2015 in the midst of a fairly busy festival season run, “what’s nice about it is that it’s much, much easier to develop than the first album. The first album really doesn’t take that well to development,” she continues, referencing her 2009 eponymous debut. “It kind of wants to be what it wants to be and it is what is, which is a fairly simplistic, punchy, no frills electronic pop record. I feel like I made it a long time ago now and creatively, I’m a long way away from that and I’m glad to be actually. I still like songs like ‘In For The Kill’ and ‘Quicksand’, but there are other sides to the record that I’m certainly not so keen on anymore.
“The new record ‘Trouble In Paradise’,” she goes on, “there’s no part of it that I don’t love. Because it has more depth and it is more intricate, there’s more for me to love as its maker and as a listener. I feel like that every night on stage. Every time we do a soundcheck, or a rehearsal, it always feels like there’s something to be done. With the old songs, we always try stuff but it just never seems to want to work. It just wants to be what it is, so having this record to mix with it live has been a real joy and so much more creatively fun.”
Unsurprisingly, after so many changes in the band’s camp around its release, Jackson does feel to have moved on from the record. After waiting six years to follow-up her first record, she’s clearly already feeling the itch to try something else new. “I think in terms of the album itself, I’ve totally moved on and started writing another record,” she confirms. “We’ve made more than a start, I will say.”
“I feel a lot happier than I have done for about seven years. I feel a lot more open and a lot more excited; I’ve got loads of energy. I feel like I know what I’m doing really, for the first time ever.”
— Elly Jackson, La Roux
“I think, all things considered last year, I feel like I want to get on and do things how I want to do them, after having had them not be done right. I've kinda taken on a new lease of life and a new perspective on things. I've decided to take a lot more responsibility and run things a lot more from how I see that I want them run, because I feel like a lot of people let me down last year.”
So, if anything, 'Trouble In Paradise' became the full stop on that era of their lives. “It really was,” she agrees. “I think me and Ian [Sherwin, who took on production duties on 'TIP'] both knew that about it, but you can't really say that because you're always ahead of people's perceptions of yourself. I think we knew exactly what that record was. We knew it was a transitional record, we knew it was a point in my life and with the music, that just generally meant that things were gonna be different from now on.” Now, they really are, and Jackson's feeling the benefits. “I feel a lot happier than I have done for about seven years. I feel a lot more open and a lot more excited; I've got loads of energy. I feel like I know what I'm doing really, for the first time ever.”
And for her next step, Jackson's already got ideas in mind. Finding herself feeling more and more distant from the trends of new music, she's keen to try and get back to the “energy of music from times gone by.”
“I think something than me and Ian - and a lot of my friends talk about quite a lot - is its imperfection and energy. I think instead - myself included - we seem to have gotten into the trap of trying to make records that sound like our old favourite records. That's completely the wrong way of looking at it; I think it's the energy that needs to be captured from old records. I think that's one of the things that makes me not like as much new music as I'd like to like,” she ponders. “I'm constantly finding myself listening to old music and it kinda makes me a bit sad. I think the thing I'm trying to work out… I'm like, 'Am I just being a dick? Have I just decided that I don't like new music or is it just hard for me?'” she laughs.
She's also undecided on the subject of pop writers and collaborations. Acknowledging that “it's not about people writing with other people - because that's always gone on” she feels that it all just feels a bit like fulfilling quotas. “I think it's the fact that it feels so soulless. When I hear the way people talk about it, it's a bit like getting the job done, getting the song written. It's not just about finishing it quickly and getting it done actually. It's about conveying the right energy and the right feeling and the right message. If that takes a week, or two months, that's how long it fucking takes. If it takes two hours, amazing, you've captured that energy! But it's not just about getting it done. I hear a lot of musicians talk more and more like people who work in the industry side of it. That scares me a bit.”
“I’d like the next record to feel more raw and not try to be so perfect and so shiny, in a way.”
— Elly Jackson, La Roux
She's also aware that her statements could well be setting herself up for the fall, but sticking to her word is a challenge she's ready for. “Whatever my next record is, I'd really like to practice what I preach essentially,” she says. “To not just say all of this but - I shouldn't say this as it's setting myself an enormous task! - but to just do it and make a record that is… I'd like it to be more earthy. I'd like it feel more organic, but not in an acoustic guitar [way]. There won't be any acoustic guitars or anything like that in it!
“I want it to be more earthy, more organic and we want it to be bigger and it's definitely going to be more soulful. I'd like it to feel more raw and not try to be so perfect and so shiny, in a way. I think music's gotten so shiny...” she trails off before coming to her conclusion. “So, hopefully, we'll see what happens in the next year."
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