Speaking to Elly Jackson, the flame-haired singer and focal point of UK duo La Roux, on the eve of her ascent into the realms of pop-stardom - that being the pinnacle reaches of the pop charts - is interesting in that it's an incredible achievement for an electro duo, who regardless of their enormous potential don't fit the mold of conventional chart-darlings, and also because Jackson doesn't see herself popstar yet.
"Yeah, it's very weird in a way. I never expected us to do well on the pop charts like we have done, but yeah, it's nice anyway," Elly says, referring to La Roux's two most recent singles, In For The Kill and Bulletproof, hitting number 2 and 1 on the UK pop charts. "When In For The Kill first entered the charts we were chuffed about it, but then it started to climb and it reached number 2, so we were sharing space with genuine pop stars," she explains from the back of La Roux's tour van. "I was just happy because it meant that people were listening to our music. That's the important thing."
But despite the double-act's runaway success La Roux aren't a flash in the pan, as Elly states emphatically. "A lot of people think that we've just kind of appeared over night, but that's not the case at all. We've been doing this for years. It took a couple of years of recording and writing together to find out what we liked and what we didn't like, and then last year we started taking that around to labels and people who wanted to work with. It's been a long time coming for us, so if people think we've just sprung up out of nowhere, they're wrong."
As Elly suggests, the La Roux project has been developing and gestating for a number of years before taking off. The singer explains that the years leading up to their self titled album were spent "struggling" with songs. "It started out very different to what you hear now. We were doing things in an organic kind of way. It wasn't strictly folk music, but there were a lot of acoustic instruments involved. I grew up listening to a lot of folk music so I guess that was a big influence at the time," she says fankly. "But our songs weren't working. It was difficult for us. Like, the songs were good, but there was just something that wasn't 100% right. So we took a break from things for a little while and I started listening to a lot of electronic music, a lot of synthpop and stuff. Ben ([Langmaid], the other side of La Roux) and I got together again and decided to try things out with some electronic sounds, and it just clicked. The songs finally made sense.”
La Roux by La Roux is out now. Hit the band’s website for a free download pack. - Dave Ruby Howe
I hate the term ‘comeback’.” That’s Casey Spooner, one half of Fischerspooner, the iconic electro duo who’ve just released their third album (Entertainment) after a four-year gap in recording. “It’s not a comeback because we didn’t actually leave,” implores Casey. He’s right too. Fischerspooner haven’t been hiding after their last album, Odyssey, failed to ignite in the same way that electroclash touchstone #1 did, they’ve just been busy working on other facets of the Fischerspooner universe. “Releasing albums isn’t all we do, we’re performance artists so we could be working on stage shows, theatre pieces, ballets or installations.”
Yet for a duo that can work (successfully) in so many different creative arenas, there is something appealing about the musical side of Fischerspooner that lured Casey and creative partner Warren Fischer back for Entertainment. “I often wonder why we do it,” Casey remarks with a pause for contemplation. “This job can be terrible. I haven’t had a day off since the beginning of the year,” he moans. “But I think, in the end, Fischerspooner as a musical entity offers us a chance to incorporate a lot of different elements and open things up for collaborations. For us, it’s never just an album. There’s a stage show we’ve got to think about and with that comes choreography, costuming, design as well as art and image direction. We’re always thinking of new stuff to do and who we can do it with to make it work right.”
Whatever they’ve done in the last four years has worked, as Entertainment shows off a charismatic and invigorated Fischerspooner. One minute they’re swanning through some pulsating electro (The Best Revenge), the next it’s brooding dance music for androids (Money Can’t Dance) or fractured and futuristic pop (the stunning Danse en France). Entertainment is an album filled with unbridled imagination, but more importantly it’s an album that sees the realisation of all these ideas. “We worked really hard on this record, and we’re proud of it,” Casey says grinning. “I guess I don’t mind too much if people see it as a comeback. It just means that we’ve been through it all. First we were loved by everyone, then hated and now people are excited to hear from us again. I quite like that feeling.”
It’s good to have them back. – Dave Ruby Howe
It's hard to imagine any band that's able to utilise the studio as effectively as Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn-based quartet seamlessly weaves instruments into textures, rendering music that is almost irrelevant to discuss in traditional terms of rhythm and arrangement. But Grizzly Bear's art is not something to be thought about, it's something to be felt; it sweeps through you, feathering imagination and unlocking emotion. While this is prodigiously modern music, the cleverness of its coordination and restraint of delivery makes it seem of a porous and playful past, leaving the listener lying on a hardwood floor in the 60s, reading Kerouac and smoking Lucky Strikes. A spectacular triumph, Veckatimest is as absolutely enchanting as it is thoroughly impressive. - Matt Shea