YouTube’s latest pop sensation, Little Boots laces up for a U.S. invasion.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine 09.17.09
“I like that in America it takes on these urban connotations,” says Victoria Hesketh with a giggle. Increasingly well known as Little Boots, she gets a kick out of the fact that her childhood-nickname-turned-pop-moniker receives a hip-hop twist to “lil” as it crosses the Atlantic. “In England it would never sound like that, but in America the ‘lil’ lets everyone know you’re down. It can be my rapper alter ego; Lil Boots and Lil Wayne.”
While her fantasy collaborations with Weezy may never come to fruition, Hesketh’s momentum as an up-and-coming pop star has never been more real. Fueled by her sugary, disco and electro-tinged dance numbers as well as her high-traffic YouTube page, she has become a viral sensation. The attention has sparked multiple magazine cover stories and an appearance on Last Call with Carson Daly. Two weeks ago her album—slated for a U.S. release in January—went gold in the U.K.
Though the buzz seems to have materialized overnight, the 25-year-old Hesketh, whom we spoke to by phone from her London studio, says it hasn’t been as immediate as it appears. “There’s no prior to music for me,” she says. “It started when I was two, and I’ve been playing piano seriously since I was five.” Even college was a strictly musical endeavor where she focused on the sociology of music rather than theory, of which she already had a firm grasp. “I got to deconstruct Madonna and things for my college essays,” she says, laughing.
While at university, she formed an indie band called Dead Disco with classmates, but after creative differences sucked out all the fun, she branched out on her own, creating Little Boots to indulge her love of synthesizers and gadgets skirting the line between toy and instrument. An especially popular YouTube clip shows her covering Hot Chip’s “Ready for the Floor” on a Japanese instrument called a Tenori-On. “It looks like a piece of the future,” she says of the square, many-buttoned instrument—reminiscent of those old Simon toys—that has become a centerpiece of her live show. “The visual side of music is really important to me. Any way to physically demonstrate the music I’m making is really exciting,” she says.