Killin’ them softly
La Roux fights its way to the top of the charts
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 01.28.10
Does La Roux’s Elly Jackson come from a mainstream pop mold? With artists like Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga and Little Boots dominating the charts in Jackson’s native U.K.—she even shares a label with Gaga—it seems a fair question to put to her. All those acts have capitalized on the übertrendy electro-pop sound as well as the makeup, costumes and stage shows that go with it.
“I can see how you might think my image is manufactured because it’s a very pop image with the hair and stuff. I could see that, even if it’s not true,” says the outspoken 21-year-old who’s often pictured with a tidal wave of red hair splashing across her forehead (La Roux means red-haired one). “But what I can’t see is how you could listen to our record—actually listen to the lyrics and the sounds—and think it was manufactured.”
It’s true; one spin through La Roux’s self-titled debut album, and it’s impossible to mistake the duo’s mix of ’80s-inspired dance beats and heartfelt songwriting as anything but genuine.
Expanding on her point, Jackson describes meeting Lady Gaga. “She was asking me who I was going to work with on my next record, and I was like (a) we’re a duo and (b) we produce our own stuff. It just didn’t compute with her.” Even her friends ask similar questions. “Now that I’ve had a hit, I have to go work with Americans?” she asks with a sigh. “People think the only way to be successful is to go off and work with Timbaland or whoever.”
La Roux, which makes its Chicago debut at Lincoln Hall Monday 1, is the studio project of Jackson and Ben Langmaid. A strictly behind-the-scenes member (Jackson performs with a tour band), Langmaid had a string of successes in the mid-’90s and early ’00s as part of electronic duo Huff & Puff before meeting Jackson through a mutual acquaintance in 2006.
La Roux plays Lincoln Hall in Chicago on Monday Feb 1 with opening sets from Boston quartet Yes Giantess and the lovely ladies of Moneypenny, who I had the pleasure of sitting down with for an in depth chat this summer. You can read about all that here: TOC | Moneypenny
We were lucky enough to get our hands on an upcoming single from Yes Giantess, entitled "The Ruins". If you've been feeling the moody indie electronic acts of artists like Delphic, Yeasayer or even Ellie Goulding (who we've featured on the show) than you'll love the melancholy synth-led electro of Yes Giantess. In fact, "The Ruins" is produced by Starsmith, one of the masterminds behind British chanteuse Golding.