Friday, January 29, 2010

La Roux


La Roux singer on why the ’80s are not back, they just never went away

Anything you’re going to read in the press in the next few months about the impending Stateside success of U.K. electro duo La Roux will no doubt make reference to their ’80s synth pop style influences and declare “The ’80s are back!” The only problem with that is that the ’80s never really went away, particularly in the indie dance scene.

“The underground dance scene has always been influenced by genres like synth pop, disco, breaks, or old school house and techno,” says singer Elly Jackson, who’s garnered as much attention for her glam style as for her wounded dance diva persona. “They fall in and out of favor in the mainstream though so it’s natural that the media will make statements like that. It was the same in the U.K. A similar thing happens with fashion all the time, Vogue will suddenly declare that ’70s flares are back, but there are people out there who only ever wear ’70s flares, regardless of whether it’s on trend or not.”

Whether it’s indie acts like Robyn or Sally Shapiro, or more mainstream explosions of synthy-kitsch ala Lady Gaga and Key$ha, the market for this type of exuberant pop still runs across demographics here.

“It’s all pop. We all like catchy hooks and are speaking to people about normal emotions and things we experience and people empathize with that. If my music was sung by someone with a more mainstream image then I think it would appeal to a more mainstream crowd, but because I dress like David Bowie and Annie Lennox’s androgynous love child it will probably appeal more to the indie scene,” says Jackson.

“What’s been amazing in the U.K. is that we had mainstream chart success and I’ve had so many letters and emails from girls saying ‘You’re really different, I love it! I’m not like all the blonde girls on TV and you make me feel like that’s OK.’”

Jackson says the move from underground dance clubs to the mainstream was a bit jarring.

“It was quite drastic and sudden actually. We were catapulted from doing very small club shows to larger venues with a mainstream crowd. It is different but that is the nature of chart success and I’m thankful for it. I guess one difference is that a mainstream crowd tend to wait for the hits, which is natural I guess but can be disheartening. The other thing is that the crowd are often quite young. It’s great to have young fans but they’re there with their parents and not drunk so the gig has less of a party/club vibe and is harder to play to. People tend to dance less too, because they’re filming the whole thing on their phones. Why not just enjoy the moment?”

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