Photos by Pavla Kopecna

Styling by Steven Westgarth / Stylist’s Assistant Victoria McCleneghan
Hair by Richard Scorer at Haringtons using L’Oreal / Make-Up by James O’Riley at Premier
Words by Hannah Forbes Black


From Blackpool to L.A. via East London, Victoria Hesketh - AkA Little Boots - makes synth-laden, bittersweet pop that your granny might just love as much as you do. And 2009 is going to be her year.

This time last year, Victoria Hesketh – the synth-playing, songwriting, self-confessed music geek who is Little Boots – was recording herself playing in her pyjamas in her bedroom and posting the videos on YouTube. Now she’s being hailed as the future of pop, with her first album on the way. So what’s her New Year’s resolution for 2009, her biggest year yet?

“Not to lose things,” she says, speaking on the phone from her hotel room in L.A., where she’s holed up writing and recording with producer Greg Kurstin. “I lose everything. I lost about six phones last year, I lost my passport, my driving licence a couple of times, my keys… My manager despairs of me, she has spare keys to my house, because I permanently get myself locked out.”

Yet when it comes to her music, Little Boots is the opposite of chaotic – a classically trained musician with a love of Japanese synths, she creates densely packed pop, that is at once sweet and dark. The album is already a mix of textures, she reports. “Some bits are quite moody and some bits are quite dark; there are some disco-y, dance-y bits, a few broken hearts and a few mended hearts; quite a lot of stuff about being in a new place and being a stranger.”

Little Boots reckons her habit of mixing light and dark has something to do with her hometown of Blackpool. “It’s centred around this idea of entertainment and holidays but it’s pretty dark and cold in the winter, and there’s a seedy underside,” she explains. “Most people I know from there are a bit cynical - you always look beyond surfaces because Blackpool is supposed to be this happy place but when you live there you realise how bleak it is. There is that in my music – a surface and an underside, different levels.”

All great pop songs have a hint of melancholy – the tunes might be danceable, but the lyrics discuss heartbreak and obsession. And, despite adulation from indie blogs and zines, Little Boots is unashamed about wanting to make pop music. “It got in that whole bracket of being blogged and hip and in Dazed and Confused. I just find it funny – I’m like, ha ha, you think it’s cool,” she says. “I don’t want to get trapped at an indie level and not be able to push it further than that. I’ve never been interested in being cool. This is a pop album and it’s got pop ambitions. I just hope it reaches as many people as possible.”

How does she feel about the stardom people are predicting for her? “I had a freak-out yesterday but I’m OK today. I saw some features I’d done and it’s when you see your face really big on something it freaks you out a bit. Most of the big articles have been great, but some people like to paint this picture of me having this awful childhood where I had to retire to playing synths in dark rooms. I had a great childhood, I was just a total dweeb.”

“I’ve never been interested in being cool.”

In this brave new post-indie world, Little Boots looks like the future. But what does pop mean to her, exactly? She groans at the question. “I guess pop is just popular music, it can be anything. Everybody can like a great song, a hipster or a kid or a granny.” For Little Boots, the verve and fizz of pop is a Trojan horse you can use to smuggle in secret complexities. “The stronger the song, the more weird you can be with the production or the lyrics. It’s like the spoonful of sugar theory – if you’ve got a great topline then you can do something weird within that template and people can take it at whatever level they want.” In the end, a good song is a good song: “There’s nothing embarrassing about having a chorus,” she says.


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