Having switched electro synths for house hooks, cowbells and disco jazz, Little Boots is back with new material. The Blackpool-born, London-based dance-pop superstar, who was behind anthems like “New in Town”, “Remedy’”and “Stuck on Repeat”, is currently touring her brand new album Nocturnes, the follow-up to debut album Hands. She's made fans wait four years for the new material, which she’s been showcasing in New York this week at a free gig in the packed out Diesel store in SoHo, as well as a sell-out show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg the following night.
It’s been quite a while since Hands. What have you been up to since then?
Little Boots: I’ve been writing and recording songs and DJing a lot. We’ve still been touring as well, we’ve been to South America, Russia and China, all those kind of far away places. So it’s been super busy.
I think it just took a while for me to get the right direction for the new album and find the right people to work with. Also there was a lot of label politics and logistical things that just took ages, so I ended up first changing labels and then starting my own label, On Repeat. It’s been very frustrating for me for the new album to take so long, but at the same time I think everything I’ve been through has made the album a real journey, and I think it’s actually weirdly made it a better album. So even though at the time I was like ‘AAAaaagh!!!’ (mimes losing her mind), these things happen for a reason and it’s made it the album what it is. It’s much more representative of me, and starting my own label has given me complete creative control.
I love the sound of the new material, very house. Can you tell us what your influences were while making Nocturnes?
Little Boots: Whereas the first album was very 80s synth pop, as much as I still love all those artists, I didn’t want to do the same thing again. I’ve been DJing a lot more since then and the kinds of people I’ve been meeting and the things I’ve been listening to have changed.
I actually kind of went back and rediscovered dance music and the history of it all, going right back to the start of disco and how that began and also the early house music from Chicago. When you listen to all the EDM that’s on the radio it just feels soulless, there’s no personality in there and you can’t tell one song from another. So I guess I was searching for some reference to cling onto to make dance-pop meaningful and personality-driven. There’s a lot of disco and house influence, but then there’s all sorts. I didn’t want it to be just one genre like the first record. I wanted it to be like ‘there’s this, there’s that, and there’s that’; putting different things together.
I was just filling gaps in my record collection. People like Tim Goldsworthy and Andy Butler from Hercules and Love Affair would play me rare house and disco records and I’d be like, ‘What is this? Why don’t I know this? I want to use that sound there!’, and I think you can tell in the record how excited I got.
It looked that way tonight, it was a great gig. I actually remember seeing you at Night and Day in Manchester back in March 2009, and at one point the sound failed but you kept singing and the audience loved it. Has anything like that happened since?
Little Boots: Things always break for me! I was actually doing a gig in San Francisco a few days ago and everything broke. But it breaks because I’m trying to do things that are difficult and challenging, and I would rather that I do that and things break than to just press ‘go’ on a laptop and mime along. I think the people who get me do see that I’m trying to do things, and even if it isn’t absolutely perfect, at least I tried.
Definitely. So where are you spending most of your time these days?
Little Boots: Apart from touring intensely, I live in London but I call LA my second home, as I have a lot of friends there. I never thought I’d be an LA person but after going there so much I love it. But actually New York feels closer to home, more like London.
Yeah I can see that. It’s such a great place for going out too. Are you partying a lot despite the tour?
Little Boots: I’ve recently been to Berghain in Berlin which was quite full on! It’s actually just been my birthday week so we’ve had a really intense schedule but every night has been like a party; it’s been a lot of fun. Kind of work hard, play hard. We had a great night in Philadelphia the other night and we’ll probably go out in Williamsburg tonight.
What are your plans for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
Little Boots: I want to keep performing, making more albums, and as soon as possible this time. I don’t want there to be a four year gap between albums again. I’ve already got ideas for new material and I’m going to be recording in the summer.
Now I’m in charge and have my own label, I can do that. It’s so nice and empowering to be in control of that, and as long as there’s demand for it, I’ll keep doing it.
We’ve got a busy year ahead as we’re doing a bunch of festivals and then touring Europe and the UK in the Autumn.
I’ve been working with other artists which, as I get older, heaven forbid, I’ll probably do more of, as it’s something I really enjoy. So yeah: music music music.