Victoria Hesketh and her alluring synth pop as Little Boots are back to entertain with her new Burn EP. Out now in full via Hesketh's own label On Repeat Records, the new EP shows off her knack for writing dance and pop. Delving into the darker and clubbier side of Little Boots, it makes for one of her most infectious and fun releases to date.
Seemingly a continuation of work ethic from 2015's Working Girl album, this Little Boots release champions an all-female team. Together with Joyce Muniz, Lauren Flax, Planningtorock, and Cora Novoa, Hesketh co-produced these four new tracks for the Burn EP, and then Marta Salongni stepped in for mixing.
In between launching her new EP in both London and Los Angeles, sharing her video for "Picture," and changing up the pace for a live Billboard acoustic set, we managed to catch Victoria on the phone relaxing out in her sunny garden at her new home in LA. Birds chirping in the background, EARMILK got to chat and get an in depth scoop on the Burn EP, settling into LA, equipment, and what we can expect from Little Boots going forward.
EARMILK: How do you like LA?
Little Boots: I love it. I'm really, really happy here--living at home now which is really nice. I just moved into a new place now that has its own studio and stuff. And yeah, it definitely took a little while to get settled but now I'm really feeling at home so it's great.
EM: Do you feel like the change in location has affected your sound at all?
LB: It's funny because I always came to LA to write, but historically I always wrote that stuff here--you know all those old songs. It's always just a place that's allowed me to be a writer in a way. In London, there are lots of distractions, stress, and stuff, so I think that one of the appeals to come here was to write more. So I think I'm just feeling quite productive, I've got my own studio and I feel like playing music here and it's quite an inspiring ecosystem to be in. You know, in London if you're like "What are you doing today?" "Writing songs." "Whaaat that's not a real job!" "So why are you not like…" There's a lot of pressure to be doing something quite like hard working, sensible, serious, and competitive. Here it's like "Oh, working on some track." It's a much more acceptable thing to be doing with your day. A lot of the pressure is taken off and you just feel more allowed to create is the best way I can explain it. That's fantastic. It's simply inspiring to meet a lot of new people and you move to a new city you just have a whole new momentum--London I'd got to the point where I was just like missing the quick Grace Jones gig to go watch Netflix. When you're in a new place you're like "I've got to check all this stuff out! Oh my god this is happening!" The night life scene here is great, the comedy scene is amazing, and you know that is the stuff I love! So yeah I'm definitely finding, and like obviously I love nature stuff and being outdoors! It's simply inspiring.
LB: And I am being paid the LA tourist board for this conversation.
LB + EM: [Laughter.]
EM: Congratulations on the new Burn EP, it's one of my favorite Little Boots releases.
LB: Yay! Thank you!
EM: It's really awesome that your new EP boasts an all-female team, of course I love that as a female!
LB: It's cool, I know!
EM: I think the industry needs more of that. How did that project come together?
LB: I've been wanting to do something that was like female producers for a while. Because in the 10 years of making music, I've worked with more men, and I just thought that was just ridiculous. And then, the other side of it I was DJing more and more and seeing all these great female DJs but a lot of them played my favorite tracks coming out by female DJs like The Black Madonna and Peggy Gou and all these people. I'm like okay, so there might be a way to bring these two loves together. I really wanted to bring my DJ dance world of things that I did--bring that more together with the pop songwriter thing I've traditionally always done and merge them a bit more, rather than having this split personality syndrome that was developing. So yeah, I just really reached out and asked around, and asked for help really and asked "Do you know people… and I'm looking for female producers… I want to try to do it all with women or at least a big portion of it and trying to spotlight on that." It was amazing really. So many people reached out to me and suggested people and really restored my faith in asking for help. Yeah, it's become a bit risky to be saying at the minute like "girls helping girls. and women helping women" but it really is true. That there is some real spirit and solidarity around at the minute. Not just the women, but anyone asking for help you should always help them. But I think there's definitely a feeling of community in women in industries where there's tips and imbalance--wanting to be part of it. But yeah, tons of people reached out and recommended people and I ended up sorting a bunch of ideas and these four tracks and creators seemed to be the ones that could really make sense and we connected and went from there really. Most of it was done remotely because we're all over the world. But I do personally know all of them and consider them my friends now which is awesome and actually quite rare when you collaborate remotely. You know a lot of the time you just send emails back and forth and sing a bit and you never see that person again, so it feels nice to have to have a personal and creative connections with all those people over the world.
EM: Do you think you'll consciously try to keep the female lead going?
LB: I don't think so because I don't want it to be a gimmick. I'm very conscious of that. Gender isn't a genre and I'm about the intent of work. I've worked with all these people because I was inspired, they were incredibly talented. It wasn't because of gender. So I don't think so. I definitely would like to try and make sure there's more balance in my work in the future and make sure that maybe there's more of that, and I just like work with more women. It definitely doesn't need to be exclusive. But being aware, it's made really choosing high in my awareness. Even with the video we just shot, we looked around and we were like "There's only 2 guys in the room and 10 women. And that's new!" Our videos historically, the only women would be like the makeup artists, but all the crew and everyone would be guys--the art director and everything else. So it was like "Oooh, this is great actually!" It's awareness--awareness of diversity not just for gender but everything. It's really important, and it does make better outcomes usually with better creativity. You know diversity is always going to be a good thing. I think.
EM: For sure! Is there anyone you dream of collaborating with, male or female or anything really?
LB: Haha anything, yeah. I mean, you know obviously The Black Madonna. I'm a huge fan of her, we already talked basically, but I think she's incredible. Who else am I a big fan of at the minute? Oh yeah, I know this is ridiculous, but someone like Daft Punk. Daft Punk notoriously have like no women in their productions. I mean, I can't think of any females in any of their tracks, you know? It's quite a like old French boys club. So I don't know. I'd like to do something like really... I'm kind of working on this addictive project I've been saying I've wanted to do for years, but maybe I'd like to so something like that.
EM: Do you have a favorite track on the new EP or one you're most excited about?
LB: Well, I guess now that two of them are out and two of them aren't, I'm excited for the ones that aren't out yet. But there's a track called "Eros" that I'm really excited to come out because it's the most pop of the tracks on the EP. I think I'm just excited for the reactions from my fans mainly. I feel like they'll love it. I hope so. When we were writing it, we were like "it's like Cerrone meets Kylie meets Hercules & Love Affair," which I think my fans would love. I'm excited for that one, and the video is really fun as well! So, I'm pretty excited for that one just because it's the most heart on it's sleeve pop, unlike "Shadows" and "Picture" are very cool "Eros" has still definitely got a tongue-in-cheek knowingness and like this little smile. But yeah, certainly I love all the tracks. Obviously I can't pick a favorite baby, that would be unfair.
EM: Of course, you can't ask that really. You mentioned you have a new "Eros" video. You recently debuted the music video for "Shadows," it looks like it was a fun. Can you talk about the new one at all?
LB: Well what we actually did was rather than doing one video... There wasn't really a lead track it was just the way things were going out in general. It wasn't like a lead single for the EP, it's like a production of four songs and four ideas and they're interlinked. So I was like, how do we do this vision? So instead of one track, we made four videos. Four visual ideas, four very visual content pieces. So there's four videos that are interlinked, one for each track across the EP. They are standalone videos, but they're more like visual ideas. So I brought in a female director and friend of mine, Marion Bergin, I've worked with her before on the "Taste it" videos. And for years I've loved that, and it won some awards. It's one of my favorite videos. We worked together again and came up with these four concepts that were all about the songs, and linked together thematically and we shot them all in two days and… superhuman, I don't know how we did it. So yeah, it'll be interesting when they're all out. Seeing them, how they fit together and reference each other. But the "Shadows" video, we were inspired by the overlaying effect, the 90s, lots of graphic effects, lots of colors, turning things, dancing. Then we just put the "Picture" video out, which is like a one shot video and it feels like close-ups on your eyes and mouth, and use of screens. And yeah,they all kind of link together more in terms of like a mood set in visual scenes rather than like a narrative concept. It's more about the kind of feel and more of how it sums up the sound being key.
EM: I have to say I have been a fan since the YouTube years. I loved all your videos back in the day. I sometimes I still revisit your Hot Chip "Ready For The Floor" cover.
LB: Yeah I still look at that I'm like how did I do that! I was so much smarter when I was 24!
EM: Obviously a lot has changed since then, but would you ever revisit those early recordings? Maybe a covers album or something like that?
LB: Yeah! I mean something I've been really toying with and just haven't got around to it--maybe doing like a patron channel which is where you known fans could subscribe for months and you have mini videos or whatever it is. Try and do a channel of that stuff and try to take requests and it's something I'm really thinking about doing. I still, I actually do a lot of stuff on my Instagram story so I do lots of little covers, I'm like messing around at home. That's become my new channel really. Because nothing sticks around long enough for people to know, it's already been changed which is great. And so yeah, definitely. The thing from yesterday, I did a session for Billboard which was acoustic, we were saying we could do like an acoustic kind of set or album or something. So yeah, do more things like that. I've got some concerts or live shows at the minute--trying to get some more stuff in there. I just did this performance last week with this giant synthesizer that's a little bit like the Tenori-on but like a huge thing and yeah, still exploring and acting on all those avenues. I guess just YouTube became such a tragic place for that kind of thing. It didn't feel fresh anymore. I guess I just try to find new ways to do it and new avenues that feel relevant and that people want to connect with it. So yeah I'm definitely sort of dabbling and figuring out ways to do that. I think maybe I'd do a version of the EP, do an acoustic reel or do it like some sort of electronic sit down sort of thing.
EM: Back then the Tenori-on was sort of your spotlight instrument, you mentioned a giant synthesizer… Do you have a favorite instrument or piece of equipment right now?
LB: I'm trying to track this thing down from Japan actually called a Vocaloid which is like a keytar but it's made of like robot voices and people have been using it in Japan. Instead of singing, they'll use this thing that kind of sounds like a human and you can put words into it and it'll sing. It looks really cool and it sounds really weird. They're really awesome but you can't get them in America so I've been trying to hunt one down from Yamaha, but they've not been too responsive yet. That would be really fun, or someone else has made a wireless keytar, so I might get that for my new live shows so I can possibly like jump around and go like crowd surfing while still like shredding on the synths, so that'd be pretty fun. We'll see, I use a lot of like Ableton and … there's lots of things coming out, just some of them are not that sexy. So it's like finding the things that actually sound cool and look cool. That's always the challenge. But the Vocaloid is really cool and definitely a thing at this time. If anyone goes to Tokyo let me know! That'd be great.
EM: Anything you can tell us about a new album or forthcoming album?
LB: [Long pause.] Nope.
LB + EM: [Both laugh.]
LB: I think, I don't know... I don't feel very inspired to make albums anymore because they're so consuming and they feel like such big projects. And then the burn on them is so small. So I'd rather just keep creating and just keep going at stuff, rather than having this huge deadline and then this huge void that you fall in. You know, it doesn't feel like a very modern way to work anymore. And something inspiring, I told someone yesterday, "I can't finish my album, but like, I already hate it and I've written like two more." And that happens a lot with artists. They're so done with it by the time it mostly comes out. I'd like to like to another EP of this EP. Get that together, and maybe I could release it toward the end of the year as a double EP album or vinyl, something that would be nice. I've got quite a few collaborations coming out with DJs and things and then next year is 10 years since Hands the first record. So some people have been threatening me, or requesting, some sort of 10-year anniversary gig or release or something. It just blows my mind that it's been 10 years since the first record! I don't know if I'm ready for that, but it's kind of intriguing. So maybe there's something we could do with that, we'll see.
EM: You have your own record label On Repeat Records, is there anything exciting happening with that?
LB: I mean we just release my stuff now because it's just so difficult to coordinate. We pivoted from releases, we do more like DJing events and art direction and different things like that. So we're not doing much on the release front other than my stuff because it's so consuming. But we're doing a launch party in London at the end of this month, my friend Anna from Metronomy who I DJ with quite a bit, she's going to be DJing as well, and we're doing a special limited edition orange cassette of a remix by Anna of one of the songs on the EP which you get if you attend. So that's a little release. Get your Walkman out. And then what else, I've got a live show in LA. My first live show of this year with a new band in May and then we're going to be playing Smog Fest as well--getting all the synths out for that. That should be a lot of fun and the lineup's awesome this year. That'll be really cool. Quite busy, a lot of stuff really.
EM: When can we catch you on the East Coast?
LB: Yeah, good question! I really need to sneak over to New York for show, I've been saying this for ages. Yeah definitely going to happen I think there may be a bit of a run in the fall--that would be great. Whether it's live or DJ I'd love to come back.
EM: I'll be there.
LB: Yeah definitely!
EM: Any words of wisdom before we go?
LB: Yes, any words of wisdom for the world out there. Yeah I mean, if you get your heart broken, just turn it into--do something creative with it. I feel it's the best inspiration out there like, it doesn't have to be heartbreak, but any pain, if you channel it into creative projects I think that's like the best feel ever really. That's what I've found with this EP. Taking a whole lot or negativity and turn it into something positive that's now out in the world has been an amazing process, not just creatively but emotionally so yeah. When things get bad, turn it into something good.