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Interview: Foxes on her 'All I Need' album.

Interview: Foxes on her 'All I Need' album.

When you hear the word Foxes, what do you think of first? The cute and cuddly urban mammal? Or the similarly cute and cuddly Louisa Rose Allen, who borrowed the name to use as her musical moniker? If it's not the second, listening to her new album 'All I Need' will go a long way to convincing you that perhaps it should be. Powerful vocals and glimmering synths wrap up painfully relatable lyrical stories into heartfelt ballads and disco bangers alike, each nestling neatly into position on a perfectly poppy track-list.

We spoke to Foxes prior to the album's release, to explore her take on unleashing her sophomore LP into the world. Along with finding out what's changed - and what's stayed the same - we talked foodie tours of London and flights to Mars (just to get some perspective, you know?). Turns out that she can draw inspiration from just about anywhere; the disco vibes of Cyndi Lauper to her Mum's dreams, to girls supporting other girls through breakups. Oh, and she really, really loves a good breakfast.

"...constantly challenging yourself and being busy is nourishing and healthy. It's really unhealthy to suddenly think that you're not actually doing anything for yourself or the world."

COUP DE MAIN: Has the period leading up to the release of 'All I Need' been particularly exciting or nerve-wracking for you?
FOXES: I think it's always quite nerve-wracking when you've been waiting and it's getting closer and closer. I'm really, really excited because it's something at this stage that I'm really proud of, in terms of an album that I've just written, compared to the last one, which felt quite spaced out, and I was quite young. I'm really excited, shit scared!! <laughs> There's going to be a tour afterwards so I'm really looking forward to that.

CDM: Does it feel different having released an album before?
FOXES: It does, yeah! You learn a lot from the first album. You know what to expect, you're like, “I kinda know a bit about how this works,” but you're always starting over. This album I felt like I was really starting again; you have to find that starting point and try to be better than you've ever been. It's fun, but scary.

CDM: Do you think it's a more cohesive record for being written in a shorter time?
FOXES: Massively, yeah. It feels more like a piece of work this time around. I chose a lot of the producers I worked with and I wrote most of it very quickly, in three months. The other one felt like, because I was writing it from the age of 17 to 24, a bit disconnected. It's got a theme and it feels like a piece of work this time round. It feels like it fits.

CDM: How would you describe the change between your previous record, 'Glorious', and the new album?
FOXES: It's funny, because I think the first record felt very produced. I just threw everything at it that I knew at that time. This time around I wanted to filter it, in a way. I wanted to try and refine what I was about. This album's a lot clearer and cleaner, and maybe it is a bit more pop. I've tried to keep the essence of what Foxes was from the first album. They're similar, but this is a bit more emotional.

HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY NEW ALBUM…

 

CDM: Here are some quickfire questions about 'All I Need' to answer in one word. If the album were an animal, what would it be?
FOXES: It probably wouldn't be a fox this time round. I'd say the first album would be a fox. It would be a bird, I think. Maybe a dove.

CDM: If it were a season, which one would it be?
FOXES: I feel like it's a few seasons! It's got a lot of tracks on it that feel like Summer and a lot that feel like Autumn and Winter. It would probably be Spring, when it's just starting to bloom. When you're getting excited about the Summer to come.

CDM: How would you sum it up in one word?
FOXES: Raw. It's quite emotional! One word's so hard. Personal, let's go with personal.

CDM: A single we've already heard is 'Body Talk' - one of my favourite tracks of 2015. It's got a really fantastic disco vibe to it. Did you draw inspiration from any older artists in the making of it?
FOXES: Yeah, I really did. Cyndi Lauper, I definitely had a lot of inspiration from her. She's someone I just loved growing up. There's emotion in her music, and there's also that real sense of freedom and fun. I wanted 'Body Talk' to have that kind of feeling. It's that 80s theme. I had Cyndi Lauper in my head, and also movies like 'Drive'. A lot of that synth stuff I do in my music, there's inspiration from a lot of 80s movies. I wanted the essence of that 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' thing!

CDM: 'Body Talk' might be my favourite song on the album, but what's yours?
FOXES: I think vocally, my favourite song to sing - and the most personal, probably - is 'On My Way'. It was a way of throwing out loads of emotion into writing; it was therapeutic. By writing that, I let go of some things.

CDM: You've had some incredible live shows recently, including playing London's Heaven last year. What's your favourite song off the new record to perform live?
FOXES: 'Body Talk'! 'Body Talk' or 'Amazing'.  When I did Isle Of Wight Festival last year no-one had heard any of the new music, so I was like, "Oh, god, this is gonna be really scary, how's it gonna go down?” I think 'Body Talk' had just come out, but the strangest thing was everyone, within going into the second chorus, people in the audience were singing this music they didn't know! They'd be singing 'Better Love', I guess, because it's quite repetitive, but it was just so nice! I think 'Body Talk' is definitely really fun to do live. Everyone just lets go - you can't not dance, I think!

CDM: The video for 'Amazing' shows you and some friends hanging out and having a great time. If we were going to spend a day hanging out in London, what would you want to do?
FOXES: I always have to base my day around food. I wake up in the morning, and my breakfast, lunch, and dinner is always in my mind. I'd like to base it round food, even if we did a food crawl of the best places and just slowly eased ourselves into getting drunk throughout! We'd have to go for an incredible breakfast somewhere - I love breakfast! It's the best thing ever. We'd have a massive breakfast and start it off great - fill the stomach! Then we'd probably go to my Mum's stall in Brick Lane [Market, East London] and get her to dress us up! She does vintage clothes, it's called 'Vintage Upmarket'. She's good fun. It's like that old show 'Mr Benn'; it's very magical. Then it would probably be food again! Maybe we'd go to Borough Food Market - that place is ridiculous! You can just go round and get fed, you don't even have to buy anything! It's like a massive buffet! Then we'd go for a pint at about 4 in a pub, carry on drinking pints, get a bit tipsy. In the evening we'd probably go out to a cocktail bar and then go and have dinner and drink more!

CDM: Back to the 'Amazing' video; it's also a really positive depiction of friendship between young women. What do you think is so special about this kind of bond?
FOXES: I know what I get up to with my friends. I'm quite tomboy, I think a lot of girls are, and I just wanted to show what really happens - especially if you've had a breakup and your friends are there for you. I know I've done the whole eating a tub of ice-cream with a wooden spoon - it's the real side of it! It's not glamorous, it's real. They're trying to pick me up, and it was important to show that real friendship with girls. I wanted to show a realistic view of what a girls' weekend is compared to what people think it is. Not that glamorous! Stupid things like weeing on the side of the road, stuff like that!

CDM: Were those your actual friends in the video?
FOXES: I know them - they're not my best friends, but through filming we got really close. They're great girls, I did pick them to be in the video! I don't think I could do it with my real friends - we wouldn't get anything done! At least there was a bit of professionalism!

CDM: You've had songs about both heaven and hell on your records. What do those places mean to you?
FOXES: I'm learning that in life you need a balance of the two. You can't always be happy, you can't always be sad, you can't always be in heaven. You've got to have this balance to realise what the other one is. Heaven is being surrounded by the right people, and having a sense of self-worth and self-love. Hell is feeling lost; if I'm lost in a situation or feel like I don't have anyone to turn to. It's about who's around you and feeling strong in yourself.

CDM: 'Rise Up' is the name of the album's intro and outro. Is it about rising up against something, or ascending to somewhere?
FOXES: It's more about moving on and rising up. It's about strength, and feeling that you can overcome something and feel strong. It's accepting everything and rising up from something that's been bad for you.

CDM: Also in the intro you've got an adorable vocal sample of a kid saying, “If I was a bird I could fly far away.” If you could fly anywhere right this second, where would you want to go?
FOXES: Mars! It would be great to just go to Mars and chill out for a couple of hours. Just dangle your legs over Mars and look at the world. It would be quite nice to do that - get some perspective!

CDM: 'Money' is about all the things money can't do - how it can't substitute for a relationship or make you happy on its own. Lots of musicians keep working even when they've made enough money to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Do you think music and other art-forms give us something richer than money can buy?
FOXES: Of course. There's got to be an outlet for people. I think constantly challenging yourself and being busy is nourishing and healthy. It's really unhealthy to suddenly think that you're not actually doing anything for yourself or the world. I think that's why people carry on doing it; they need to. A lot of people don't get into it because of money - that's the wrong way to look at it. Or they want to make more money, which is actually wrong! I'd be doing this even if I had all the money. It's good, it's what I need.

CDM: You've collaborated with H&M on a clothing collection and always look totally on point. You're also signed with Premier Model Management and your Mum has her own vintage clothing stall. Is your image important to you?
FOXES: Definitely. I feel like it's all reflected around my mood. I literally dress how I'm feeling, my feelings are what I wear. If I'm in a shit mood I'll just wear black.

CDM: Can we just talk about the fact that today you're wearing a black leather jacket and black jeans!?
FOXES: <laughing> It's January, and I feel like a moody teenager at the moment! I feel like I'm 14 again. I think everyone does a bit. I've always loved characters in films, and I've always loved dressing as a character for a day. I'm from a background that has it - my Mum's obsessed with fashion! She always looks so much more glamorous than me. She's always like, “Can you just take that hoodie off and put a pair of high heels on and try and look slightly presentable?” I'm terrible! I'm a tomboy, a total tomboy!

CDM: You're going to have a massive 2016, but which other artists are on your list of ones to watch for the year ahead?
FOXES: There's a girl called Dua Lipa, that I think is great. She's got it, she's cool. I really want some balls put back into the music industry! I feel a bit like we're missing that. Not in a bad way... kind of in a bad way. I'd quite like something with a bit of substance, a real artist that's got a bit of depth. Someone that you could follow their career and their albums. I think we need a fresh thing for that. Woman's Hour! They've been around, I think they're touring at the moment. They live near me. I think they're releasing a second album! Their videos are great as well.

CDM: You've always had big name fans, from Pete Wentz to Katy Perry. Which celebrity would you be most excited to hear had started listening to your music?
FOXES: It was so weird when Pharrell had heard of me! It just doesn't feel real. I listen to a lot of my heroes, that would be weird, to hear they've heard of me. I don't think I'd want Patti Smith to hear me though! I think it would be awful! She'd be like, “That's shit!”

CDM: A lot of people are thrown by the name “Foxes”, thinking you're a band rather than a singer. Why did you choose to use this stage name rather than your own?
FOXES: I did want to call myself Foxes because I didn't want to use my name. I wanted people to feel more drawn to the music. I wanted something really ambiguous, that didn't really make that much sense. I achieved that quite well! I wrote a song when I was 13 called 'Like Foxes Do', and it became a nickname growing up. I couldn't call myself Louisa Rose Allen, because of Lily Rose Allen - it's just too close! I called my Mum and was like, “Mum, I think I'm gonna call myself Foxes.” She was like “What? Last night I had a dream that I woke up in the middle of the night and these foxes were running up our street making all these haunting noises! I woke up relating foxes to you.” It was odd! She's quite intuitive as well - a bit of a nutter. Mums are usually right as well, so I went with it.

A MESSAGE FOR NEW ZEALAND…

CDM: Coup De Main is based in New Zealand. Is there any chance you're going to be bringing 'All I Need' to fans there on tour?
FOXES: I would love to! I really wanted to take the first album out there. I've come so close. I would really love to, especially with this album. I want to tour this album as much as possible. If people want you to be there, then you'll be there.

Foxes' new album 'All I Need' is out now - click HERE to purchase it via iTunes.

Watch the 'Amazing' music video below…

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