25 year old British songstress Foxes owes a lot to the advice of her mum. After all, it was her mum whose dreams of foxes howling in their street inspired her stage name. It’s her mum who possesses a “wild spirit” and whose unwavering belief in her ability to succeed has been unrelenting since Foxes first started plying her trade behind a microphone. There’s no doubt, then, that Foxes’ mum will be as pleased as the artist herself that her debut album has finally seen the light of day.
We chatted to Foxes (real name Louisa Rose Allen) during her recent tour with the Bastille boys to chat ‘Glorious’, Grammy success and how the road to fame began.
“I’ve been doing music for all my life and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she begins. “It’s all I’ve done and I haven’t had a back-up plan. My mum always said it’s really good to not have a safety net, so then you put everything into that one thing so it kind of has to work.
“I put a couple of songs on Soundcloud about two years ago now and ‘Gossip Girl’ somehow heard them. They outroed two episodes with about five minutes of these two tracks, which was mental for me, because I love ‘Gossip Girl’ and it’s such a huge show. So I guess that was the start of it.
“I then signed with a small boutique label called Neon Gold Records to put some things out. From there I signed with Sony and then I just started writing for other people and working with other people. Last year I went through my collaborating phase. It was nice for me actually. It was almost like an internship. I feel like I got to learn the ropes a bit and now here we are and I have my own album out.”
The collaboration phase, it has to be said, was pretty phenomenal. Foxes provided vocals for Rudimental’s chart favourite ‘Right Here’ and even lent her talents to Fall Out Boy’s album track ‘Just One Yesterday’. She is, however, acutely conscious of not just settling on being a “collaboration” artist.
“I love a good collab. I love working with other people and I love writing as well,” she says. “I definitely think I’ll write for other people and continue to keep songwriting in the future, because it’s part of what I do and it’s really important to me.
“But I think the collaborating thing… I think I made a conscious decision last year that, okay, this has to stop now. This is like world record territory. I wouldn’t say no, but I just want to focus on my own work for a bit.
Despite her chart success with Rudimental, it was her contribution to Zedd’s dancefloor monster ‘Clarity’ that catapulted her into the spotlight across the globe and subsequently earned her a Grammy.
“Yeah, it’s quite insane,” Foxes says, still clearly in disbelief at the success ‘Clarity’ achieved. “The Grammy is still in the box at my mum’s house. I haven’t got it out. I’m quite afraid of it. It’s such an incredible honour.”
She also confirms that both she and Zedd get their own shiny gold gramophone.
“I wouldn’t be sharing it,” she laughs. “We both got one. It’s amazing. This brown box turned up at my house and I genuinely thought it was Ikea parts that I’d ordered online. I opened the brown box and it was gold and I thought, ‘no, it’s not shelves’.”
This constant disbelief in the success that’s so far come her way raises its head in a number of interviews we’ve seen with Foxes before. She reveals it’s going to be a hard habit to break.
“I was talking to my tour manager the other day and was saying that I think I’m in a bit of shock. I said, ‘I can’t quite take everything in’ and she said, ‘You’ve got to start taking it in’. I know I do, but these are things that when I was 15 years old I used to have on my vision board.”
Now ten years old, the (recently rediscovered) vision board provides a startlingly accurate portrayal of what was to come.
“After I won the Grammy (that even feels weird saying that), my mum said, ‘Oh Lou, I found something and you’re just going to freak out when you see it’. She brought me this vision board of mine from back home and I literally stared at it in shock. It was ten years old and it had a Grammy in the middle, it had my name in lights, it had me learning to play instruments…
“It was all music related, but it was everything that’s happening now. I don’t think my 15 year old self would believe any of it if she was told what was happening in my career right now, which is mad.”
The Grammy Award, naturally is a highlight. But, as has been revealed in many interviews, she almost missed her award being announced.
“I really wish I hadn’t admitted to that,” Foxes reveals. “The event is dry. Really dry. So it was a bit like Brits Abroad. I was with Disclosure and Sam Smith, so we thought we could duck across the road, get some beer and come back.
“I was in a gown in a diner, but then my manager called me and said I needed to get back because they were about to call my category. I ran back, then I went on stage with chewing gum in my mouth and it was mental.”
Although ‘Clarity’ was a long way away from Foxes’ own musical stylings, the track and its success did afford her a rather magnificent springboard from which to launch into her album campaign.
“It’s nice now to be in my own territory,” the singer admits. “‘Clarity’ is very different to my own stuff. I wouldn’t have done any old song or been a part of something if I didn’t think I could bring something to it that meant something.
“I wanted to be able to give ‘Clarity’ something of me. So I think I’m really thankful for what ‘Clarity’ has done and it’s really nice for me to now have that as a springboard.”
It worked. Foxes’ three solo singles thus far have all reached the top 20 in the UK and her debut album ‘Glorious’ recently premiered at No.5 on the British albums chart. It’s the latter that means more.
“I definitely want to be an album artist and I want to keep making albums for the rest of my life if I can,” Foxes tells us. “It’s really important to me wherever I am in my career that I’m making albums and not just singles or that kind of thing. I want to make pieces of work.”
She understands, however, that in the digital era where the public can pick and choose which songs to buy from an LP, that makes the task a little more difficult.
“It’s so weird now,” she concurs. “I think another ‘pinch yourself’ moment was recently when I got a big box to the house (again) and it was lots of physical CDs of the album. So that was a real moment.
“It’s so nice to have a physical copy and I am worried that we’re going to turn into a generation that doesn’t actually ‘own’ something, that it’s all just online and you can’t actually hold it.”
Foxes tells us that the (February to May) delay in the album’s release was partly down to her wanting it to be released globally at the same time and partly because of the unexpected win at the Grammys.
“After that happened I thought, ‘fuck, there’s so much to be done here’ and I needed to hold it off a bit. I didn’t want to make people wait, but I wouldn’t have been able to be in the UK when I was promoting the album and that made no sense.”
Despite being a UK artist, there are media outlets and fans across the globe clambering for access to the starlet. But despite so many territories showing interest, the singer feels no pressure to succeed in any.
“I think any success is lovely,” Foxes admits. “It’s nice to have people in different places just listening to your music. I’d be happy if one person in Australia was listening to my music and I probably think that one person is. But it might be a few more and that’s insane to me. It feels other worldly that people around the world are listening and have copies of the album.”
The album itself is filled with feelings. As Foxes herself says, “all the feelings”.
“I can be emotional,” she admits. “I always find it annoying when people write about relationships all the time. There are the lyrics you can relate things back to and I like talking about general things that are going on with me and things that aren’t just about a break up. We’re all human and we all feel feelings.”
It’s also a sonically cohesive set, most of which was created under the careful control of Jonny Ghost.
“I guess it’s just my vision, so that’s why it sounds cohesive. I think if it was lots of different producers that were all bringing their ideas massively in, then maybe it could sound a bit like a jumble sale. I made sure that it was as small as it could be and that everyone shared the same vision.”
Fans of the singer will be thrilled to hear that, in between touring commitments, she’s already started working on her all-important sophomore album.
“I’m really excited about second album,” she fizzes. “I constantly write and I’m constantly feeling inspired – especially being around the world at the moment is really nice. I’m going on tour with Pharrell, which will be really fun. I’m so excited. And I’ve got lots of festivals in the UK like Glastonbury coming up, which will be cool. I’m going to write in between all of that – try and find time.
“It’s quite nice thinking about the second album, because I definitely think I’ve got a certain vibe and I don’t think that will change. I think there will always be moments that are similar, presumably just because it’s the way I write in general.
“It could evolve. I still love cinematic and anthemic moments in music. I think a lot of the time though will be what I’m feeling at that moment.”
And even though Foxes has already achieved an incredible level of success, she feels no pressure the second time ’round.
“I literally don’t. Before the album came out, people were asking whether I was feeling added pressure because of the Grammy, but I didn’t. I was really excited, but I was just really happy to have it out. It might sound mental, but I think I’m just genuinely happy that I’ve got an album that’s being bought.”
Living out her wildest teenage visions and instilled with such a simple ideal of “living life through the idea that you can do what you love”, we get the sneaking suspicion that Foxes must be making her mum extraordinarily and understandably proud.
Foxes’ album ‘Glorious’, containing the singles ‘Let Go For Tonight’, ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ and ‘Youth’, is available both physically and digitally now.