La Roux first took the charts by storm back in 2009 with the unforgettable hit ‘Bulletproof’ and now, after a five year hiatus, synth-pop queen Elly Jackson is back with Trouble in Paradise, featuring a whole new reggae-disco inspired sound.
Since splitting with producer and keyboardist Ben Langmaid in 2011, citing musical differences, La Roux’s frontwoman Elly Jackson has remained underground before bursting out with this summer’s critically-acclaimed album Trouble in Paradise.
La Roux fans might have been worried when two became one, especially after successes the likes of ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘In For The Kill,’ but Jackson’s solo effort has been received with open arms. Complete with funk guitar and Jackson’s striking vocals, it’s been a long creative process to reach an impressive new sound. In fact, the new tracks exude a warmer tone than we would ever have expected from the normally super cool La Roux.
“It’s kind of a shock now if I listen to the first record, to be honest, I’m like ‘what the f**k did we do – where’s the bottom end, the bass?’ says Jackson, “but at the time that was exactly what I wanted it to sound like.”
It’s not that Jackson and Langmaid “sat down and said, ‘Oh, we must not have any bass,’” when composing their hit first record, but “we chose to have specific influences and those influences just weren’t so warm.”
So it’s hardly surprising that today’s tracks follow a different sound; doesn’t everyone undergo a musical evolution in the space of eight years?
“It’s a bit like saying why don’t you go out with the same person you did when you were 17 – well, for obvious reasons,” Jackson agrees with a laugh. The synth-pop singer now sees her first record as an ex-boyfriend that she loved very much at the time, but now, she has moved on.
“I think everybody looks back at something at this point of their lives and goes, ‘I can’t say that time or the thing that I did wasn’t me, but I can’t exactly say that they are me,’ if that makes sense,” she explains. The record might have reflected, “where I was at the time,” but with aspects of Jackson’s musical influences taken out of the equation (by Langmaid), the singer admits to feeling, “somewhat shoe-horned into a corner.”
It’s a corner that she is now “trying to crawl out of!” with her new record. Trouble in Paradise’s disco vibes dominate, but even today, the artist, who grew up on a diet of folk, can’t quite put her finger on her multiple influences.
Saying that her beloved disco has, “a funniness and a cheekiness and a kind of boldness and a silliness – as long as its not the wrong kind of disco, there is a lot of novelty disco that is awful!” Jackson is now working with a new engineer, Ian Sherwin. Her 80s influences still resound, but it’s clear Jackson isn’t an artist frozen in time.
“At the end of one record, you think you’ve learnt everything. This is what everybody says, they go: ‘Oh, now I know what I’m going to do when I make the next album, I’m not going to make any of these mistakes again.’ Then you get to the next album and you realise that the same rules never apply.
“I think the fundamental thing is that Ian and I want the same thing artistically: he wants me to be the artist that I am.”
If this is the ‘real’ La Roux, we’re not complaining.