As an artist, kick-starting your musical career can be tough. There’s a lot of fumbling in the dark, hoping your music finds the right audience; it can be a lengthy and testing process.
Alternatively, you could go the Foxes route and casually bag yourself a Grammy before your debut album is even released.
In 2012 the British singer (real name: Louisa Allen) posted two songs online – Youth and Home. “The attention they got and the people they drew to me was interesting”, she says. EDM producer Zedd had been scouting online for a female vocalist to collaborate with on a new track called Clarity. On hearing Youth he got in touch. Allen explains, “We ended up doing it through email, I was just in a little bedroom recording the Clarity vocals which makes me laugh looking back”.
In January of this year Clarity won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. Though this was an amazing achievement so early in her career, Allen maintains that, “Clarity was Zedd’s baby, essentially. It was a strange little journey that I am blessed to have been a part of, but it put fire in my belly and made me want to achieve bigger things for my own body of work”.
If there was any downside to the Zedd collaboration, it was the misconceptions it created about Foxes as a solo artist. People who hadn't heard her solo material may have been expecting her to bring out an album of ‘club classics’.
Allen tells how, “there were a lot of people who said – You should just bring out twelve Clarity’s now, that would be the smart thing to do. And, well, it probably would have been. But it’s not me, so it’d be silly singing a bunch of EDM songs. Clarity felt right, I wouldn’t have just done any old dance song. I think it did connect with people.” However, the singer stuck to her guns, and continued to record an album she, “would be proud of”.
‘Glorious’ made its way into the album charts in May 2014. While it falls under the ever-expanding umbrella of “pop music”, there’s something unquestionably unique that distances it from the sort of music-factory pop that is saturating the market. “I think I write very personal, emotional pop music”, Allen explains. “I guess there’s an ethereal side to it that’s quite inspired by soundtracks”.
With the success of her debut, Allen was afforded new opportunities in areas slightly outside her remit. Most recently, she appeared on Doctor Who performing a jazzy, down-tempo cover of Don’t Stop Me Now. Allen explains she was performing at a BBC conference where there happened to be a Doctor Who showcase behind her stage. She snuck back to take a look and got talking to the show’s producers. “I was just fangirling and saying my grandma really loves the show,” she says. “A couple of weeks later I got a call from them saying, ‘We actually saw you playing and we’d love you to do a song on the show!’ ”.
When she’s not fangirling over sci-fi, Loui (as she likes to be known) spends a lot of time running – recently heading up an Adidas campaign aimed at encouraging female runners. Talking about these sorts of commercial partnerships, she asserts that, “it’s very important what you say no to.”
“I will only take the things I have belief in, and would never do something I’m unhappy doing”. Allen was allowed to work quite closely with the Adidas team on the campaign video, and she felt that, “it was really inspiring in the end. It didn’t feel like a corporate campaign, more like something I had a bit of passion about.”
Ending her touring this year, which includes a Dublin date next month, Allen admits, “this is like a farewell for ‘Glorious’”.
Moving onto the next chapter, she has already started writing for the second album, promising to have something out as soon as possible in the new year. In terms of how we can expect this new material to sound, she says she never likes it when artists, “steer too far away from what they started out as”.
She elaborates, “The new album will be different, because I’m different now. But I want to keep the essence of the first album, and lyrically I want to stay writing about the same things”.
Apart from her work with Zedd, Allen has also featured on Fall Out Boy and Rudimental’s most recent albums. We’re wondering though, if her record label could pull all the strings, who she’d most like to get on the next Foxes release – “I’d pick Patti Smith! Does it have to be just one? I love Patti Smith and I love Hozier. And maybe… Eminem, to shake it up a bit. Yeah, that would be fun!”
We would really love to hear Hozier, Patti Smith and Eminem end up on the same Foxes track – surely a winning formula.
Foxes plays The Academy, Dublin on Thursday 4th December.