This Sunday, Nouveau York goes Pop with British singer Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots. The 27-year-old songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist also masters the skills of DJing. With influences ranging from Kraftwerk to Britney Spears, The Human League to Jean-Michel Jarre, Victoria will bring her fresh British whizz of pop to Le Bain. Get ready with Little Boots’ Standard Q&A.
The Standard: It is a shame, Victoria, we’ve been interviewing artists performing at Le Bain since the opening, and we just realized you might be the first girl being featured. Do you feel like the DJ scene is kind of male driven?
Little Boots: Definitely! The leading UK dance magazine DJ Mag just published its annual top 100 DJ’s list and there wasn’t a single girl in it!
It is a bit surprising to realize today’s pop music might be less conservative than the dance music scene… Girls obviously have taken the control of pop, from Madonna to Lady Gaga, Beyonce to Adele, but not of the dance imagery.
I think there are girls working very hard in dance music but there does seem to be quite a male stigma around DJ’ing, I think it goes back to the whole idea that girls are technophobes and won’t be able to deal with all the “difficult equipment”, it’s very similar in music production also… it’s very rare you see female producers, engineers and mixers. It’s a real shame.
Which girl DJ’s inspire you the most?
Annie Mac is amazing and is doing so much to show women can be hugely successful DJ’s especially here where she has a national radio show. I’m also a big fan of Miss Kittin. In London, Nadia Kasabia and Hanna Hanra are great and the Broken Heart DJ’s are too cute for words.
It is not common to have a pop artist touring as a DJ. How did you start?
When I first moved to London I was just starting out and didn’t have much money, it was something people had always asked me to do and seemed an easy way to earn a bit of cash. I basically learned on the job playing in a divey pub in east London for not very much at all, then got booked for a tour so had to up my game. Now it’s a real part of what I do. I really enjoy it and love hunting down new songs to play and lost gems.
You are an accomplished pianist and multi instrumentalist … Playing with records could feel like a frustrating experience compared to playing music with instruments, but it seems it is not - as Juan MacLean of DFA explained to us a few weeks ago. What kind of satisfaction does DJ’ing give you?
It’s very different from playing instruments where I’m constantly thinking… in a way it’s a nice break from that… you can let someone else’s music do the work! It’s a brilliant way to have a night out where you get to choose all the music and dance around. The main thing I’ve learned is that if you’re not having fun and enjoying yourself, neither will the crowd, so you just have to give in to it.
(Little Boots’ intimate bedroom version of Meddle)
As a DJ, what is your lucky charm record?
Oh that’s a tough one, it changes a lot but at the minute I’ve got an amazing trippy edit of Chaka Khan I keep playing.
You have been playing piano since you were five and have been into music since then. Do you think music skills come with nature or nurture?
My family aren’t really that musical so it’s hard to say, it’s just something I remember asking to do from a very early age. I’m lucky enough my family were so supportive and put up with paying for all my lessons and instruments and driving me to auditions all over the place!
Could you describe your first music coup-de-foudre as a kid?
When I was two, I was ‘I’ for icing on the cake in a local Christmas ballet production! I couldn’t dance, that’s when I realized what the accompanist on the piano was doing, and it was more interesting to me.
And one of your perfect child moments?
I was probably about ten and I remember wanting this electronic piano so badly. It had a floppy disc drive and everything, so you could load awful tracks to play along to. It cost a small fortune and I’d asked for it for Christmas but didn’t really expect to get it. I walked out of my room on Christmas morning and my mum and brothers were there and I was half asleep and walked straight past it… The look on my face when I turned around must have been priceless.
Is becoming a worldwide famous pop star a fun goal to follow? Or a pact with the Devil?
[Laughs] Good question, it’s a difficult one… there’s definitely elements of this job that involve doing a deal with the devil. I think I’ve learned that a lot of it is about knowing when to compromise and when to stand your ground… maybe I didn’t do that enough around the last record.
If you had the power to live in someone else’s body for one day in the past or present, who would you pick and on what special day?
Maybe Gaga on Christmas day, just to see what she wears and if she chills out and has a day off from craziness or not.
You started writing your own songs at the age of thirteen. Could you share with us the verse or chorus of yours that you cherish the most?
I always cringe talking about lyrics. I guess I do really love the lyrics in the new single “Shake Until Your Heart Breaks”. It seems kind of throwaway on the first listen but when you think about the physicality of it it’s actually quite violent and disturbing, but also kind of sad. They’re my favorite kind of lyrics.
(Little Boots’ Shake)