LA ROUX | The Pop Alchemist
Flaunt Magazine la roux savannarruedy 2a.jpg ![Flaunt Magazine la roux savannarruedy 2a.jpg](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be2dd9c940c1f9790380_Flaunt%2BMagazine%2Bla%2Broux%2Bsavannarruedy%2B2a.jpeg) With the recent [La Roux](https://www.instagram.com/larouxroux/?hl=en) album _Supervision_, Elly Jackson has taken on duties to continue exploring the depths of pop. Sacrificing the naïveté of her early works, what transpires is a devotional path towards production and instrumentation which serves as an unadulterated exploration into her craft, incubated away from trivial leanings. As the pop star emerges from the dust of electronics and glides into groove we linked up with the “Red One” as she speaks frankly on her music process, rejection of labels, and the path that has lead to her enthralling production. **A lot of madness has transpired since the release and creation of this album, how do you feel your music’s narrative is helping to heal the world right now?** Hopefully it’s just providing a slice of joy and freedom for people in a time where all of our freedoms have been restricted. There is a lot to be down about and to feel very odd about.  I’m trying to make a new record at the moment and even though I’m still doing it, it’s hard as the mood of the planet is just so odd. I think the most I can hope for _Supervision_ to do is to lift people up and lift their spirits slightly. And also for anyone that is lost in a mental health sense, that album is heavy on a mental health tip and it helped me through being very lost as a person. I think tracks like “Do you Feel” and “Everything I Live For”…. maybe some of the strength at the end of “Gullible Fool” - the turnaround in the tunes might give some people some kind of hope or something, but it also seems a bit stupid talking about the hope of coming out of this at the moment. Obviously we will come out of it, but at the moment we just have to deal with what we are in right now, and do the best we can right now. I think in a way looking ahead too much is slightly fruitless. **How do you feel that your work as La Roux has evolved over the past 3 albums?** I feel like my work has evolved in lots of ways but also feel like it’s not gone on the classic trajectory that I was possibly sort of hoping for, and I think there are a lot of different factors that could contribute to that.   Obviously, the first record is a bit simplistic and naive and its drawing on my ‘80s electronic synth influences. Then I had a choice at that point whether I did the same album for the rest of my life, and I was always, always, always ‘80s synth, or whether I at least tried to mangle that and grow it into something else. I think my ambition to want to be a better musician has changed the course of my genre leanings. I’ve looked at musicians from a soul genre and I’ve wanted to at least try to be as good of a musician as I possibly can be throughout my life, and to have a real understanding of groove, and a real understanding of harmony, which is also sometimes a bit harder for me as I don't read music. There is no possible way of me learning the rules of music as it were. So me becoming so much better at groove has been one of the ways that I can be a better trained musician without actually training because groove is internal. I think me being quite so obsessed with that side of things has really changed where my genre trajectory and style has gone. Having made _Supervision_ weirdly I felt like the minute it came out - literally the second it came out, I felt like ‘Oh, I just really needed to do that,’ almost to kind of make a point to myself, and others I guess, about what I was capable of.   **What about the roots of the music structures? Besides grooving how does electronic music fit, and how do you feel it relates to you?** When it came to, I guess more the heart of music, like when you take away a synthesizer and you're just left with the original instruments of music like guitars and bass and stuff like that, for me it felt really important to get good at those foundations. Now that I feel like I have, I feel like I’ve kind of got it out of my system and actually now I would like to go back – and I am currently making - and make much, much more electronic music which is a little bit harder.  I think also the splits in the relationships within La Roux have contributed massively to where the music has gone. Like me and Ben arguing about the style in the second album, and then me needing to make this album to prove that the sound of La Roux - and it still feels weird saying it - it feels like it's mine. I still feel selfish and greedy saying that; it's true but I still feel bad about saying it. I think it all depends on what you want to do at the time as an artist and how you feel, what you want to prove, and also what you feel works at what age. For me, if I wanted to make a Folk record or African Instrumental record, which I would love to, I wouldn't choose to do it now as it's the kind of thing that you do when you are younger because you could get away with it. When you are younger, do what suits you being young. I think that's also influenced what I do and when I do it as I'm very aware of things working better at certain times of your life. **How do you feel you have grown as a producer, what are your inspirations as you go towards a more rock and funk oriented sound?** I feel I’ve grown enormously as a producer, but I still also feel like I have a scary amount to learn. There’s production, in the sense of being able to produce my own La Roux records and know what’s right for me is one thing, but knowing what’s right for almost any record that is thrown your way is a whole different ball game. I’m still learning lots and lots of different processes, and ways to look at a track, and hear it, and the different jobs and roles things can play within a track is still something I’m constantly experimenting with, and learning about every second of every day. I feel like there’s a huge journey ahead of me with production, and there always will be, but I do feel like being able to put together your own records and have ideas in your head and be able to make them happen yourself is incredibly empowering. I find it extremely enjoyable.  That’s been a really important process in the whole journey of La Roux, is me becoming self-sufficient in that sense, or as self-sufficient as humanly possible where it’s necessary.  I feel like the previous question covered this as well, essentially I’ve been trying out a lot of different things, and really I just want to keep trying out lots of different things when and if they feel right. I still have a very long way to go.  **Why do you feel like pop music is so important right now, how do you see yourself growing around it?** Pop music is always important, it’s very easy to underestimate the importance of something that spreads that far, and is that populous. I think it’s very easy to downplay it, but when something has that far of a reach, if you put a really positive message into something that has _that_ far of a reach, to say that that has no power is mental. I think because of that, though, this is where music has always had the possibility to be a good thing and a bad thing. There needs to be a balance.  I feel that over the last 10 years, there hasn’t really been a great balance in pop music of good, wise, interesting artists making pop music, and your average manufactured, commercial music. The balance sort of tips society into one direction or the other. You may think I’m mad and that I’m taking music way too seriously, but it’s not that the music itself tips it, but it becomes a mirror for how things are tipped.  **How do you feel that culture and pop music is coexisting from now compared to a decades time ago, is it stronger or how do you see their relationship?** I feel like in the last 10 years we’ve seen a lot of the wrong kinds of reflection of society, and you either agree with me or you don’t. There’s not a lot of point in me trying to explain my point because you’ll either be one of the people that agrees with me, or you won’t and you never will so I would just be wasting my time explaining myself.  I think music is important, I think it’s always been important, not more so now than ever, but I feel like we could possibly be moving into a time where we don’t see pop as anything of real quality. That’s something I don’t enjoy; I don’t like the way that feels. There’s a difference between a really well-written, manufactured pop song, and a genuinely genius, intelligent track written by an artist alone that sells millions and millions of copies. To say that those two things are the same, and that having one is the same thing as having the other, is madness, and I feel like we have that conversation a lot in the media. I’m just bored of it \*laughs\*. I feel like I’m right, and I’m never going to stop thinking that I’m right about needing these two things to coexist, not it being one or the other.  **Your track Gullible Fool works in more sparse backgrounds. How did you come about composing this and choosing to end the album on that note? Is there a hint of the directions you are experimenting in?** “Gullible Fool” was actually a happy accident. I was writing “Everything I Live For” and I knew I needed at least one or two more tracks before I went in to record with Dan Carey, which was coming up in like a week, two weeks when I wrote “Gullible Fool.” I was freaking out about time a bit.  It just sort of happened in the middle of the night, just as I was closing my “Everything I Live For” session for the day. It’s just one of those tracks that did what it did; it lead _me_, I didn’t lead _it_. I didn’t think, ‘Wow, I’d love to make a track like this,’ because I think if you try to make a track like “Gullible Fool” you’d end up somewhere very disingenuous. It just happened and I allowed it to happen. It lead me through it and I just followed it, really. It was a really, really enjoyable process. It was like a dream, I wasn’t controlling it, it was amazing.  I think when you have that experience with a song, you know what to do with it, you know what the song is for, you know why it is and why it exists. There weren’t any questions around it being the last track on the album, it had to be. It was the last one I wrote; it leaves you with the right taste in your mouth. But I wouldn’t say it’s leading on to where I’m going creatively now, no.  Partly because I feel like I did it so well, I’m not trying to play my own trumpet, but I feel like in terms of me doing a track like that, I’m not sure if I could do it a lot better than me and Dan. I mean we got that so right, we’re so happy with it, I couldn’t be happier with it if I tried. When you’ve completed a level, you don’t go back and do it again when you’ve done it perfectly, or in your head you’ve done it perfectly. Wherever I feel like I’ve completed something, you won’t hear me do it again. I just feel like I’d be wasting my time, repeating myself, and competing with myself doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, that was a special track for me and I hope other people feel it, I really do.  Flaunt Magazine la roux savannarruedy 2b.jpg ![Flaunt Magazine la roux savannarruedy 2b.jpg](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be2dd9c940c1f979037c_Flaunt%2BMagazine%2Bla%2Broux%2Bsavannarruedy%2B2b.jpeg) **You recently came out and are now this figure for a normalized post activist sentiment of the queer identity, is there anything you want to say to state about the way you approach sex/gender politics?** Not in particular, I feel like I’ve said everything I wanted to say; I think saying your point again and again and again in different ways only dilutes it and probably confuses the message. I think it’s interesting that even the way that you’ve written it in your question, it kind of is, again, creating a label for what _I’ve_ said even, which is something the world has a tendency to do.  I don’t understand how people do it, but even the way you’ve written, ‘figure for a normalized post-activist sentiment.’ I mean, that wouldn’t even cross my mind to describe it like that \*laughs\* but I guess you’re right to title it like that, but at the same time why are we obsessed with finding a title even for what I’ve said?  I think this is the bit that people aren’t really getting, how severe I see this weird titling/labeling thing. I get, obviously, in journalism there’s a need for writing the way something is, succinctly and kind of labeling it, of course I understand why that has to be done in certain contexts, but I do feel like we’ve become kind of obsessed with it.  For some people, they may feel one way and they may need one path for themselves, and they still may feel that they need complete activism in this area because they grew up in an area where there’s shitloads of discrimination, and their family rejected them, and God knows what might have happened, you know?  All I’m saying, is that course we can all carry the torch for a person that had that hard time, of course we can all stick up for them, we can all fight the cause, that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean that every single person can say that they’ve felt that, or can say that they relate to that, or can say that they can stand up for people that felt something that they haven’t felt. That’s actually not that easy.  I think it’s more just about me saying that, for me – and maybe it’s _just_ me and that’s okay, as well – but just for me personally, I have never felt a need to feel a lot of the ways I’ve been told I need to feel, or should feel, or behave as a gay person. That’s really all I’m saying, and I feel like I haven’t really been allowed to say that before, and I’ve really just got the guys to say it. Also why have I been so scared to say that? That can’t be right.  I think that’s really all I’m trying to say, but it’s very difficult to talk in this area of sexuality without creating a lot of attention around what you’ve said, which I also don’t like \*laughs\*. Hopefully my words haven’t been misconstrued and hopefully what I’m saying makes sense, because there doesn’t need to be more confusion right now.  I think my main feeling is that integration… like complete and utter woven integration, to the point where its unnoticeable and where we’re _all_ completely and utterly equal and on a level with each other in terms of perception and everything, I don’t think we’re going to get closer to that by ramping up the labeling. I think those are the two things that don’t align for me. My dream, as a person, is just that whatever I want sexually, and within my sexuality and my relationship and love realms – and anybody else wants, however different or varied that looks --- that there is no version of it that should not be considered 100 percent normal. Even the labeling of the word queer, or bi, or non-binary, or whatever the other words are, I don’t feel like they’re going to help get to the place of 100 percent integration, which I think for most people they can’t even imagine what that would look like at the moment. I don’t feel like if I label myself -- and therefore sort of separate myself from the very boring construct of straight couples, straight people, straight male and female, all of that stuff – I don’t think that level of labeling is going to get us out of that place sooner.  That’s the main point I’m trying to make, I’m not trying to say there’s no place for activism anymore because there’s still homophobia. It would be quite unwise to say that, but at the same time I do feel like my other point is also valid.  **What are you listening and viewing right now that is inspiring your design sonically and visually?** Not really, I don’t get directly inspired by things in that sort of way. It’s often very mundane things that inspire me, you know I was listening to some dance music again the last couple of months, like Mr. Fingers and just some stuff I haven’t heard in a while, and that really made me have an energy and made me think about the energy I wanted to convey in my next work.  I don’t know I’m looking at energy, and aggression and stuff at the moment, and I’ve got quite a lot of ideas that are spanning fairly varying styles, so I’m just going to keep throwing stuff at the moment and see what I end up with the bulk of at the end. If the bulk of it’s electronic, it’ll be electronic. If the bulk of it’s this kind of more gritty thing I’ve got going on, then I’ll go down that road. It sort of depends at the moment.  * * * Photography: [Savanna Ruedy](http://instagram.com/savannarruedy). Fashion: [Willyum Beck](http://instagram.com/willyumbeck). Hair & Makeup: [Victor Noble](http://instagram.com/victornoblepr). Photography Assistant: [Kooky](http://instagram.com/kookyshootz).  Fashion Assistant: [Nat Miller](https://www.instagram.com/babyboynat/).