Pop always works best when there’s a beating, sometimes bleeding, heart at the centre of it. The power of the dichotomy of soaring pop melodies anchored by melancholia is something Foxes, aka 22-year-old singer and songwriter Louisa Rose Allen, knows only too well. “I always write melancholy songs but I like happy-sad,” she explains. “Songs that make you feel like everything’s shit at the beginning and then everything’s great by the end. It’s that hope. I’m a big fan of that sort of thing and I think I live my life a bit like that.” It’s there in spades on her new single Youth, a sky-scraping ode to grabbing your chances set to plaintive piano and echo-laden beats, and on the gargantuan Zedd collaboration, Clarity, which has soundtracked the summer in America and recently found itself nestled happily in the Billboard Top Ten.
Youth specifically has a special place in the story of how Foxes went from singing at open mic nights to performing rapturously received shows at SXSW and being name-checked as one to watch by global megastar, Katy Perry (“It feels really really unreal, it’s crazy,” she says in a daze). Originally released alongside Home as a 7” vinyl single by hugely respected pop label Neon Gold, not only did Youth get her the attention of Ms Perry, it was also the song that caught the ear of Lady Gaga-collaborator Zedd, UK production gurus Rudimental (Foxes appears on their current single Right Here) and also Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy who stopped his birthday party to ask a friend who was on the stereo before demanding she appear on the band’s new number one selling album (which she does on a song called Just One Yesterday, which they performed together for the first time live at Reading Festival last month). “There’s a lot that’s come from Youth,” she says with a slight hint of understatement. “For me, it makes sense to lead with it as the starting point after all of the featuring stuff. It’s where it all began and it’s what I’m most about – it makes the most sense.”
Youth is also evidence of the fact that while Clarity may have made her a star in the US (“I get recognised in America. I’ve had a lot of ‘oh my god, are you Foxes?’”), she’s keen to prove she also has the songs to do it on her own. “It’s funny for me because the American success is an accomplishment but it feels like Clarity has done that, and while that’s great, it’s about what I do now with my own stuff. I think I’ve still got a long way to go,” she says, with more than glint of determination piercing her saucer-like eyes. “I’m excited to get the new stuff out, it’s going to be really really great. This album for me is something I can’t wait to have out now.”
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