Formed initially as a bedroom band project by childhood friends Joe Haller and Chris Duran, the Philadelphia-based band are fast gathering a head of steam. Songs such as New Daze and forthcoming single Perfect Vision hint at potential indie-pop crossover to come within a short space of time.
Louisa Rose Allen is a firm believer in fate. The young woman behind Foxes – her electro-indie alias – almost ditched a career in music for one in beauty therapy. Today, instead of explaining her music to journalists on a beautiful spring day at her record label’s Dublin HQ, she could be doing pedicures, applying eyelashes and fixing fake tans for folks in her native Southampton.
“I had lots of friends who were going off to do a beauty course; at the time, I was 17 and thought ‘Oh, I’ll just go off with them and do it – it’s what my friends are doing’,” she explains. “And then my sister rang me and said ‘What the hell are you doing? You don’t wanna be a beauty therapist, you want to be a singer and you’ve always wanted to be a singer!’. She basically said ‘Come up to London, live on my sofa, live out of a suitcase and go to music school.’ That day, we packed the car full of all of my stuff, my mum drove me to London, and I didn’t ever go back.”
Her sister’s intervention proved especially providential because seven years later – and before she has even released her debut album – the 24-year-old Allen has already notched up her first Grammy Award, thanks to a collaboration with dance producer Zedd on his track Clarity.
To get the full picture, however, we need to rewind to her days as a mere cub. “I was writing from a young age – I wrote my first song, Like Foxes Do, around 13,” she says. “I was lucky that both my mum and my sister had great taste in music and a real passion for strong female singers like Patti Smith, Björk, Tori Amos, Kate Bush. That was very much my soundtrack, growing up. My dad was a musician, but I don’t speak to him; but maybe it’s in the genes.”
She took the name Foxes from that early song, and from a dream that her mother once had about the animals. It also helped her distinguish herself from the similarly-named Lily Allen. About a year and a half ago, during her early dabblings in recording she caught a lucky break when producer Anton Zaslavski – aka Zedd – heard one of her songs online. The Russian-born musician and producer had already produced and co-written with the likes of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
“He’d heard one of the songs that I’d put online before I’d got a record deal,” she explains. “He got hold of me and said that he’d been looking for a female to work with for some time, and my voice really grabbed him. We ended up Skypeing because he lives in LA, then I went over and we worked together. Neither of us had any idea what Clarity would do.”
The song became a mammoth hit in the US last year, peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the dance charts and filling dancefloors from coast to coast. The Grammy win, a “total shock”, came in January. “I went back every now and then and I saw how American was taking to it,” Allen says. “Over a year, it just blew up. It has become its own being now; I feel like it’s out of our hands. It’s weird, because it really did do something that not many songs do.”