CHEER­LEADER

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

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.”

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