La Roux

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This article is about the musical act. For their self-titled album, see La Roux (album).
Not to be confused with LaRue or La Rue.
La Roux
La Roux Eleanor Elly Jackson.jpg
Elly Jackson of La Roux performing at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, England, on 11 September 2010
Background information
Origin Brixton, London, England
Genres Synthpop
Years active 2006–present
Labels
Associated acts Kanye West
Website laroux.co.uk
Members Elly Jackson
Past members Ben Langmaid

La Roux (/lɑːˈr/ lah-ROO) are a former English synthpop duo; it was founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Elly Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid. Their self-titled debut studio album (2008) peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart and won the Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2011. The record spawned the hit single "Bulletproof", which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and number eight on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. La Roux became a solo project consisting of Jackson following the departure of Langmaid in 2013, leaving much of their second studio album Trouble in Paradise (2014) under Jackson's creative direction. La Roux's music is influenced by 1980s British synthpop acts including Yazoo, Erasure, Depeche Mode,[1] OMD, The Human League, Heaven 17 and Eurythmics.[2]

Recording history[edit]

2006–10: Beginnings and La Roux[edit]

La Roux first found major success with "In for the Kill"

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In 2006, Jackson and Langmaid were introduced by a mutual friend. Their first project was named "Automan" and they wrote largely acoustic music due to Jackson's great admiration of acts like Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell.[2] The band's name refers to Jackson's red hair and tomboyish appearance, mingling the masculine ("le roux") and feminine ("la rousse") French terms; she has said: "To me, it means 'red-haired one'—and it does, vaguely. It's just a male version of 'red-haired one'".[3]

La Roux's debut single, "Quicksand", was released by French independent record label Kitsuné Music in December 2008.[2] They then signed to Polydor Records in order to release their debut album. La Roux's second single, "In for the Kill", was released on 16 March 2009. Later, two prominent dubstep producers, Skream and Skrillex, created remixes of the track.[4][5] Another remix was made by Lifelike.[6] "In for the Kill" debuted at number eleven on the UK Singles Chart on 22 March 2009, peaking at number two four weeks later. "Bulletproof", later remixed by dubstep producer and DJ Chrispy, was released on 21 June 2009 and debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart.[7] The song was released on 11 August 2009 in the United States and topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart the week of 17 September. As of 11 June 2010 it had peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and had sold over 2.0 million copies. The band's debut album, La Roux, peaked at 70 on the Billboard 200 and at number four on the Dance/Electronic chart.[8][9] "I'm Not Your Toy", released on 29 September 2009,[10] reached number twenty-seven on the UK chart. On 10 September 2009, Jackson confirmed in an interview with French musical website Hall Musique that "As If by Magic" would be the fifth single to be released from the album,[11] and on 15 July 2010, she uploaded a behind-the-scenes preview of the music video for "Tigerlily" on YouTube discussing its theme.[12] However, neither "As If By Magic" nor "Tigerlily" were ever issued as singles, and the full "Tigerlily" video also remains unreleased.

In order to promote La Roux, the band was the supporting act on Lily Allen's UK tour of March 2009.[13] La Roux headlined the Samsung NME Radar Tour 2009 and played alongside Magistrates and Heartbreak.[14] They were scheduled to perform at the Glastonbury, Reading, Oxegen and Leeds festivals as well as the Scala, Southend Chinnerys and Coventry Kasbah venues.[7][15] In July and August 2009, La Roux toured North America. The eight-city tour included performances at Osheaga Festival, All Points West Music & Arts Festival and Lollapalooza.[16] On 23 July, the group performed on the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[17] The group returned to North America for a seven-date tour in October.[18] The group sold out their two Australian dates within minutes forcing an upgrade in venues.[19] In November, the duo embarked on an eleven-date United Kingdom and Ireland tour.[20] La Roux gained fifth position on the BBC Sound of 2009 poll.[21] The Guardian website featured La Roux on their New Band of the Day column.[22] The Guardian also featured La Roux as one of the "Best New Acts of 2009" in January of that year.[23] The album has been nominated for a Mercury Prize.[24]

Sales of "In for the Kill" spiked 600 percent when Skream's "Let's Get Ravey" remix of the song appeared on the HBO show Entourage in August 2010. Later that month, it was announced that an EP remix has been released in tandem with the November US tour.[25] In October, a second video for the song was released that was shot at New York's landmark Hotel Chelsea. The song was released in the United States 7 October.[26]

In July 2010, La Roux curated and mixed the latest volume of Sidetracked, a compilation series from Renaissance that allows artists from the electronic field free rein to showcase their musical interests. The mix eclectically features the likes of Japan, Heaven 17, Joyce Sims, Fever Ray (lead singer of The Knife), Doris Troy, Tears for Fears, Gerry Rafferty and many more of their influences. It also includes an exclusive recording of The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb", a cover La Roux have been featuring in their then-recent live sets.[27]

2011–present: Departure of Langmaid and Trouble in Paradise[edit]

La Roux were scheduled to start writing material for their second album during Christmas 2009 at their manager's home. Jackson said, "I think there will be a natural instrument or two on there though, which will make a change from the first record." She added that due to limited time, she did not think there would be "anything in terms of a second record for a while".[28] As of January 2011, La Roux were writing their second album with a somewhat established indie rock band whose members are friends of Jackson. Jackson told the NME, "I know I'm not going to stop writing until we've got songs that can compete on the same level as 'In For The Kill' and 'Bulletproof'".[29] In January 2012, Jackson described the second album as "a lot cheekier. Not "Touch My Bum" cheeky or Carry On cheeky—just slightly suggestive [...] A lot of music that's quite sexual is aggressive, but the music itself doesn't sound sexy—it's more people shouting, 'Look at my bum! Look!' I'm not turned on by it, I'm terrified." She also noted she feels a lot of pressure to replicate the quality of the duo's debut album.[30] Unlike the first album, album two will draw more on acoustic sounds and instruments, including guitars, organs and percussion; however, analog and digital synthesizers will still feature as part of the overall sound. Jackson has confirmed she will be playing instruments on the record, in addition to co-writing, co-producing and providing vocals.

La Roux started a low-key comeback tour on 28 March 2013 in Brighton with two more venues in Bristol and Coventry during the following week. It was confirmed via a copy of the setlist that there are four new songs: "Uptight Downtown", "Kiss and Not Tell", "Sexoteque" and "Tropical Chancer". Early reactions to the new material have so far been positive.[31] Proof of a new album surfaced on 21 March 2014, when Tim Jonze, music columnist for The Guardian, tweeted that he "heard the new La Roux album yesterday and it was bloody brilliant." The official La Roux page responded with "Thanks!"[32] On 8 April 2014, La Roux announced their second studio album, Trouble in Paradise, will be released on 21 July 2014, preceded by buzz single "Let Me Down Gently" as premiered on BBC Radio 1 on 12 May 2014. During the promotions for the album, Jackson revealed that she and Langmaid had parted ways, and now she was the sole member of La Roux.[33] Langmaid responded that he was "truly saddened" by the split, and added that he was still a fixture in the album's writing, including "Let Me Down Gently", which both he and Jackson enjoyed.[34]

Artistry[edit]

Musical styles[edit]

Elly Jackson's first interest was in folk music. She was particularly interested in Carole King and Nick Drake whose music she discovered in her parents' record collection. Jackson's early musical material consisted of folk ditties influenced by Joni Mitchell.[35] Her taste in music changed during her mid-teens when she became involved in the rave scene. She lists Gerry Rafferty,[36] David Bowie, Madonna, Prince and The Knife[37] as her influences.

Ben Langmaid was the other half of La Roux but does not participate in the music videos or live performances with the band. Langmaid, a London-based producer and composer, has been involved with various other music projects in the past. He was a DJ throughout the 1990s.[38] He has a close association with Rollo Armstrong of Faithless; the two musicians went to the same school and later collaborated as Huff & Puff in the mid-1990s,[39] releasing the house single "Help Me Make It" in 1996.[2] Langmaid also recorded as Atomic and was one half of Huff & Herb,[39] before contributing as a songwriter to indie rock band Kubb's debut album Mother, released in 2005.[2] This project was again linked to Rollo Armstrong; Kubb's frontman Harry Collier was introduced to Langmaid after Collier sang "Happy Birthday to You" to Armstrong whilst working as a waiter in a North London organic café.[40] Langmaid turned down the offer of a permanent position in Kubb.[40] In 2011, Langmaid wrote material for the early 1990s R&B-styled girl group War of Words.[38]

Public image[edit]

Jackson is unhappy with what she perceives as a "normality" fashion trend among a majority of today's musical acts.[41][42] Her androgynous clothing and hair style has been compared to the 1980s group A Flock of Seagulls.[1][43] Jackson strongly opposes stylists who try to change her appearance to a more classically feminine look.[44] Jackson does not feel that social networking will help musicians' careers in the long run because it makes them too accessible at the expense of mystery and intrigue.[45]

Guest appearances, Grammy Awards and performances[edit]

On 26 January 2010, La Roux duetted with the 1980s synthpop group Heaven 17 on the 6 Music Live Combos show. Heaven 17 keyboardist Martyn Ware said that he was surprised at how well his and Jackson's voices connected.[46]

La Roux also performed at T in the Park Balado, Scotland, V Festival (Chelmsford and Staffordshire) and Oxegen Festival (Ireland) along with many other artists in 2010. La Roux have also been popular with music publication NME, with Jackson gracing the front cover of their 'Future 50' edition. They won the NME Award for Best Dancefloor Filler with the Skream Remix of 'In For The Kill'. They were also the only band to be featured 4 times on the NME 50 Best Tracks of 2009 list with Im Not Your Toy placed at 41, Bulletproof at 24, In For the Kill Skream Dubstep Remix at 19 and In For The Kill riding high at 8.[47]

Elly Jackson of La Roux was the judge at the 2010 "fantasy dress" at Bestival festival.[48]

On 25 June 2010, La Roux played the Glastonbury Festival. In addition to their own material the group dueted with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 on Heaven 17's "Temptation" and played a cover of The Rolling Stones "Under my Thumb".[49] La Roux have played "Under My Thumb" since early 2010, including their March tour of Australia. Elly Jackson also performed a cover version of Terence Trent D'arby's Sign Your Name with Heaven 17 at Bestival in 2010.

On 9 August 2010, Skream released the album Outside the Box which features a song called "Finally" featuring La Roux.

On 31 December, La Roux appeared on the American television program Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.[50]

In February 2011, at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, La Roux won the Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their self-titled debut album. Their single "In for the Kill" was nominated for Best Dance Recording;[51] Jackson wrote on Twitter "This is the happiest I think I've ever been". This contrasts Elly Jackson's previous comments at the 2010 NME Awards, where she lightheartedly stated that the group "rarely wins awards". Ben Langmaid stated in a post-award interview, that the day before the Grammy Awards, the duo were rewarded with a double platinum set of discs from their record company, describing the weekend of the Grammy Awards as "My happiest weekend ever". On the 2010 hit hip hop album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, Jackson provided vocals on the hit single "All of the Lights" and some more vocals on the song "Lost in the World" and the outro, "Who Will Survive in America". Jackson worked with Kanye West again on the 2011 collaboration album Watch the Throne, which featured Jay-Z, providing vocals for the track "That's My Bitch".[citation needed]

The Skream remix of "In For The Kill" was used in promotion of the 2012 film Dredd.

La Roux appeared in a cameo role as themselves in the revival of the BBC's Absolutely Fabulous on 1 January 2012,[52] singing alongside Jennifer Saunders' character.

Festival appearances[edit]

List of La Roux festival appearances:[53][54]

  • Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, IOW, UK (12 June 2010)
  • Coachella Festival, Indio, CA, USA (April 2010)[53]
  • Festival des Inrocks 2009, various cities, France (November 2009)[53]
  • Parklife Festival 2009, various cities, Australia (September–October 2009)[53]
  • Bestival 2009, Newport, UK (September 2009)[53]
  • Reading & Leeds Festival 2009, UK (August 2009)[53]
  • Glastonbury Festival 2009, Glastonbury, UK (June 2009)[53]
  • Glastonbury Festival 2010, Glastonbury, UK (June 2010)[53]
  • Rock Werchter 2010, Torhout, Belgium (July 2010)
  • T in the Park festival 2010, Balado, Scotland (July 2010)[53]
  • Optimus Alive 2010, Lisbon, Portugal (July 2010)
  • Way Out West 2010, Göteborg, Sweden (August 2010)
  • All Points West 2009, Jersey City, NJ, USA (August 2009)
  • V Festival, Essex and Staffordshire (August 2010)
  • Bestival, Isle of Wight (September 2010)
  • Burn Selector Festival, Kraków, Poland (4 June 2011)
  • Terraneo Festival, Šibenik, Croatia (9 August 2011)
  • Sziget-Festival, Budapest, Hungary (11 August 2011)
  • Coachella Festival, Indio, CA, USA (14 & 21 April 2013)
  • Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, NV, USA (21 June 2013)
  • Afisha Picnic Festival, Russia (13 July 2013)
  • Benicassim Festival, Spain (18 July 2013)
  • Mares Vivas Festival, Portugal (19 July 2013)
  • Rock 'n' Coke 2013, Istanbul, Turkey (7 September 2013)
  • Festa das Latas, Coimbra, Portugal (18 October 2013)

Members[edit]