Foxes

In the three short years since she released her debut EP Warrior, Grammy-winning, Top 5 recording artist Foxes, aka 26-year-old Louisa Rose Allen, has swiftly become one of the UK's best pop stars, creating a catalogue of gorgeously epic songs saturated with emotional honesty. Last year's debut album Glorious – featuring Top 10 single Let Go For Tonight and the amazing Youth and Holding Onto Heaven – showcased a burgeoning talent getting to grips with channeling life's complications into A-grade pop bangers. The forthcoming follow-up album, prefaced by the disco-tinged strut of the lead single Body Talk, is the sort of sonic leap forward that comes from experience. “I knew immediately what I wanted with this album,” she states emphatically, taking time out from finishing overseeing production with Mark Ralph (Years & Years) and MyRiot (London Grammar) on the last few tracks. “I really wanted to move on because Glorious felt like a very young album. A lot of the things that were happening weren't that present. I like those songs for what they are but they felt like I was singing about past situations and I felt like there was so much I could write about now.”
 
Recorded in London, Stockholm, LA and Wales, the new album still carries a thread from Glorious' penchant for sky-scraping choruses, bold melodies and that undeniable sense of vulnerability that sneaks in through the cracks. Featuring previous collaborators such as Liam Howe (Lana Del Rey), Kid Harpoon (Jessie Ware) and Jonny Harris, aka Ghostwriter, the album also brings in the likes of Dan Wilson (Adele's Someone Like You), Jonas Quant (Hurts), Dan Smith from Bastille, Jesse Shatkin (Sia's Chandelier) and Rick Knowles (Lykke Li). Pulling it all together, however, is Southampton-born Louisa, a woman who eschews the lure of the full-on glitzy pop star life in favour of taking the bus around east London with her mates or working on her mum's clothing market stall. “I have to remain normal,” she says. “I don't know why or if that will last. I genuinely have all my friends I grew up with forgetting what I do or that people recognise me. I forget why people recognise me! I feel very Southampton around famous people!” 
 
After winning a Grammy for huge dance hit Clarity in 2013, featuring on Fall Out Boy’s Just One Yesterday, and being personally invited to join Pharrell Williams on his European tour, it could be hard to keep your feet on the ground. But at the end of the Glorious campaign, when Louisa immediately started thinking about album two, she knew she needed to continue working with collaborators who understood the unique British pop sound that runs through her music. “Something I knew I didn't want to do was go too pop,” she says of the album's early stages. “I wanted to write with Dan Wilson so that was a great experience. We did a song called Devil's Side. I wrote the album in Sweden, Wales, LA and London, so it was quite varied, but finishing it with just two people – Mark Ralph and MyRiot – has been great, and I brought my whole band in to record too which I didn't do with the first album. When I think about it there is a thread running from the first album to this one though. There's a way I write and a way I sing through things. I don't want something to be straight down the line pop – I want to make it a little more interesting. I like to be very honest.”
 
The songs for the follow up album came quickly and uncontrollably once the huge global tour for Glorious finished (a tour that included Japan where Foxes was often greeted with huge crowds of screaming girls seeking selfies). “When it all came to an end I was like 'get me in a studio now',” she laughs. “I didn't want a break, I was so ready to get back and start writing.” Work initially started in December of 2014 with raw ideas formed at Louisa’s home, however the New Year brought a new set of song inspirations and the album took shape quickly and almost uncontrollably. “I've never written honestly like that before. I'd use a lot of metaphors on the first album to explain things and with this one somehow a lot more feeling came out because of that,” she explains. In fact the album is littered with evidence of an artist coming of age; not just as a songwriter but as a person. The stories and inspirations for Glorious, though meaningful at the time, were often fractured through a prism of metaphor, perhaps as a way of distancing the creator from the song. For the second album, Foxes has jumped headlong into her writing, pouring emotion into every song almost as a way of helping herself heal. “I feel like the album process this time was about feeling stronger with each song that was written.”
 
The first song she worked on was Body Talk, which was awarded first single status not only because it's a stone cold banger of the highest order, but because it worked as a neat nod back to Glorious. “It was the first song I wrote so I have a special relationship with it. Like Youth was the first song I wrote for Glorious, so I'm sort of repeating that again and I like to do it that way because then I'm going back and telling the story in the order it went. It's happier too and I didn't want to come back all sad.” Inspired by the sense of fun imbued in Cyndi Lauper singles from the 80s, it also showcases the album's theme of pushing through and the joy that comes from making it out the other side. “I actually wrote that song in two parts. I started writing it with Jim Elliot in Wales and the first verse is a bit hopeless, while the second verse is more 'I'm okay now, it's fine'. So it was really nice to put that together to show how you can go from a dark place to thinking 'fuck it, I'm going to push on through'.” 
 
Elsewhere the staggering, future smash hit Better Love, created with Dan Smith from Bastille, bolts a festival-ready chorus onto galloping drums and melodies that tumble over each other. It is, without doubt, the boldest statement Foxes has made. Written with good friend Smith and longterm producer Jonny Harris, it also feels effortless, a reflection of the song's laidback creation. “I toured with Bastille last year in Australia and that was really good fun,” she explains. I've known Dan for a little while now and we'd always say that we should work together but it never worked out. Then randomly we both had a free afternoon and within two hours we had a song. We went to Jonny's studio and we just wrote this quick track and then we all went out afterwards to a party and we were discussing how it was actually quite a song. Dan and I would call each other and just sing “show me a better love” down the phone. It was really quick. He's great because he's got a real emotion in his voice and our voices really clicked.” While the soulful Scars, the string-laden sigh of If You Leave Me Now and the stomping Feet Don't Fail Me Now pick apart a relationship, the more allegorical Money and the self-empowering (and correctly-titled) Amazing set the focus outside of heartbreak city. “There's a lot of emotion in the album, but it's about me being alright now. I wanted it to be about empowerment and using inner strength to get out of something.”
 
In the end, it's an album about moving on. Moving on from past relationships but also moving on as a person and as an artist. Loaded with personality, maturity and solid gold pop songs of the highest order, it's a bold statement of intent from an artist completely in charge of her music, from the songwriting to the performance to the production (“I'm really hands on to the point where it can be a struggle to get things approved,” she laughs). Inspired by sadness but converted via a sort of magical alchemy into relatable and joyful empowerment, it pulls off that beautiful pop trick of hiding sorrow within the folds of euphoria. “I don't want to wallow,” she says. “I want people to dance and feel free and be happy and fearless. To dance like no one's watching basically”.
 
Agent